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World Oldest People - First Spot - Jeanne Louise Calment

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Jeanne Calment (February 21, 1875 – August 4, 1997) Jeanne Cament was born in Arles, France, to a well-to-do family, her close family members also unsurprisingly lived to an advanced age: her brother, François, lived to the grand old age of 97, her father, Nicolas, 93, and her mother, Marguerite, 86. In 1896, she decided to marry her second cousin (grandson of her great-uncle) Fernand Calment, a wealthy storeowner. His impressive wealth made it possible for Calment never to have to work: instead she led a very relaxed lifestyle, pursuing hobbies like tennis, cycling, swimming, rollerskating, piano and opera. Her beloved husband died in 1942, after he unfortunately ate a dessert prepared with spoiled cherries

Calment's longevity strangely enough was not shared by her offspring. Her only daughter, Yvonne, died at age 36 in 1934 from pneumonia. As a result, the task of bringing up her grandson Frédéric fell on to her shoulders. He was trained as a doctor, but died in 1963 in a tragic motorcycle accident.

In 1985, Calment finally moved into a nursing home, having lived on her own until age 110. Nevertheless, she did not actually gain international fame until 1988, when the centenary of Vincent van Gogh's visit to Arles provided an occasion to meet reporters. She said that when she was 14, she met van Gogh in her father's shop, later describing him as "dirty, badly dressed and disagreeable." She also later reported attending the 1885 funeral of Victor Hugo.

After her 1988 interview, at age 113, Calment was given the Guinness book of Records' "world's oldest person" title. She was first mentioned in the Guinness Records publication of 1989, in new claims at the end. However, in 1989 the title was withdrawn and given to Carrie C. White of Florida, who was claimed to have been born in 1874, although this has since been disputed by subsequent census research.

On the death of Carrie White on February 14, 1991, Calment, then only a week shy of 116, became the oldest recognized living person. On October 17, 1995 Calment reached 120 years and 238 days to become the Guinness "oldest person ever", surpassing Shigechiyo Izumi of Japan, whose own claim has since also been subject to some considerable doubt. Coincidentally, Izumi died on Calment's 111th birthday.

If the questionable cases of Shigechiyo Izumi and Carrie White are to be discounted, Calment is the first person documented to reach 115, 116, 117, 118, and 119 years old. She is also the only person to have undisputedly lived at least 120 years.

Following Calment's death on August 4, 1997, then almost 117-year-old Marie-Louise Meilleur of Canada became the oldest recognized person in the world.  (wiki)

World Oldest People - Second Spot - Shigechiyo Izumi

Shigechiyo Izumi (June 29, 1865? – February 21, 1986) of Tokunoshima, Amami Islands, Japan was, according to Guinness Book of World Records, the person with the greatest authenticated age in the whole world after the eventual death of Niwa Kawamoto, also from Japan. Assuming his proclaimed birthdate is accuarate, he would have attained an age of 120 years, older than any other recognized male, and the second-longest lived human ever, second only to Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment. He also holds the record for the longest working career for a person, which spanned 98 years. He was recorded as a six-year-old in Japan's first census of 1871. His wife died at the age of 90. He drank shochu (a Japanese alcoholic beverage distilled from barley), and began up smoking at age 70. His long career began in 1872 goading draft animals at a sugar mill, and he finally retired as a sugarcane farmer in 1970 at the age of 105. He attributed his long life to "God, Buddha and the Sun." He was not a tall man as he stood at 1.42 meters (four feet, eight inches) tall and weighed 42.6 kilograms (94 pounds), and an interesting stat is that he lived through 71 Japanese Prime Ministers!


Eventually he died of pneumonia after a brief hospitalization at 12:15 GMT, coincidentally the same day as Jeanne Calment's 111th birthday. He was 120 years and 237 days old (if the 1865 birth year is correct), the last recognized surviving person of the 1860s, the one and only male to live at least 116 years and the longest holder of the revered "oldest living person" title.

Following his death, Mamie Eva Keith took over the title and became the world's oldest person. Also, for more than 20 years after his death every person with the title of the world's oldest living person had been female until Emiliano Mercado del Toro became the world's "oldest living person" on December 11, 2006.

His age has been a matter of some dispute and some historians suggest that he was actually born several years later and named after his older sibling (a brother), who perhaps died young.

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