As Presidents Day approaches, we thought it would fun to share a few little-known tidbits about our past presidents. From former careers to special talents and more, these fun facts are sure to surprise you.
- Ronald Reagan did stand-up comedy. In 1954, Reagan’s acting career was going so badly that he took a gig as a Las Vegas stand-up comic for a few weeks.
- Richard Nixon was a card shark. While in the Navy, Nixon noticed that his friends were winning money in poker games. Always the opportunist, Nixon had the best poker player in his unit teach him how to play. Within only a few months, Nixon had won $6,000 in poker games, which he used to fund his first congressional campaign.
- Gerald and Betty Ford were fashion models. In the 1940s Ford did a bit of modeling and even posed on the cover of Cosmopolitan. His wife, Betty, was also a dancer and fashion model, who signed with the John Robert Powers modeling firm to finance her dance education.
- James Garfield was ambidextrous. Not only was he the first president to be both righty and lefty, but it was said he could write a sentence in Latin with one hand and write it in Greek with the other hand!
- FDR has a movie credit. At a dinner party, Roosevelt regaled guests with a premise for a mystery novel. Magazine editor Fulton Oursler was in attendance, and he hired some writers to flesh out the premise for a novel, which was then adapted into the movie The President’s Mystery. FDR received a “story by” credit.
- Abe Lincoln won a wrestling match. When Lincoln moved to New Salem, Illinois, in 1831, he met a rowdy bunch called The Clarence Grove Boys. Their leader, Jack Armstrong, challenged Lincoln to a wrestling match outside of Denton Offutt’s store, where Lincoln was a clerk, and townspeople gathered to watch and wager on it. Lincoln won the match and Jack’s respect, and the two became best friends.
- Martin Van Buren popularized the phrase “OK.” Van Buren was from Kinderhook, NY, which was also called “Old Kinderhook”. His support groups came to be known as “O.K. Clubs” and the term OK came to mean “all right.”
Happy Presidents Day!