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122 years old: the story of the world's oldest woman whose age was disputed after her death


Source: Adme

Jeanne Louise Kalman is considered the oldest person who ever lived. She survived 20 French presidents and died in 1997 when she was 122 years and 164 days old. Since her 110th birthday, Kalman talked to journalists every year on her birthday and was glad of this attention: “I waited 110 years to become famous,” she once said. However, not everyone believes her: the true age of women has repeatedly tried to challenge. Jeanne's story is told

Photo: Shutterstock

Youth and a chance meeting with Van Gogh

Over-long-lived Jeanne Calment was born in 1875 in the city of Arles. So that you understand how long ago it was, here are some facts about that time: this year Fyodor Dostoevsky published The Teenager, and Carmen was staged for the first time on the stage of the Paris Opera. Even the telephone has not yet been invented, and the famous Eiffel Tower will appear only in 14 years.

Jeanne grew up in a bourgeois family. Her father was a shipbuilder by profession, but owned his own shop. The mother was the daughter of simple millers. The girl also had an older brother, Francois, who, by the way, also turned out to be a long-liver. He died at 97.

When Kalman was a teenager, she worked in her father's shop. Once Van Gogh himself came to them for shopping. Kalman admitted in one of her interviews that she did not want to serve the artist, because "he was as terrible as a mortal sin, had a nasty disposition and smelled of booze from him."

Marriage and a series of heavy losses

At 21, Jeanne married Fernand Kalman's second cousin. The priest approved the marriage, despite the rather close relationship: the grandfathers of the newlyweds on the paternal side were brothers to each other, and the wives of these grandfathers were sisters.

Jeanne's newly minted husband was the owner of a thriving store, so she lived without worries and hassles and since then has not worked a day. Madame Kalman led a very active lifestyle: she played tennis, rode a bicycle, swam, roller-skated, loved to spend time at the piano or at the opera.

2 years after the wedding, Fernand and Jeanne had their only daughter, Yvonne. The family flourished: in 1926, Yvonne married an artillery captain and in the same year gave birth to a son, Frederic. But this was the end of the family's joys: after 8 years, Jeanne Kalman's daughter died of pneumonia, and after another 8 years Fernand passed away (he was poisoned by spoiled cherries).

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Grieving, Jeanne devoted her life to the education of Frederick and helped her widowed son-in-law. The boy grew up, became a doctor, and married in 1950. And 13 years later, the grandson Kalman died in a car accident. In January of the same year, Jeanne's son-in-law also died. So at 88 years old, Madame Kalman was left without heirs.

In conversations with reporters, she reluctantly spoke about all her losses. However, before her death, Zhanna Kalman asked that a photo of her grandson be hung in her coffin on the right, and a photo of her daughter on the left.

“They will be buried with me,” she said.

Photo: video frame YouTube / mtilton

Good deal with a lawyer (but not for him)

When Kalman turned 90, the lawyer François Raffre became interested in her person. He offered Kalman a life-support contract, popular among French pensioners. Under this agreement, Raffre pledged to pay Jeanne every month 2 French francs. For this, after the death of the owner, Kalman's apartment was to go to a lawyer.

The market price of the Kalman apartment was 10 years of payments. But the Frenchwoman lived for another 32 years. Raffre himself did not manage to become the owner of the apartment, because he died at 77 (Kalman was 120 at that time). After the death of the lawyer, payments did not stop: the remaining 2 years, Jeanne was paid by the widow of Raffre.

“There are sometimes bad deals in life,” Madame Kalman said about this situation.

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Kalman lifestyle and secrets of her longevity

The lifestyle of the famous long-liver was not perfect. She indulged her bad habits until she was a very respectable age and stopped doing it only at the age of 117 due to problems with mobility. Perhaps the secret of Kalman's longevity lies in her special diet: she ate about 1 kilogram of chocolate a week (while she was small and thin all her life) and adored olive oil.

Kalman was very fond of sports: until she was 100, she rode a bicycle. From the age of 109, I got up every day at 6:45. Sitting in a chair, Zhanna was engaged in gymnastics, she paid special attention to her hands. The nurses of the nursing home, where Kalman lived after 110 years, said that the old woman was very playful and moved well.

And at 115, Madame Kalman starred in an episode of the film about Van Gogh "Vincent and Me". There she played herself. Until the end of her days, Jeanne was in a sober mind and a solid memory. She gladly recited poems that she had learned in childhood, and easily solved examples.

Over-longevity or fraud?

2 years ago, Russian scientists questioned the reliability of Zhanna Kalman's record. According to the mathematician Nikolai Zak, Jeanne's daughter did not actually die in her youth. All this time Yvonne pretended to be her mother.

The argument goes like this: Zhanna Kalman died in 1934, and the relatives simply did not want to pay the inheritance tax of 35%. The fact is that the Kalman family had already given a fair amount of money to the state in 1931 after the death of Jeanne's father and stepmother. Therefore, they decided to bury Madame Kalman under the name of her daughter.

Following this statement, an entire coalition of Swiss and French scientists began their investigation. They picked up archives, newspaper clippings of the time and provided evidence that there was no substitution.

French and Swiss scientists called the version of Russian scientists "an unfounded conspiracy theory based on inaccurate facts," writes Air force.

Photo: video frame YouTube / Michael Rubbo


The authors cite a number of proofs of the truthfulness of the Kalman story - in particular, an archival publication from a local newspaper in the French city of Arles, where the Kalman family lived. An article from 1934 tells the story of Yvonne Kalman, who died of an illness at the age of 36. At the funeral of Yvonne, according to the newspaper, “an unusually large crowd of townspeople” gathered.

Scientists note that it is unlikely that among such a large public there were no people who would have noticed the substitution - "unless we consider the version that Yvonne had dozens of accomplices."

The study also rejects the version of Russian scientists that it is statistically impossible to live to 122.

A group of scientists from the University of Geneva compiled a mathematical model based on a database of centenarians born in France between 1875 and 1903. Statistically, the probability of living to 122 years was equal to 1 in 10 million - that is, mathematically, the story of Jeanne Kalman fits well into the framework of the possible.

“Considering that since the beginning of the 8th century, no less than 10-100 million people have been born in the world who have lived to be 122 years old, the existence of a person who lived to be XNUMX years old at the end of the XNUMXth century sounds quite plausible,” says one of the authors of the study. Francois Errmann, professor of gerontology at the University Hospitals in Geneva.

Two days after the publication of the new study, the prosecutor's office of the commune of Tarascon announced that it would not amend the death certificate of Jeanne Calment.

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