A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 27, 2012
“The seven ages of man are spills, drills, thrills, bills, ills, pills and wills”

"The seven ages of man are spills (a baby—ed.), drills (a child—ed.), thrills (an adolescent—ed.), bills (a parent—ed.), ills (middle age—ed.), pills (old age—ed.) and wills (death—ed.)” is an alliterative one-line saying that has been credited to Canadian humor columnist Richard J. Needham (1912-1996). His original column has not been located, but Needham has been credited for the saying since at least 1980.

The word combination is much older. “The doctor’s business is a matter of ills, pills, bills and wills” was a popular line in 1893.


Wikipedia: Richard J. Needham
Richard J. Needham (1912–1996) was a Canadian humour columnist for The Globe and Mail.

Many of his columns were collected in a variety of books, including The Garden of Needham and Needham’s Inferno, which won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour in 1967.

9 October 1893, The News (Frederick, MD), “Brief Bits,” col. 2:
The doctor’s business is a matter of ills, pills, bills and wills.

Google Books
16 December 1893, The Factory Girl: Supplement to Wade’s Fibre & Fabric, pg. 514, col. 1:
The doctor’s business is a matter of ills, pills, bills and wills.

Google Books
Mastering Effective English (4th Edition)
By Margaret H Larock, Jacob C. Tressler and Claude E. Lewis
Toronto: Copp Clark Pitman
1980
Pg. 351:
The seven ages of humanity: spills, drills, bills, thrills, wills, ills, pills. (Adapted from RICHARD J. NEEDHAM)

Google News Archive
15 April 1982, Lewiston Journal (Lewiston-Auburn, ME), “Motorcycling in Me.” with Bee-Jay Bedard, pg. 9, col. 5:
He (Dick Fortier—ed.) also sent along this bit of humor: The seven ages of man: Spills. Drills, Thrills. Bills. Ills. Pills, Wills!

Google News Archive
5 August 1983, Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal, “The Stroller” by Seymour Rosenberg, pg. 1, col. 1:
The seven ages of man are spills, drills, thrills, bills, ills, pills and wills.

Google Books
Help! I’m Growing Old:
Tips on Embracing & Enjoying Your Senior Years

By Chuah Tong-Ik
Singapore: Graceworks
2009
Pg. 2:
Richard J. Needham, a humour columnist, vividly categorised the seven ages of man as “spills”, “drills”, “thrills”, “bills”, “ills”, “pills” and “wills”. Quite a tongue twister but I think you can easily identify each stage.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • Tuesday, November 27, 2012 • Permalink