Jeanne Louise Calment (February 21, 1875 – August 4, 1997) was a Frenchwoman with the longest confirmed lifespan in history at 122 years and 164 days (44,724 days in total). She lived in Arles, France, for her entire life, and outlived both her daughter and grandson. Because her husband was wealthy, she never worked, instead living a comfortable lifestyle. She became well-known from the age of 113, when the centenary of Vincent van Gogh brought reporters to Arles, as she was the last person living to have met the artist. She entered the Guinness Book of Records in 1988, and in 1993 was declared the oldest person who had ever lived (while discounting the disputed case of Shigechiyo Izumi). Her lifespan has been thoroughly documented by scientific study, with more records having been produced to verify her age than for any other case.
She had one daughter, Yvonne, who was born in 1898, and a grandson, Frédéric, born in 1926. She outlived her daughter, who died at age 36 in 1934 from pneumonia. Frédéric became a doctor, and Calment outlived him as well after he died in 1963 due to a motorcycle accident.
In 1965, aged 90, with no living heirs, Jeanne Calment signed a deal to sell her former apartment to lawyer Andrei-François Raffray, on a contingency contract. Raffray, then aged 47, agreed to pay her a monthly sum of 2,500 francs until she died, an agreement sometimes called a "reverse mortgage". Raffray ended up paying Calment more than the equivalent of $180,000, which was more than double the apartment's value. His widow was still paying Calment until she died, after Raffray had died of cancer at the age of 77.
In 1985, Calment moved into a nursing home, having lived on her own until age 110. Nevertheless, she did not gain international fame until 1988, when the centenary of Vincent van Gogh's visit to Arles provided an occasion to meet reporters. She said at the time that she had met Van Gogh 100 years before, i.e. in 1888, as a thirteen-year-old girl in her uncle's fabric shop, where he wanted to buy some canvas, later describing him as "dirty, badly dressed and disagreeable", and "very ugly, ungracious, impolite, sick".
At the age of 114, she appeared briefly in the 1990 film Vincent and Me as herself, making her the oldest actress ever. A French documentary film about her life, entitled Beyond 120 Years with Jeanne Calment, was released in 1995. In 1996, to celebrate her 121st birthday, a record company released "Time's Mistress", a four-track CD of her speaking over a background of rap and hip hop. After her 122nd birthday, it was decided she should get no more publicity, as her health had seriously deteriorated, and she died five months later.
On White's death on February 14, 1991, Calment, then a week shy of 116, became the oldest recognized living person. In 1993, she entered the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest living person, whose birthdate could be reliably authenticated. On October 17, 1995 Calment reached 120 years and 238 days to become the Guinness Records' "oldest person ever", surpassing Shigechiyo Izumi of Japan, whose own claim (120 years, 237 days old at his death in 1986) has also been subject to some doubt. If the cases of Shigechiyo Izumi and Carrie White are 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.