Though they're historically best known for their china pattern selections while in office, the first ladies of our nation boast pre-White House résumés that rival storied politicians. The last three women in chief achieved postgraduate degrees, while many before them dedicated themselves to public service long before becoming a national figurehead. Of course, some list jobs that are just as interesting as the Average Joe backgrounds of their husbands. Let's take a look back at where these bright women got their starts.
Today Germany swore in its youngest post-World War II president — 51-year-old Christian Wulff. This generally would be of no interest to anyone outside Germany, as Chancellor Angela Merkel will remain the country's international face, except Wulff has a stylish, young wife: 36-year-old Bettina Wulff.
With a 5'11" beauty in Bellevue Palace, Germans finally have their own Michelle Obama/Carla Bruni/Samantha Cameron to obsess over. And they have high hopes! A bad translation of "Bettina Wulf — die Deutsch Carla Bruni?" says "she smiles away any government crisis."
With these expectations, maybe we will be hearing more! Find facts to get you started on Bettina below.
It's no shocker that over 40 percent of you chose Michelle Obama as your first lady to love. Whether you like her husband's change or not, you can hardly deny she's upped the ante for future first ladies.
One other woman proved she has an alluring je ne sais quoi. First lady of France Carla Bruni-Sarkozy took 20 percent of the votes. She doubles her first-lady duties with a music and (soon!) acting career, while managing to do damage control when nude photos from her past leak.
But multitasking and Frenchness proved to be no match for America's first lady. She openly talks about marriage challenges; isn't afraid to get dirty in the garden; and makes mistakes. We can relate. Plus, she loves dogs!
Don't forget to check out the rest of our Best of 2009 coverage and defend your own favorites in our Best of 2009 group!
First ladies may marry into their jobs, but that doesn't make life easy. France's Carla Bruni-Sarkozy had a headline-filled year, though it was not all good news. Nude pictures emerged from her past, but her style and smarts continue to win over the world. Britain's Sarah Brown used her English manners to welcome Michelle Obama on her first trip abroad as first lady, which jump-started a whirlwind tour for Michelle that won't end anytime soon. Meanwhile Japan, too, got a new first lady, Miyuki Hatoyama, who seems a little crazy and a lot of awesome.
All these first ladies may not make headlines, but they certainly do serve their countries in style — who does it best?
First Lady Michelle Obama posed with Indonesia's Kristiani Herawati, France's First Lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy, and other spouses of G20 leaders earlier today. Michelle hosted the spouses at the Creative and Performing Arts School in Pittsburgh, PA.
Japan mixed things up this week by electing the opposition party for the first time in 50 years. Along with Prime Minister-elect Yukio Hatoyama, the country will welcome his eccentric wife Miyuki Hatoyama as their first lady. Here are some key facts to help you get to know more about the newest addition to the First Spouses Club.
- Miyuki is a lifestyle guru, macrobiotics enthusiast, retired actress, and designer of such garments as a skirt she made from coffee sacks.
- She says she was abducted by aliens 20 years ago and traveled to the planet Venus.
- Miyuki also says she knew Tom Cruise in a previous life, when he was Japanese. She'd like to make a Hollywood movie with her old friend.
- Then-married Miyuki met her husband in San Francisco, when he was studying at Stanford and she was working at a restaurant. Yukio said: "The average man chooses his mate from among unmarried women. I chose mine from among all women."
I don't know about you, but I can't wait to follow Mr. and Mrs. Hatoyama as they make their way on the international stage!
Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni both landed on Vanity Fair's latest best-dressed list, solidifying them as style icons. But they aren't the only first ladies with an eye toward fashion; check out Sweden's Filippa Reinfeldt (right) photographed with Michelle Obama. Being married to a head of state means spending time in the spotlight and conducting yourself with grace. So take a style lesson from these nine wives of world leaders who define "better half."
Being the first lady is not all tea and cake and greeting foreign dignitaries. Even when it is, there's still a staff to be managed.
The idea of paying the first lady goes back to 1946, when a congressman proposed a $10,000 salary for First Lady Bess Truman, calling the position "the only case of involuntary servitude in America."
Congress rejected the proposal and it never returned to the House again, but that doesn't stop equality revelers from talking it up every four to eight years. Now with the arrival of Michelle Obama, who was the family breadwinner at one point, the question is posed again.
Opponents worry that paying the first lady would set a precedent for senator and governor spouses, who perform many of the same duties on smaller scales. Some see the role as a privilege — an adventure! — that is served at the president's pleasure. Shudder. The president also earns $400,000 per year — eight times the average American household. Not to mention, it could make things messy for a president who prides himself on being clean and accountable. And, well, she's not asking for it!
Outgoing First Lady Laura Bush is said to have received an advance of $1.6 million for her memoir, which is scheduled for release in 2010, though sources say it could be more. Though it seems like a large number, the sum is far below the rumored $8 million that Hillary Clinton received from Simon & Schuster for her eventual bestseller, Living History. The check is in line, however, with the $2 million Nancy Reagan and Laura's mother-in-law Barbara Bush were said to have received for their memoirs.
Yesterday 32 percent of CitizenSugar readers said they were interested in Laura's story, while 44 percent said they were more interested in Hillary's. Could it be no one expects Laura has a dirty story to tell, or is she simply perceived as less of a public figure and political powerhouse than Hillary?