Sixteen songs written by teens

YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE BEEN RECORDING hit songs since before thirteen-year-old Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers hit it big with 1956’s “Why Do Fools Fall in Love.” The list of teenage recording stars includes Chubby Checker, Herman’s Hermits, The Jackson 5, Debbie Gibson, LeAnn Rimes, Kriss Kross, Britney Spears, Monica, Mario, and dozens more.

Writing hit songs before turning twenty, that’s a whole different ballgame. Teenagers composed (at least partially) all of the following:

1. “Hound Dog.” Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. 1952
Leiber and Stoller were both nineteen with they wrote this rocker for Big Mama Thornton. Four years later, Elvis Presley made the tune a monster pop hit, but the writers preferred the Thornton’s R&B version. “Elvis played with the song, Big Mama nailed it,” Leiber said in 2009’s Hound Dog:The Leiber and Stoller Autobiography.


Buddy Holly

2. “That’ll Be The Day.” Written by Buddy Holly and Jerry Allison. 1956
Holly was nineteen and Allison sixteen when they first recorded “That’ll Be The Day” in 1956. Holly and the Crickets re-recorded it and had a number-one hit one year later. Linda Ronstadt took her version of the song to number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1976.

3. “Summertime Blues.” Written by Eddie Cochran and Jerry Capehart. 1958
At nineteen, Cochran co-wrote and recorded one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most enduring singles, although the original “Summertime Blues” only went to number eight on the singles charts. The song has also been covered by The Who, Blue Cheer, Alan Jackson, and Olivia Newton-John.

4. “Royals.” Written by Lorde and Joel Little. 2012
The New Zealander, fifteen, needed just a half hour to write “Royals” in July of 2012. The song spent nine weeks at number one in 2013. She was the youngest artist to have a number-one U.S hit since, Tiffany, who didn’t write her 1987 hit, “I Think We’re Alone Now.”


The Shirelles

5. “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” Written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. 1960
King, eighteen, composed the melody and Goffin the lyrics for this song, a number-one 1961 hit for The Shirelles. King and Goffin worked other jobs until selling “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” to song  publisher Don Kirshner, who gave them both a $10,000 advance for the slightly risqué tune (it’s about post-coital regret).

6. “Green Onions.” Written by Booker T. Jones and three others. 1962
This bluesy instrumental began as a “little ditty I’d been playing on piano, except I switched to Hammond M3 organ,” Booker T. Jones told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland in 2012. Jones was just seventeen when he created the infectious organ line to “Green Onions.” Originally a B-side song, the tune went to number-one on the R&B charts and peaked at number three on the Billboard singles chart. “It just happened,” said Booker T., who had six more top-40 hits with the MGs, but none as big as “Green Onions.”

7. “Walk Away Renée.” Written by Michael Brown and two others. 1966
Left Banke keyboardist Michael Brown, seventeen, wrote this song about Renée Fladen, the girlfriend of band-member Tom Finn. Rolling Stone ranked the Left Banke tune number 220 in its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

8. “By The Time I Get to Phoenix.” Written by Jimmy Webb. 1965
Webb has said he was seventeen when he wrote “Up, Up and Away,” a hit for the Fifth Dimension, seventeen or eighteen when he wrote “By The Time I Get to Phoenix,” and nineteen when he wrote “MacArthur Park,” a number-two hit for actor-singer Richard Harris in 1968 and a three-week chart-topper when covered by Donna Summer in 1978. “By The Time I Get to Phoenix,” recorded by Glen Campbell, and “Up, Up and Away” combined for eight Grammy awards in 1968.


Stevie Wonder

9. “Uptight (Everything’s Alright).” Written by Stevie Wonder and others. 1965
This was Wonder’s first self-penned (with others) hit. Written when he was fifteen, “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1966. At seventeen, Wonder co-wrote “I Was Made to Love Her,” a number-two hit in 1967, and “My Cherie Amour,” which wasn’t released until 1969 and went to number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

10. “Wedding Bell Blues.” Written by Laura Nyro. 1966
It took three years for a pair of Nyro songs to climb the charts for other artists. Written at eighteen, “Wedding Bell Blues” was a smash for The 5th Dimension in 1969, spending three weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She also wrote “And When I Die” at eighteen, with Blood, Sweat & Tears taking the tune to number two in 1969. Nyro penned “Stoned Cold Picnic,” a number-three hit for The 5th Dimension in 1968, and “Eli’s Coming,” which peaked at number 10 for Three Dog Night in 1969.

11. “Complicated.” Written by Avril Lavigne and others. 2002
“I write my own songs, and when I’m in front of a camera, I don’t try to act like something or someone I’m not,” Lavigne told USA Today in 2002, voicing the message expressed in her first hit single, “Complicated.” Written when she was seventeen, the song is about frustration with someone showing a false face to the world. The song went to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

12. “Gloria.” Written by Van Morrison. 1963
Morrison, eighteen, wrote “Gloria” in the sumemr of 1963 and recorded the song with his band, Them, in late 1964. A garage-band classic, the tune is distinguished by its “G-L-O-R-I-A” chorus.

13. “Stay.” Written by Maurice Williams. 1953
“Stay” didn’t stay on the turntable very long; at one minute and thirty-seven seconds, it is the briefest number-one single in Billboard history. Williams was fifteen when he wrote the song in 1953. Seven years later, it was a chart-topper for Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs.

14. “Poor Little Fool.” Written by Sharon Sheeley. 1955
Sheeley made history in 1958 as the youngest woman at the time to write a number-one hit song. Composed three years earlier, “Poor Little Fool” became the first chart-topper for Ricky Nelson.

15. “At the Hop.” Written by Dave White and two others. 1958
The Danny & the Juniors do-wop group featured a sixteen-year-old lead singer named Danny Rapp, but it was eighteen-year-old Dave White who did much of the writing on “At the Hop,” the number-one Billboard single of 1958.

16. “Eve of Destruction.” Written by P.F. Sloan. 1964
Barry McGuire’s gravelly vocals took “Eve of Destruction,” a protest song, to number one in 1965. Sloan was just eighteen when he wrote the tune, which refers to human rights violations in China, violence in Selma, Alabama, and the Kennedy assassination.

14 Awesome Teenage Athletes


Pelé, age nineteen, 1960

This wasn’t easy, ranking young athletes playing different sports at different times. I tried to emphasize the rarity of the athletic feat and degree of difficulty involved, but that failed to simplify the process. Nadia Comaneci, for instance, is one of several teenage female gymnasts to win Olympic gold medals. That should drop her on the list, but no other gymnast had a performance to match her run of perfect scores at the 1976 Olympic Games.

Then there’s the Josh Gibson conundrum. The Negro League superstar may have had the greatest teenage year in all of baseball history when he reportedly slugged 75 home runs in 1931. But imprecise record keeping muddies Gibson’s accomplishments. I believe he was sensational at nineteen and rank him high, but I’d rank him even higher if I knew for sure what he’d accomplished.

At any rate, here are fourteen of the greatest teenage athletes of all time:

1. Pelé. Age 17. Soccer player. 1958
The nickname Pelé (his real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento) “means nothing in any language but evokes images of genius and gentility in them all,” wrote Hank Hersch of Sports Illustrated in 1999. At seventeen, Pelé scored Brazil’s only goal in a 1-0 quarterfinal win over Wales, three goals in a 5-2 semifinal win over France, and two goals as Brazil defeated Sweden 5-2 for the first of the nation’s five World Cup championships.


Bob Mathias, 1952

2. Bob Mathias. Decathlete. Age 17. 1948
Urged to train for his first decathlon, Mathias told his high school track coach, “Sounds like fun. But just one question: What’s a decathlon?’” Five months later the 6-foot-1-inch, 190-pound Californian was sloshing down a dark, rainy track in London toward an Olympic gold medal. He defeated second-place finisher Ignace Heinrich of France to become the youngest athlete at the time to win an Olympic gold in track and field. Mathias repeated as Olympic decathlon champ in 1952, setting a new world record with 7,887 points and finishing more than 900 points ahead of the second-place finisher.

3. Nadia Comaneci. Gymnast. Age 14. 1976
Nicknamed “Little Miss Perfect,” the Romanian was indeed little (4 foot 11, 86 pounds) and frequently flawless at the Montreal Games. The first person to be awarded a perfect 10 score in an Olympic gymnastic event, she received seven 10s in all and won three gold medals at the Montreal Games. “On a scale of 1 to 10, she really deserves an 11 for what she has accomplished in relation to the scores of other gymnasts,” wrote Dave Anderson of The New York Times.

4. Steve Cauthen. Jockey. Age 16. 1977
A teenager dominated the horse racing world in 1977, riding a record 487 winners, earning a record $6.15 million, and becoming the only jockey named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year and Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. For his 1978 encore, Cauthen rode Affirmed to the Triple Crown. Frank Deford of Sports Illustrated called Cauthen “a prodigy like none we have ever seen before.”

Tom Morris Jr.

5. Tom Morris Jr. Golfer. Age 17. 1868
The Tiger Woods of his era, Tom Morris Jr. in 1868 recorded a hole-in-one on the eighth hole at the Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland, the first ever in a major championship. and went on to win the British Open for the first of four times. In September of 1875, playing an exhibition golf match, Morris Jr. received news that his pregnant wife had gone into labor. By the time he reached her, both his wife and child had died in childbirth. Three months later, on Christmas Day, the golfer suffered a fatal lung hemorrhage. He was just 24 years old.

6. Josh Gibson. Age 19. 1931
Sorting fact from fiction is difficult with Gibson, the Negro League superstar whose power-hitting feats began as a rookie for the Homestead Grays in 1930. He hit two jaw-dropping home runs late that year, one that cleared the center field fence at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field and one that traveled about 505 feet and may have cleared the Yankee Stadium roof. The Negro League Baseball Players Association website credits him with 75 home runs as a nineteen-year-old in 1931.

7. Maureen Connolly. Tennis player. Age 18. 1953
Known as “Little Mo,” Connolly’s other nickname, “Killer,” fit her better. Cheerful and engaging off the court, she confessed in 1957’s Forehand Drive to playing tennis with “a blazing, virulent, powerful, and consuming hate” of her opponents. This intensity carried Connolly to the first grand slam by a female tennis player in 1953. The San Diego native won the last nine Grand Slam tournaments she entered and received her third straight Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year award. Seventeen days after winning her third straight Wimbledon title in 1954, Connolly was thrown from a horse and slammed against a cement truck, resulting in a broken fibula that ended her career at age nineteen.

8. Jim Ryun. Runner. Age 17. 1965
Racing in a group that included three-time Olympic gold medalist Peter Snell, Ryun established a then-record American mile time of 3:55.3. Ryun’s time remained a high school record until Alan Webb of Reston, Virgina, finally eclipsed it in 2001. in 2007 ranked the runner from Wichita (Kansas) East High School as the best high school athlete ever, ahead of second-place Tiger Woods (golf) and third-place LeBron James (basketball).

9. Lisa Leslie. Basketball player. Age 17. 1990
In her last home game at Morningside High (Inglewood, California), Leslie made 37-of-56 field goals, sunk 27 free throws, and scored 101 points — in just one half of a game against South Torrence. The 6-foot-5-inch center averaged 27 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocked shots as a senior and led Morningside to back-to-back state championships before moving on to college at USC and a career in the WNBA, where she was the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2001, 2004 and 2006.

10. Bob Feller. Baseball player. Age 17. 1936
At seventeen, Feller struck out an American League record (at the time) 17 batters in one game for the 1936 Cleveland Indians, tying the major record held by the Cardinals’ Dizzy Dean. Feller set a new record at age 19 with 18 strikeouts in one game. Three players share the current record of 20 strikeouts in one game.


Sonja Henie, 1936

11. Sonja Henie. Figure skater. Age 15. 1928
The difference between Henie and most other champion figure skaters is the Norwegian didn’t just grab a gold medal and fade away — she kept on winning. After her first gold-medal performance in 1928, Henie earned a second gold in the 1932 Winter Olympics, and a third in 1936. She also won 10 straight world championships from 1927 to 1936, conquered Hollywood from 1936 to 1948, and amassed a personal fortune that made her one of the world’s 10 richest women at the time of her death in 1969.

12. Jean Balukas. Pool player. Age 13. 1972
Described by Sports Illustrated as “a taciturn, shy, freckle-faced girl,” Balukas breezed through the 1972 women’s U.S. Open straight pool championship, defeating six opponents and taking home the tournament’s $1,500 prize. An all-around athlete who excelled in basketball, softball, bowling, and golf, Balukas would win seven consecutive U.S. Opens and be acclaimed by many as the greatest female pool player of all time.

13. Boris Becker. Tennis player. Age 17. 1985
Mixing a huge serve with a dive-on-the-grass fervor, Becker made history as the first 17-year-old, the first unseeded player, and the first German to win a Wimbledon men’s title. Becker, who referred to Centre Court as his “living room” repeated as Wimbledon champion in 1986 and won a third title in 1989.

 14. Wilfred Benitez. Boxer Age 17. 1976
A split decision victory over Antonio Cervantes gave Benitez the World Boxing Association junior welterweight title and made him a hero in his native Puerto Rico, but a decade later a neurologist would diagnose him with a degenerative brain condition caused by the punches he took in the boxing ring. Benitez won the World Boxing Council’s welterweight championship in 1979 and the WBC’s light middleweight championship in 1981. He displayed signs of brain damage after retiring a week after his 32nd birthday and moved into a Puerto Rico nursing home. Those close to him said Benitez couldn’t remember people he’d known for years.

Who had the best year?

ELVIS PRESLEY HAD A WHALE of a year in 1956, recording four number-one hits, including the year’s top two Billboard singles, “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” His appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” drew the largest single audience in television history. He even made a movie, Love Me Tender.

Elvis_red.Jailhouse_RockHow does Elvis at twenty-one compare with Samuel Colt or Steve Jobs at the same age? Some would say he doesn’t, that you can’t compare a rock and roller with a gun-maker and a computer genius. They’re just too different.

Me, I enjoy apples-and-oranges comparisons. For starters, you can never be wrong. In this case, it all hinges on how you define “best year.” Some would go with the most culturally significant year, but even that’s a judgment call. I lean toward the wildly subjective “wow” factor. At twenty-one, Colt invented his famous six-shooter, which made little folks with sharp eyes and fast reflexes superior to brutes. That gets a “wow,” for sure. But there have been other, nearly as impressive youthful inventions. Then there’s 1956 Elvis. No single pop performer (the 1964 Beatles don’t count; there were four of them) has ever had a year that compares. That gets a massive “wow” from me.

Check out these age-related accomplishments and see who gets your vote. If you like, you can rank them one to five.

AGE 14

  • joseph.visionSarah Frye Egerton. Writes feminist poem “The Female Advocate.” 1684
  • Phillis Wheatley. Writes first published poem by an African American. 1767
  • Joseph Smith. May have seen vision that will result in Mormon religion (right). 1820
  • Philo Farnsworth. Develops concept for electronic television scanning. 1921
  • Bobby Fischer. Wins the U.S. Chess Championship. 1958

AGE 15

  • Louis Braille. Invents reading-and-writing system for the blind. 1824
  • Sonja Henie. Wins first of three Olympic golds in figure skating. 1928
  • Anne Frank. Makes last entries in Diary of a Young Girl. 1942
  • The Little Rock Nine (average age: 15). Integrate Arkansas high school. 1957
  • S.E. Hinton. Writes The Outsiders, a young adult fiction classic. 1966

AGE 16

  • dukeEdward the Black Prince. Commands wing of English army to victory over France. 1346
  • Eliza Lucas. Begins experiments with South Carolina indigo. 1739
  • Sacagawea. Accompanies Lewis and Clark expedition. 1805
  • George S. Parker. Invents and sells his first game. 1883
  • Patty Duke. Wins Oscar, debuts “The Patty Duke Show (right).” 1963

AGE 17

  • Marco Polo. Begins historic voyage to China. 1271
  • Joan of Arc. Leads French army, lifts siege of Orleans. 1429
  • Artemisia Gentileschi. Paints Susanna and the Elders. 1610
  • Felix Mendelssohn. Composes overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 1826
  • Bob Mathias. Wins gold medal in Olympic decathlon. 1948

AGE 18

  • Mary Shelley. Writes Frankenstein. 1816
  • Joyce Clyde Hall. Starts business that will become Hallmark Cards. 1910
  • Maureen Connolly. Wins tennis grand slam. 1953
  • Françoise Sagan. Writes Bonjour Tristesse. 1953
  • Jim Henson. Debuts Muppets on “Sam and Friends.” 1955

AGE 19

  • Marquis de Lafayette. Joins Revolutionary War effort as general. 1777
  • Josh Gibson. Hits a reported 75 Negro League home runs. 1931
  • Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster. Create comic-book character Superman. 1934
  • Debbie Reynolds. Stars in Singin’ in the Rain. 1952
  • Bill Gates. Co-founds Microsoft with Paul Allen. 1975

AGE 20Audie_Murphy

  • Frederick Douglass. Escapes from slavery. 1838
  • Anne Sullivan. Teaches Helen Keller to read. 1887
  • Rudolph Dirks. Debuts the “Katzenjammer Kids” comic strip, one of the first to use a frame sequence and speech balloons, in a supplement of the New York Journal. 1897
  • Audie Murphy (right): Kills or wounds fifty enemy soldiers in combat. 1945
  • Wilma Rudolph. Wins three Olympic gold medals in track. 1960

AGE 21

  • Levi Strauss. Sells first pair of jeans. 1850
  • Samuel Colt. Patents Colt Revolver. 1835
  • Elvis Presley. Records first four number one singles. 1956
  • Steve Jobs. Incorporates Apple Computer. 1976
  • Tiger Woods. Wins Masters by record twelve strokes. 1997

AGE 22

  • Samuel Slater. Establishes America’s first successful cotton mill. 1790
  • Grace Darling. Becomes media heroine after rescuing nine shipwreck survivors. 1838
  • Cyrus McCormick. Invents the reaper. 1831
  • Jesse Owens. Wins four gold medals at Berlin Olympics. 1936
  • Mark Spitz. Wins seven gold medals in swimming at Munich Olympics. 1970

AGE 23

  • George Fox. Begins ministry that
    will result in The Society of Friends (Quakers). 1647
  • Issac Newton. Develops laws of motion, theory of gravitation. 1666
  • Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit. Introduces the alcohol thermometer and develops the Fahrenheit temperature scale. 1709
  • John Keats. Wrote five great odes, including “Ode to a Nightingale” and “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” 1819
  • Ted Williams. Hits .406 for Boston Red Sox. 1941

AGE 24

  • William Randolph Hearst. Takes over the San Francisco Examiner, launches media empire. 1887
  • John T. Scopes. Challenges the Butler Act, which prohibits the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools. 1925
  • Joe Louis. Knocks out Germany’s Max Schmeling. 1938
  • Chuck Yeager. Breaks the sound barrier. 1947
  • James Dean. Makes Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. 1955

AGE 25

  • Alexander the Great. Conquers Persia. 331 B.C.
  • Queen Elizabeth I. Succeeds Mary Tudor as queen of England. 1558
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Writes “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” “Kubla Khan.” 1798
  • Charles Lindbergh. Completes solo plane trip from New York to Paris. 1927
  • Werner Heisenberg. Develops the uncertainty principle. 1927

AGE 26

  • Joseph Black. Discovers carbon dioxide, a gas he calls “fixed air.” 1754
  • Alexander Cartwright. Establishes the rules and plays in what is regarded as the first modern baseball game. 1846
  • J.C. Penney. Launches retail giant with first store in Kemmerer, Wyoming. 1902
  • Albert Einstein. Introduces theory of special relativity and the equation e=mc2. 1905
  • Walt Disney. Debuts Mickey Mouse in “Steamboat Willie.” 1928

AGE 27

  • Yuri_Gagarin_by_EdloidasElias Howe. Invents and patents the first automatic sewing machine. 1846
  • Guglielmo Marconi. Introduces wireless communication. 1901
  • Sergei Eisenstein. Directs The Battleship Potemkin. 1925
  • Yuri Gagarin (right).Becomes first man in space aboard Vostok 1 1961
  • Sarah Weddington. Successfully argues Roe v. Wade before Supreme Court. 1973

AGE 28

  • Henry VII. Defeats Richard III to winthe War of the Roses. 1485
  • Eli Whitney. Invents the cotton gin. 1794
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald. Publishes The Great Gatsby. 1925
  • Bobby Jones. Wins Grand Slam of golf. 1930
  • Jackie Robinson. Breaks baseball’s color line with the Brooklyn Dodgers. 1947

AGE 29

  • Michelangelo. Completes his thirteen-and-a-half-tall statue of David, one of the masterpieces of the Renaissance. 1504
  • Alexander Graham Bell. Introduces the telephone. 1876
  • Emily Bronte. Publishes Wuthering Heights. 1847
  • Karl Marx. Co-authors The Communist Manifesto with Friedrich Engels. 1848
  • Berry Gordy. Launches Tamla and Motown records. 1959

AGE 30

  • MelvinPurvis-001John D. Rockefeller. He and his associates found the Standard Oil Company of Ohio. 1870
  • Henry Morton Stanley. Discovers Dr. Livingstone in on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. 1871
  • Alvin York. Captures 132 enemy troops in WWI. 1918
  • Melvin Purvis (right). Eliminates John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd. 1934
  • Ray Charles. Records “Georgia on My Mind,” “Hit The Road Jack” in one calendar year. 1960-61

AGE 31

  • Hannibal. Defeats Romans at Battle of Cannae after crossing the Alps on elephants. 216 B.C
  • Mozart. Debuts “Don Giovanni,” widely regarded as the greatest opera ever composed. 1787
  • Jimmy Stewart. Appears in four classic films in one calendar year (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Destry Rides Again, The Shop Around the Corner, The Philadelphia Story). 1939-40
  • Raoul Wallenberg. Begins rescuing an estimated 100,000 Hungarian Jews from certain death in Nazi crematoriums. 1944
  • J.K. Rowling. Publishes first Harry Potter book. 1997

AGE 32

  • John Paul Jones. Wins “I have not yet begun to fight” battle with British. 1779
  • Herman Melville. Publishes “Moby-Dick.” 1851
  • Thomas Edison. Invents the light bulb. 1879
  • Fidel Castro. Topples Cuban regime of Fulgencio Batista. 1959
  • Oprah Winfrey. Debuts massively popular talk show. 1986

AGE 33

  • Jesus of Nazareth. Christian savior crucified, resurrected. ca. 37 A.D.
  • Thomas Jefferson. Writes Declaration of Independence. 1776
  • Arthur Miller. Debuts “Death of a Salesman.” 1949
  • Pete Rozelle. Becomes NFL commissioner. 1960
  • George Lucas. Releases Star Wars. 1977

AGE 34

  • Henry Cavendish. Becomes first person to distinguish hydrogen from other gases. 1766
  • Florence Nightingale. Begins Crimean War nursing mission. 1854
  • George Eastman. Patents Kodak camera. 1888
  • Wily Post. Becomes first to fly solo around the world. 1933
  • Martin Luther King. Delivers “I Have a Dream” speech. 1963

AGE 35

  • Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha). Attains enlightenment. ca 528 B.C.
  • William Shakespeare. Writes Julius Caesar, As You Like It, Hamlet. 1599
  • Cesar Chavez. Founds United Farm Workers Union. 1962
  • Walter Gropius. Founds the Bauhaus school of design in Germany. 1919
  • Tim Berners-Lee. Launches World Wide Web. 1991

AGE 36

  • Johann Sebastian Bach. Composes Brandenburg Concertos 1721
  • Walt Whitman. Publishes Leaves of Grass, his most acclaimed book of poetry. 1855
  • Wilbur Wright. Launches first powered flight with brother 1903
  • Maria Montessori. Opens first Children’s House. 1907
  • Johnny Carson. Debuts on “Tonight Show” 1962

AGE 37

  • Henry David Thoreau. Publishes Walden. 1854
  • Margaret Sanger. Establishes America’s first birth control clinic. 1916
  • David O. Selznick. Produces Gone With The Wind. 1939
  • Alan Shepard Jr. becomes the first American in space by piloting the Freedom 7 mission. 1961
  • Dave Thomas. Opens first Wendy’s. 1969

AGE 38

  • Vasco Da Gama. Sails from Portugal to India. 1498
  • Thomas Paine. Publishes Common Sense, an influential pamphlet that advocates American independence from Great Britain. 1776
  • Peter Sellers. Appears in Dr. Strangelove, The Pink Panther and A Shot in the Dark. 1964
  • Neil Armstrong. Takes first step on the moon. 1969
  • Ted Turner. Launches Turner Broadcasting System. 1976

AGE 39

  • William the Conqueror. Conquers England at Battle of Hastings. 1066
  • Godfrey of Bouillon. Achieves renown during the First Crusade and is named “protector of the Holy Sepulchre” following the siege of Jerusalem (1099).
  • Ferdinand Magellan. Begins around-the-world voyage. 1519
  • Henry Ford. Founds Ford Motor Company. 1903
  • Dan Brown. Publishes The Da Vinci Code. 2003

AGE 40

  • Muhammad ibn Abdullah. Founds Islam. 610 A.D.
  • Robert the Bruce. Wins Scotland’s independence with victory over English at Battle of Bannockburn. 1314
  • D.W. Griffith. Directs Birth of a Nation. 1915
  • James Joyce. Publishes Ulysses. 1922
  • Lucille Ball. Debuts on “I Love Lucy.” 1951