Surprising ages of two politicians


I was reading an article about Lyndon Johnson the other day and was surprised to learn that he was only 60 when he left office in 1969 and 64 when he died, four years later. I had always thought of Johnson as a really old guy, like Ronald Reagan.

lyndon johnsonThis impression may have been partly due to the fact that Johnson had a jowly and weathered look and came from an era when people didn’t bother as much about looking good for the cameras, unlike these days where politicians are under the constant media spotlight and there is an entire industry devoted to making politicians look good. It may also have been the sharp contrast between him and the much younger and youthful-looking president Kennedy that he succeeded. But an important factor may be that I was a teenager then and anyone who was over forty probably looked very old to me.

rob fordAnother surprise I received recently was about Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford. It turns out that he is only 44 years old. To me he looks much older. Unlike with Johnson, this cannot be explained by my relative youth since I am so much older than he is. I think that it is because he just looks very unhealthy, probably due to all the alcohol and drugs and high living that he seems to indulge in so excessively. He looks like a heart attack waiting to happen.

Comments

  1. wtfwhateverd00d says

    Many of your readers in college or just out are thinking “That IS really old”.

    I think it really is true people age much more slowly than before. I have a college friend who still has a babyface, sort of like Bob Costas.

    Good food? Better medicine? Healthier diets? Less stressful jobs and times? Better safety nets?

    What you notice of politicians I notice for TV guest stars (usually playing murders) from the 70s in shows like Columbo. People I thought growing up must be really old turn out not to be but still look old by today’s standards.

    Peter Falk was in his mid 40s playing Columbo. Bogart 42 for the Maltese Falcon.

  2. Phillip IV says

    and came from an era when people didn’t bother as much about looking good for the cameras, unlike these days where politicians are under the constant media spotlight

    I’m not entirely sure you could really say that, as far as the office of the president of the United States is concerned – at least some presidents before Johnson, notably FDR and Teddy Roosevelt, engineered their appearance quite carefully and consciously. Perhaps Johnson was an exception, but I think it’s at least as likely that he didn’t want to appear more youthful because he wanted to appear as more of a paternal character. (And that’s even leaving aside the fact that Johnson was born at a time when standards of male attractiveness were still as different from what they are today that you had cosmetic products product promising young men to make them look older).

    Nothing of that applies to Rob Ford, of course, so in his case it’s probably really just lifestyle and genes – in addition to looking way older than he is, he also strongly reminds me of Gert Fröbe as Auric Goldfinger. Not only in looks, come to think of it…

  3. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Yaeh. It’s scary how time goes and things and people that seemed old now seem not so much anymore. I’ve always been a terrible judge of people ‘s ages personally speaking.

  4. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Appearances can be and famously often are misleading.

    @ 1. wtfwhateverd00d : “I think it really is true people age much more slowly than before. I have a college friend who still has a babyface, sort of like Bob Costas.”

    Good food? Better medicine? Healthier diets? Less stressful jobs and times? Better safety nets?

    Yes, I think that’s often the case and also newer generations do generally have far easier lives than past ones -at least in the majority of cases in the Western world. Less wars, less hard manual labour, more air-conditioning and modern comforts. A lot of our tahers, grandfatehsr and their great etcs .. rerallydid have things very much tougher!

    Thankyou science and cultural evolution.

  5. WhiteHatLurker says

    Yeah, but Ron Ford acts like a four year old, so there is a balance of some sort there.

    Nobody has pointed out that Johnson was born before Reagan, so that could be part f why he seems older in comparison.

  6. cafink says

    This is only tangentially related, bit one of my favorite boys of trivia is that John Tyler, 10th president of the United States, has two living grandchildren. Both Tyler and one of his sons had children very late in life.

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