Jeanne Calment

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Jeanne Calment

Born February 21, 1875
Arles, France
Died August 4, 1997 (aged 122, 164 days)
Arles, France
Spouse Fernand Calment (lived: 1868–1942,
married: 1896–1942)

1 child

Jeanne Calment (February 21, 1875 - August 4, 1997) was the world's oldest person at 122 years when she died in 1997. Her birth date has been authenticated based on official records.[1]


Jeanne Calment was born on February 21, 1875 in Arles, France as documented in the local register. In 1888, when she was 14 years-old and working in her uncle's art supplies store she met Vincent Van Gogh. She remembers him as being "very ugly, ungracious, impolite, sick".[2] In 1896, when she was 21 she married a cousin by the name of Fernand Calment. His job made enough money to provide her a leisurely lifestyle and allowed her to take up such hobbies as the piano and bicycle riding. In 1942 her husband died from food poisoning. The union of the two produced one child, named Yvonne, who gave birth to a single son, Elliot, in 1926. Yvonne died of pneumonia eight years later and Jeanne took Elliot in and raised him. Elliot died in a car accident in 1960.

Jeanne continued riding her bicycle as her primary means of transportation until she reached the age of 100 after which she resorted to walking with a cane. At 110 years of age, and with no living descendants, Jeanne moved into a nursing home after an oven fire. At 114 years old she broke her femur and resorted to using a wheelchair from then on. She took up smoking at age 21 and smoked until around the time she was 117 after doctors insisted that she quit. She drank much local wine and claimed to have eaten as much as two pounds of chocolate a week for much of her life. She died on August 4, 1997 at 122 years, 164 days old.[3][4]

She was known to be very witty and to be very cognizant up until around a month before she died. At the time of her death she was blind and almost completely deaf.[5]


Jeanne came to world attention in 1988 when the world media descended on Arles for the 100th anniversary of Van Gogh's visit there. That year the Guinness Book of World Records gave her the title of "World's Oldest Living Person" though that title was withdrawn and given to Carrie White in a now disputed move. She regained the title at 116 years-old when White passed away. She gained the title of "World's Oldest Person" in 1995 when she hit 120 years, 238 days. The previous record had been held by Shigechiyo Izumi though his age is currently disputed as well making Jeanne the only person documented to have reached 120 years of age.[6]

In 1990, when she was 114, she appeared in the movie Vincent et Moi making her the oldest person to appear in a movie.[7][8]

Jeanne Calment still holds the title of "World's Oldest Person."[9]