Eleanor Roosevelt was also 5' 11," a good seven inches above Laura Bush and Nancy Reagan

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated April 08, 2010 11:50 AM

How does Michelle Obama measure up to the first ladies of the past? She towers over all of them, except one – Eleanor Roosevelt, who, just like Mrs. O, stood a fairly remarkable 5′ 11″.

Mrs. Obama’s height is but one of many facts offered in May’s Condé Nast Traveler cover story, “Mrs. Obama’s Washington: Why the First Lady Loves Her New Hometown.” In it, she also admits to the frustrations of not being able to dip into a D.C. Tex-Mex joint for a bite without upsetting the other customers.

“People are excited but … ,” she says about whenever the Obama motorcade descends.

But back to the question of height.

Compared to the other wives of presidents, Mrs. Obama is a towering figure. Dolly Madison was a mere 5′ 4,” Abigail Van Buren 5′ 6,” Jackie Kennedy (who was considered tall) 5′ 7″ and Bess Truman a “sturdy” 5′ 9,” says the article, which also offers Mrs. Obama’s take on the 5′ 5″ Hillary Clinton – whose legacy, she says, “left a space for me to be who I am today. She left open a broader possibility of what a first lady could be.”

Gracious Laura Bush

The first lady’s immediate predecessor, Laura Bush (5′ 4½),” “has been and continues to be so incredibly gracious and kind and real in a way that I didn’t expect,” says Mrs. Obama. “You don t know the people in this house truly until you get to know them.”

And even Nancy Reagan (5′ 4″) has come to call, says Mrs. O: “Nancy Reagan came to have lunch with me, and we walked around every single room. I want to make sure that all those first ladies continue to feel that this is their home.”

One other attribute that definitely separates Mrs. Obama from other occupants of the Executive Mansion: She hugs. She hugs a lot.

As the article notes, nobody really hugged Jackie Kennedy. Neither did she hug anybody back. Lady Bird Johnson was more of a Texas gripper than a hugger. Pat Nixon nixed hugging. Betty Ford did hug, but Rosalyn Carter didn’t. As for Mrs. Reagan, her hugs could be reserved for West Point cadets – or for Mr. T, on whose lap she memorably sat that time he dressed up as Santa for a White House Christmas.