Thirty-nine years ago this month, on April 11, 1983, Chartwell Booksellers opened for business, in the arcade of the Park Avenue Plaza building here in NYC. We have reached our “Jack Benny Birthday.”

If you have to ask who Jack Benny was, you can probably skip this post entirely, with a quick “Happy Birthday To You.”
If you’re wondering why 39 is the Jack Benny Birthday, well, that’s because Mr. Benny, after actually turning 39 in 1933, laughingly claimed for the rest of his life (he lived to be 80) that he was 39-years-old.

Winston Churchill seems to have never met Jack Benny. We were delighted to discover however, that his daughter, Sarah, did appear on Jack Benny’s television show in January of 1956, and on subsequent Benny programs broadcast from London.

A kinescope of Sarah Churchill’s charming first appearance is preserved on YouTube¬†(Watch it: HERE).
Sarah tells Mr. Benny: “My father wrote me the nicest note when he heard about [my being on your show]. “What did he say,” Benny asks. “Never has so much been sacrificed for so little,” Sarah replies. With non-plussed Benny-ian composure, he retorts: “Well I must say your Daddy certainly has a quick mind. Really, very active. “Yes,” Sarah agrees, “he has an enormous enthusiasm for life. Doesn’t matter what he’s doing, whether he’s painting or writing or walking around the farm, he’s always busy. I think that’s the way he stays so young. By the way,” Sarah adds, “what is your formula for keeping young?” After a very pregnant pause, Benny answers: “I lie a little.”

We are not lying and this is no punchline: Chartwell Booksellers is 39-years-old. Next year we will turn 40 with a bang, and celebrate with a bash. Just now, though, we will simply try to keep on laughing.

We wish you health and laughter. What else is there?