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BIOGRAPHY

Jeanne Louise Calment was born at 7:00 AM on 21 February 1875 in Arles, France. Her close family members also lived to an advanced age: her brother, Francois, lived to the age of 97, her father, Nicolas, 92, and her mother, Marguerite, 86.

In 1896, she married her second cousin (grandson of her great-uncle) Fernand Calment, a wealthy store owner. His wealth made it possible for Calment to never have to work; instead, she led a relaxed lifestyle, pursuing hobbies like tennis, cycling, swimming, roller skating, piano, and opera. Her husband died in 1942 after eating a dessert that happened to contain spoiled cherries.

Jeanne Calment and her husband had a daughter, Yvonne (19 January 1898 – 19 January 1934), who died from pneumonia on her 36th birthday. She also outlived her grandson, Frederic Billot (23 December 1926 – 13 August 1963), who died in an automobile accident.

At the age of 100, Calment suffered a fall that broke her ankle, but Calment to learn to walk again and continued living independently. She lived on her own until two weeks before her 110th birthday in 1984. Following a small fire accidentally being set in her home, she reluctantly moved to a nursing home. In April 1986, aged 111, she was hospitalized due to heart failure, and was treated with digoxin. She continued to walk with minimal assistance until shortly before her 115th birthday, when she broke her hip after suffering a fall. Despite recovering well from the surgery, she celebrated her 115th birthday from her hospital bed, and remained wheelchair bound for the rest of her life. Throughout her final decade of life, her vision gradually deteriorated, to the point where she could see little more than light by the time she was 114, and could only hear well out of one ear.

Neuropsychologist Karen Ritchie tested Calment for incipient dementia over a number of years. Through her tests, she found that Calment not only didn’t suffer from dementia, but saw her cognitive abilities improve through the testing.

Following her 122nd birthday, it was announced that Calment would no longer make any public appearances. Calment died on 4 August 1997 in Arles, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, France at the age of 122 years, 164 days.

RECOGNITION

Jeanne Calment was first publicly recognized for her longevity when she was 113 years old. She reported that she had seen Vincent van Gogh (who died in 1890) when she was 13 years old. This claim made her appear in the 1990 movie Vincent and Me, where she played herself and became the oldest person ever to appear in a film.

After the death of Florence Knapp on 11 January 1988, she became the world’s oldest verified living person and she became the oldest verified person ever after surpassing the record of Augusta Holtz on 11 May 1990. However, Carrie C. White claimed to have been older than Calment, but her original claim to 116 is disputed, and she may have been 102 years old instead. On 17 October 1995, she surpassed the at-the-time verified age of Shigechiyo Izumi to become the oldest person ever at 120 years, 238 days old. However, Izumi’s claim is now disputed.

In 2023, the LongeviQuest Global Validation Commission unanimously voted to uphold recognition of Madame Calment’s age after her validation was challenged by Dr. Nikolay Zak and Dr. Philip Gibbs.

Some information in this Directory Profile may have been adapted from contributions to the Gerontology Wiki.

ATTRIBUTION

GALLERY

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