Michelle Obama’s plans to mark her 50th birthday with a White House dance party — celebrities are expected, but no dinner’s being served — falls somewhere in the middle on the fanciness spectrum of previous First Lady’s 50th birthday celebrations.
Representing the polar ends of the spectrum:
Hillary Clinton also turned 50 while her husband was in office, in 1997. The then-First Lady marked the occasion with a string of parties, including a surprise black-tie affair for 100 thrown by friends, a White House bash for 500, and a two-day celebration in her hometown of Chicago (including an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show) culminating in a big event at the Cultural Center which the Post reported was attended by “dignitaries, celebrities, and movers and shakers.”
That’s a lot of cake.
The whole thing, which the Reliable Source dubbed “epic,” wrapped up with a birthday fundraiser for the DNC.
But not every First Lady’s half-century mark was so lavishly feted. In 1934, party pooper Eleanor Roosevelt downplayed her own 5-0, which also fell during her husbband’s presidency. “I have a theory when you get to my age, birthdays shouldn’t be a time to celebrate,” she told the Associated Press at the time. “The more you forget your birthdays as you grow older, the younger you stay.”
The AP reported that she did allow a bit of cake “at tea time” to mark the occasion, at her kids’s request.