Jeanne Calment

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Jeanne Louise Calment

Calment celebrating her 121st birthday in 1996
Born 21 February 1875(1875-02-21)
Arles, France
Died 4 August 1997
(aged &0000000000000122.000000122 years, &0000000000000164.000000164 days)
Arles, France
Known for Becoming the oldest person ever
Spouse(s) Fernand Calment (lived: 1868–1942,
married: 1896–1942)

Jeanne Louise Calment (IPA[ʒan lwiz kalˈmɑ̃]; 21 February 1875 – 4 August 1997)[1] was a French woman with the longest confirmed lifespan in history at age 122 years 164 days.[2] She lived in Arles, France, for her entire life, and outlived both her daughter and grandson. Because her husband was a bourgeois, she never worked, instead living a comfortable lifestyle. She became particularly well-known from the age of 115, when the centenary of Vincent van Gogh brought reporters to Arles, as she was the last person living to have met the artist. She entered the Guinness Book of Records in 1988, and in 1995 was declared the oldest person who had ever lived, having surpassed Shigechiyo Izumi of Japan. Her lifespan has been thoroughly documented by scientific study, with more records having been produced to verify her age than for any other case.[3]


[edit] Biography

Calment, aged 20

Calment was born in Arles and lived there for all of her life.[1] Her father, Nicolas, was a shipbuilder, and her mother, Marguerite, was from a family of millers. Her close family members also lived to an advanced age: her older brother, François, lived to the age of 97, her father to 93, and her mother to 86. In 1896, at the age of 21, she married her second cousin (grandson of her great-uncle) Fernand Calment,[3] a wealthy store owner. His wealth made it possible for Jeanne Calment never to have to work; instead she led a relaxed lifestyle, pursuing hobbies like tennis, cycling, swimming, rollerskating, piano and opera.[1] Her husband died in 1942 after eating a dessert prepared with spoiled cherries.[4] She had one daughter, Yvonne, who was born in 1898, and a grandson, Frédéric, born in 1926.[3] She outlived her daughter, who died at age 36 in 1934 from pneumonia. Frédéric became a doctor, and Calment outlived him as well after he died in 1963 due to a motorcycle accident.[5] In 1965, aged 90, with no living heirs, Jeanne Calment signed a deal to sell her former apartment to lawyer André-François Raffray, on a contingency contract. Raffray, then aged 47, agreed to pay her a monthly sum of 2,500 francs until she died, an agreement sometimes called a "reverse mortgage". Raffray ended up paying Calment more than the equivalent of $180,000, which was more than double the apartment's value. After Raffray's death from cancer at the age of 77, in 1995, his widow continued the payments until Calment's death.[1]

Calment, aged 22

[edit] Recognition

In 1985, Calment moved into a nursing home, having lived on her own until age 110.[1] Nevertheless, she did not gain international fame until 1988, when the centenary of Vincent van Gogh's visit to Arles provided an occasion to meet reporters. She said at the time that she had met Van Gogh 100 years before, i.e. in 1888, as a thirteen-year-old girl in her uncle's fabric shop, where he wanted to buy some canvas, later describing him as "dirty, badly dressed and disagreeable", and "very ugly, ungracious, impolite, sick".[5][1] At the age of 114, she appeared briefly in the 1990 film Vincent and Me as herself, making her the oldest actress ever. A French documentary film about her life, entitled Beyond 120 Years with Jeanne Calment, was released in 1995.[6] In 1996, to celebrate her 121st birthday, a record company released Time's Mistress, a four-track CD of her speaking over a background of rap and hip hop.[7] After her 122nd birthday, it was decided she would not do any more public speaking, as her health had seriously deteriorated, and she died five months later.[6]

[edit] Record breaking

Calment at 40

After her 1988 interview, at age 113, Calment was given the Guinness Records' "world's oldest living person" title. However, in 1990, the title was withdrawn and given to Carrie C. White of Florida, who was claimed to have been born in 1874, although this has been disputed by subsequent census research.[8] On White's death on 14 February 1991, Calment, then a week shy of 116, became the oldest recognized living person.[9] In 1993, she reentered the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest living person, whose birthdate could be reliably authenticated.[5] On 17 October 1995 Calment reached 120 years and 238 days to become the Guinness Records' "oldest person ever", surpassing Shigechiyo Izumi of Japan, whose own claim (120 years 237 days old at the time of his death in 1986) has also been subject to considerable doubt.[6] If the dubious cases of Shigechiyo Izumi and Carrie White are discounted, Calment is the first person documented to reach 115 years old. She is also the only person to have undisputedly lived for over 120 years. Following Calment's death on 4 August 1997, then 116-year-old Marie-Louise Meilleur of Canada became the oldest living recognized person.[9]

[edit] Health and Lifestyle

Calment's remarkable health presaged her later record. At age 85, she took up fencing, and at 100, she was still riding a bicycle.

She gave up smoking at the age of 117, only five years before her death[10] . Though she relapsed for a year she finally gave up smoking at the age of 119 years (blindness made it difficult for her to light a cigarette, and she was reluctant to ask others for help).[citation needed] When asked on one occasion for her prescription for a long life, she mentioned garlic, vegetables, cigarettes, red wine, and avoiding brawls. On another occasion, she ascribed her longevity and relatively youthful appearance for her age to olive oil, which she said she poured on all her food and rubbed onto her skin, as well as a diet of port wine, and nearly 2 pounds of chocolate eaten every week.[7]

Calment lived on her own until shortly before her 110th birthday, when it was decided that she needed to be moved to a nursing home. However, Calment was still in good shape, and was able to walk until she fractured her femur during a fall at age 114 years and 11 months, which required surgery.[3][8]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Whitney, Craig R. (1997-08-05). "Jeanne Calment, World's Elder, Dies at 122". New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-08-04. 
  2. ^ The Guinness Book of Records, 1999 edition, p.102, ISBN 0851120709.
  3. ^ a b c d "Validation of Exceptional Longevity — Jeanne Calment: Validation of the Duration of Her Life". Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. Retrieved on 2008-08-04. 
  4. ^ "MILESTONES". Time. 1997-08-18.,9171,986874,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-08-04. 
  5. ^ a b c "World's oldest person dies at 122". CNN. 1997-08-04. Retrieved on 2008-08-04. 
  6. ^ a b c "Tribute to Jeanne Calment, memorial — Lasting tribute". Lasting Tribute. Retrieved on 2008-08-05. 
  7. ^ a b "Believed to be world's oldest, woman in France dies at 122". Houston Chronicle. 1997-08-04. Retrieved on 2008-08-05. 
  8. ^ a b Addy, Ronda (2008-05-25). "Life expectancy". Sun Journal. Retrieved on 2008-08-06. 
  9. ^ a b "The Oldest Human Beings". Retrieved on 2008-08-06. 
  10. ^ Whitney, Craig R. (1997-08-05). "Jeanne Calment, World's Elder, Dies at 122 - New York Times". Retrieved on 2009-01-15. 

[edit] Further reading

  • Allard, Michel; Lebre, Victor; Robine, Jean-Marie; Calment, Jeanne (1998). Jeanne Calment: From Van Gogh's Time to Ours : 122 Extraordinary Years. New York: W.H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-3251-3. 
  • Robine, Jean-Marie; Allard, Michel (1999). Jeune, Bernard; Vaupel, James W. (eds). ed. Jeanne Calment: Validation of the Duration of Her Life. Validation of Exceptional Longevity. Odense University Press. ISBN 87-7838-466-4. 

[edit] External links

Preceded by
Anna Eliza Williams
Undisputed Oldest Recorded Person Ever
September 17, 1989 – Present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Shigechiyo Izumi (disputed)
Oldest Recorded Person Ever
October 17, 1995 – Present
Preceded by
Carrie C. White (disputed)
Oldest Recognized Living Person
February 14, 1991 – August 4, 1997
Succeeded by
Marie-Louise Meilleur
NAME Calment, Jeanne Louise
SHORT DESCRIPTION Super centenarian
DATE OF BIRTH February 21, 1875
PLACE OF BIRTH Arles, France
DATE OF DEATH August 4, 1997
PLACE OF DEATH Arles, France
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