Jeanne Calment. She lived to 122, from 1875 to 1997.
She said that she met Vincent Van Gogh as a child, and that he was dirty, poorly dressed, and disagreeable.
She smoked until she was 117.
One of the funnier things about her life is that when she was 90, a 47 year old lawyer got her to sign a contract so that if she died, he’d get her apartment. In return, he’d give her a monthly stipend.
He assumed she’d be dead within a couple years at most, so he was hoping to get her apartment on the cheap.
But she just kept living. Eventually he died at 77, never having received the apartment. His widow kept paying Calment after his death per the contract.
By the time she died, she’d been paid $180,000… over twice the apartment’s worth.
A funny fact about her was that she stopped smoking when well over 100 because she couldn’t see well enough to light her own cigarettes and didn’t want to rely on someone else doing it for her. A while later she thought what the hell and started up again.
After her interview in 1988, at age 113, Calment was given the Guinness title “world’s oldest living person”. However, in 1989, the title was withdrawn and given to Carrie C. White of Florida, who claimed to have been born in 1874, although this has been discounted by subsequent census research. On White’s death on 14 February 1991, Calment, then a week shy of 116, became the oldest recognized living person.
On 17 October 1995, Calment reached 120 years and 238 days to become the “oldest person ever” according to Guinness, surpassing Shigechiyo Izumi of Japan, whose claim (120 years 237 days old at the time of his death on 21 February 1986, Calment’s 111th birthday) has since been discounted.