Calment celebrating her 121st birthday in 1996
|Born||Jeanne Louise Calment
21 February 1875
|Died||4 August 1997
|Cause of death||Natural causes|
|Known for||Longest confirmed lifespan since 17 October 1995
Oldest living person (14 February 1991 – 4 August 1997)
|Spouse(s)||Fernand Calment (lived: 1868–1942; married: 1896–1942)|
Jeanne Louise Calment (French pronunciation: [ʒan lwiz kalmɑ̃]; 21 February 1875 – 4 August 1997) was a French supercentenarian who had the longest confirmed human lifespan in history, living to the age of 122 years, 164 days. She lived in Arles, France, for her entire life, outliving both her daughter and grandson by several decades. Calment became especially well known from the age of 113, when the centenary of Vincent van Gogh's visit brought reporters to Arles. She entered the Guinness Book of Records in 1988, and on 17 October 1995 became the oldest person ever, having surpassed the (now discounted) case of Shigechiyo Izumi of Japan.
Calment became the last living documented person born in the 1870s when the Japanese supercentenarian Tane Ikai (born 1879) died on 12 July 1995, and was thenceforth more than five and a half years older than any other living human being until her death over two years later; in total she outlived 329 undisputedly-verified supercentenarians. Her lifespan has been thoroughly documented by scientific study. More records have been produced to verify her age than in any other case.
Early Life 
Calment was born in Arles in 1875. Her father, Nicolas Calment (28 January 1838 – 22 January 1931), was a shipbuilder, and her mother, Marguerite Gilles (20 February 1838 – 18 September 1924), was from a family of millers. Some of her close family members also lived to an advanced age: her older brother François lived to the age of 97, her father to six days shy of 93, and her mother to 86.
Personal Life 
In 1896, at the age of 21, she married her double second cousin, Fernand Nicolas Calment, a wealthy store owner. Their paternal grandfathers were brothers, hence the same surname, and their paternal grandmothers were also sisters. His wealth made it possible for Calment never to have to work; instead she led a leisured lifestyle, pursuing hobbies such as tennis, cycling, swimming, rollerskating, piano, and opera. Fernand died in 1942 at the age of 73 or 74 after eating a dessert prepared with spoiled cherries.
Their only child, a daughter named Yvonne Marie Nicolle Calment (1898–1934), produced a grandson, Frédéric Billiot, in 1926. Yvonne died at age 35 from pneumonia, after which Calment raised Frédéric herself. Frédéric became a doctor, but died at age 36 in an automobile accident in 1963.
In 1965, aged 90 years and with no heirs, Calment signed a deal to sell her former apartment to lawyer André-François Raffray, on a contingency contract. Raffray, then aged 47 years, agreed to pay her a monthly sum of 2,500 francs until she died. Raffray ended up paying Calment the equivalent of more than $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. During all these years, Calment used to say to them that she "competed with Methuselah".
In 1985, Calment moved into a nursing home, having lived on her own until age 110. Her international fame escalated in 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, 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". Calment recalled selling coloured pencils to Van Gogh, and seeing the Eiffel Tower being built. At the age of 114, she appeared briefly in the 1990 film Vincent and Me as herself, making her the oldest person ever to appear in a motion picture.
A documentary film about her life, entitled Beyond 120 Years with Jeanne Calment, was released in 1995. In 1996, Time's Mistress, a four-track CD of Calment speaking over a background of rap, was released. On her 122nd birthday on 21 February 1997, it was announced that she would make no more public appearances, as her health had seriously deteriorated. She died on 4 August of that same year.
Both before and after Calment's death, there have been several claims to have surpassed her age, but none of them have been proven, and Calment therefore continues to hold the record for the oldest verified person ever.
Record breaking 
After her 1988 interview, at age 113, Calment was given the Guinness title "world's oldest living person". However, in 1989, 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 discounted by subsequent census research. On White's death on 14 February 1991, Calment, then a week shy of 116, became the oldest recognized living person.
On 17 October 1995, Calment reached 120 years and 238 days to become the "oldest person ever" according to Guinness, surpassing Shigechiyo Izumi of Japan, whose claim (120 years 237 days old at the time of his death on 21 February 1986, Calment's 111th birthday) has since been discounted. Calment was believed to have been the first person verified to have reached 115 years of age, although Augusta Holtz has since been verified to have reached this age before her.
Calment also holds the record for being the oldest living person for the longest period of time, by far – with nearly nine years and seven months, counting from the death of Florence Knapp on 11 January 1988, to her own death on 4 August 1997.
Calment broke the record for longest confirmed lifespan (previously thought to have been held by Anna Eliza Williams, who died in 1987 at age 114 years, 208 days, subsequent research has proved that Augusta Holtz was the oldest ever person at this time, she died in 1985 at the age of 115 years, 79 days) by over seven years. Breaking a previous record for age by that amount was, in itself, a record. Before Calment, the only person who had surpassed a former longest confirmed lifespan by more than one year, was Delina Filkins who became the first 113-year-old in 1928. Filkins surpassed the by-then longest confirmed lifespan by just over two years.
Health and lifestyle 
Calment's remarkable health presaged her later record. At age 85 (1960), she took up fencing, and continued to ride her bicycle up until her 100th birthday. She was reportedly neither athletic nor fanatical about her health. 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 after a cooking accident (she was having complications with sight) started a small fire in her house. However, Calment was still in good shape, and continued to walk until she fractured her femur during a fall at age 114 years 11 months (January 1990), which required surgery.
Calment smoked from the age of 21 (1896) to 117 (1992), though according to an unspecified source, she smoked no more than two cigarettes per day. After her operation, Calment needed to use a wheelchair. She weighed 45 kilograms (99 lb) in 1994.
Calment 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 ate nearly one kilogram (2.2 lb) of chocolate every week.
“I’ve never had but one wrinkle, and I’m sitting on it.”
— Jeanne Calment
See also 
- Jeanne Calment – NNDB Retrieved 28 November 2012
- Whitney, Craig R. (5 August 1997). "Jeanne Calment, World's Elder, Dies at 122". New York Times. Retrieved 4 August 2008.
- The Guinness Book of Records, 1999 edition, p. 102, ISBN 0-85112-070-9.
- "World's oldest person dead". McCook Daily Gazette (Paris). 4 August 1997. p. 1. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
- http://www.wilsonsalmanac/book/fed21.html[dead link]
- "Validation of Exceptional Longevity — Jeanne Calment: Validation of the Duration of Her Life". Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. Retrieved 4 August 2008.
- "MILESTONES". Time. 18 August 1997. Retrieved 4 August 2008.
- "World's oldest person dies at 122". CNN. 4 August 1997. Retrieved 4 August 2008.
- "From an interview made in 1989". Boutique.ina.fr. 1989-01-21. Retrieved 2011-11-26.
- "World's oldest person marks 120 beautiful, happy years". News.google.com. 21 February 1995. Retrieved 3 April 2010.
- "Tribute to Jeanne Calment, memorial — Lasting tribute". Lasting Tribute. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
- "Believed to be world's oldest, woman in France dies at 122". Houston Chronicle. 4 August 1997. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
- Addy, Ronda (25 May 2008). "Life expectancy". Sun Journal. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
- "The Oldest Human Beings". Recordholders.org. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
- [dead link]
- An Exceptional Case of Human Longevity, Jeanne Calment. New Orleans: Gerontological Society of America. 23 November 1993.
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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Jeanne Calment|
- Jeanne Calment at the Internet Movie Database
- Image gallery of Jeanne Calment from aged 20 to aged 122
|Oldest recognized living person
11 January 1988 – 4 August 1997
|Oldest recorded person ever
11 May 1990 – present
Anna Eliza Williams
|Oldest person in Europe
27 December 1987 – 4 August 1997
Lucy Jane Askew
|Oldest person in France
20 June 1986 – 4 August 1997