(Originally published in the Evergreen Times, May 1st, 2005)
(Author’s note: Originally this article was presented in a private newsletter to a core group of fewer than thirty reader’s that know me well. Now that it is public on the blogosphere I feel compelled to put it in context. This post may come off as a bit chauvinistic. Perhaps it is just a touch so. However, it is not intended to be disrespectful to any person or group, to women in general and certainly not to any of our fine first ladies that have served our nation over the years. But as a note in general, my observation is that a clear plurality of our American female residents partake in a culture of beauty and style. This article was started based on a “buzz” in the media regarding Laura Bush and her beauty. Forget Republicans vs. Democrats and focus on the style and grace. Laura Bush had all that and a bag a chips. In a society that continues to shove young, anorexic visions of “pretty” down our throats, Laura Bush showed that a woman with, fashion sense and class can look fabulous, even sexy, well into middle age carrying a little extra weight. Bravo to the former first lady for that. Comments that offer vitriolic political points or sexual content will not be approved, so do not waste time for either of us with it.)
O.K. I know, ‘foxy’ went out in the seventies, but hey you gotta admit, ‘Foxy First Ladies’ is a little classier than “White House Hotties”.
Lot’s of people are talking about how good looking Laura Bush is. Just do a Google search on her and you’ll see that there is quite a bit of clamor over her beauty. I must certainly concur that Laura Bush is stunning. One man online claimed she was the best looking first lady ever. That comment stopped me in my tracks. It was like a giant red flag went up, “Uh, hello, Uh Jackie O’ uh, time out…” And so the impetus for this article was born.
So with a great deal of online research I came up with this highly biased and personal opinion (of course that is is rare here at the ET, eh??… **snicker**…) Here is the top five best looking presidential first ladies.
- Jaqueline Kennedy
- Frances Cleveland
- Dolley Madison
- Laura Bush
- Helen Taft
I must also give an Honorable mention to Ida McKinley who as a young woman was a starling beauty, but by the time William McKinley ascended to the White House she was deathly ill with epilepsy and a rare vein disease that left her crippled.
So let’s start with our honorable mention. Here is a quote from a noted Presidential historian regarding Mrs. McKinley, “There was little resemblance between the vivacious young woman who married William McKinley in January 1871–a slender bride with sky-blue eyes and fair skin and masses of auburn hair–and the petulant invalid who moved into the White House with him in March 1897. Now her face was pallid and drawn, her close-cropped hair gray; her eyes were glazed with pain or dulled with sedative. Only one thing had remained the same: love which had brightened early years of happiness and endured through more than twenty years of illness.” She was the second oldest on the list at age 50 in her husband’s inaugural year. William McKinley was the 25th president, 1897-1901, Ida lived from 1847-1907.
Next on the list #5, Helen Taft, wife of our 27th president William Howard Taft. The president who wanted to be a Judge, and after his presidency, he was. A supreme court justice as a matter of fact. How did a 300 pound man get a smokin’ hot wife like Helen? Money and power? Ya think? Helen Taft was 48 years old when William took office in 1909, and she had the body of a woman half her age. This woman is on the list for red-blooded American male reasons only. Va-Va-Voom! She lived from 1861-1943. She was quite the party girl known in her youth for drinking and smoking with the boys.
Our charming and beautiful current first lady makes the all time list at #4. Laura Bush was born in 1946 and yes, that makes her the oldest of our top five. She was 55 years old on W’s inauguration. Compared to the top 2 who were 21 and 32 years old! My wife initially said Laura Bush was the prettiest ever but then retracted it when confronted with a picture of Jackie, she was quick to point out how young Mrs. Kennedy was. I like Laura Bush on several levels. She always has a smile on her face, her eyes sparkle like stars on a summer night, she’s not afraid to look like a lady, (take note Hillary) with bright lipstick and outfits that show her full figure while maintaining absolute class. Quite frankly when age is taken into consideration Laura may be number two, only to Jackie O’. But I was unable to consider age, due to a lack of images of older first ladies like Lady Bird Johnson and Mamie Eisenhower. I did find pictures of a young Nancy Reagan but they were 30 years prior to Reagan’s election . I will say at 59, Laura Bush is nothing less than stunning. She has struggled with weight issues over the last several years but during this presidency she has looked fantastic. She carries her weight with elegance and still maintains a very curvy figure. Did I mention she is almost 59 years old!
Dolley Madison the cute as a button spouse of one of our founding fathers and the 4th president, James Madison. Dolley was 41 years old when James took office in 1809 and was still quite lovely. She was well endowed and we can just leave it at that. Dolley lived from 1768-1849
Here is where things get tough. The lovely lady at #2 might well have been number one if only there was more images of her. Our number one choice lived a century later and was photographed constantly. The other challenge lies in the then new technology of photography. Traditional painted portraits were waning in popularity as the 19th century came to a close. Unfortunately, in those days the subject had to remain very still. This gave a false impression of rigidity. Taking that in to account Frances Cleveland is gorgeous. At just 21 years old when Cleveland was inaugurated she is the youngest on the list. This quote sums it up well, “I detest him so much that I don’t even think his wife is beautiful.”; said one of President Grover Cleveland’s political foes. One historian notes “It appears he was the only person, to deny the loveliness of the first lady to marry in the White House.” Also of note Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th president. He lost re-election but came back and won 4 years later. She lived from 1864-1947. Cleveland was president from 1885-1889 and again from 1893-1897.
Jaqueline Kennedy is the Foxiest First Lady. It’s hard to argue and hey, I tried. After all, JFK was a Democrat! But to no avail the evidence is clearly visible. Jackie was just beautiful. She had style, class, and no excuses needed great looks. She also has to be the most celebrated first lady ever with an indelible legacy. Jackie was just 32 when Kennedy took office in 1961 as the 35th president. She lived from 1929 to 1994 and looked good till the day she died.