Every single commander-in-chief we’ve had, with the possible exception of Richard Nixon, has been a human being, prone to dropping the stoic facade and falling down stairs, dancing with Ellen, going skydiving, and trying to open locked doors.
They may lead the free world, but they’re capable of both fun and fallacy—and they (intentionally or unintentionally) prove it again and again.
1) After making history as the first—and so far, only—president to resign from the Oval Office, Richard Nixon’s goodbye was just as memorable. His kiss farewell to what well-wishers were left was followed by a famous peace sign.
2) Thanks largely to Chevy Chase and other comedians, Gerald Ford’s unintentional tumbles received more attention than his leadership. Here is Nixon’s successor toppling down the stairs of Air Force One.
3) Ronald Reagan, dubbed the “Great Communicator,” didn’t always live up to the title. In this raw feed of a pre-taped address to the nation, his teleprompter malfunctions. He jokes his way through it.
4) George H.W. Bush spent his post-presidency taking tandem skydives on milestone birthdays. Say what you will about his single term in office, but few of his fellow chief executives jumped out of airplanes.
5) Bill Clinton, a leader whose personal history included everything from an extramarital affair to an admission of “inhaling,” certainly was no stranger to acting “human.” In the months leading up to his 1992 election, he won over the nation by showing off his saxophone skills on The Arsenio Hall Show.
6) George W. Bush, perhaps the Oval Office’s king of gaffes and goofs, attempts to open a locked door following a speech. When he fails to do so, he is lost, not knowing what to do next.
7) Prior to his election in 2008, Barack Obama appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to promote his campaign. In this clip, he shows off some impressive dance moves that never quite make it into the Inauguration Ball footage.
Photo via Andreas Matern/Flickr