Richard Milhous Nixon (1913-1994) was the 37th president of the United States, serving between 1969-1974. He also served as the 36th vice president from 1953 to 1961, and one can say he had a very 'busy' and interesting political career!
Regarding his height, he certainly stood over the average of around 5'9" for his time, holding his own next to the majority of taller figures he was pictured with throughout the years.
Even so, he did appear slightly shorter during his final years. So, on this page, we will compare his prime height VS the height he stood at in later life, and we will do this by investigating his height claims, measurements, and comparing him to celebs he was pictured with.
What Height is Nixon Really?
Towards the end of his life, Nixon developed a slight hunch and lost some height, standing at between 5'9.75"-5'10" tall. In his prime years, however, he woke up closer to 5'11", and held a strong 5'10.75" (179.7 cm) tall throughout the majority of the day.
On a 1937 application form to join the FBI (which was rejected), Nixon reported his height as 5'11" and weight as 160 lbs.
Also, part of the process was a medical examination that listed Nixon as 69.5 inches, or 5'9.5" tall, and 162 pounds.
So aged 27, a fully grown Nixon measured 1.5 inches under what he claimed (given his other measurements it doesn't make sense). Yet, I believe that after waking in the morning he did indeed measure 5'11" tall, so this is a perfectly reasonable height to claim.
During his active military service years in the Navy, Nixon was measured as follows:
- A Physical Examination in 1943 reported: Height 5ft 10.5", Weight 165 lbs
- A Physical Examination in 1945 reported: Height 5ft 10.5", Weight 162 lbs
During his inactive years, a later examination in 1957 measured him as follows:
- Height 5'10", Weight 170 lbs
By 1957, Nixon was only in his 40s, so wouldn't have lost half an inch of height. This measurement could have been taken later in the day or rounded down.
Height Compared With Presidents in Early Years
Let's compare Nixon's height to other Presidents that he has stood next to over the years.
Winston Churchill 5'7" (170.2 cm) Prime Height
In Nixon's meetings with Winston Churchill, Churchill had lost height and was down to 5'6.25" tall. During their meetings, there was a distinct height difference, with Nixon being the taller of the pair.
For instance, when Nixon was Vice President the pair met in London, 1958, where there was a clear 4.5 inch height difference, and this carries itself over to other photos of them out and about together.
Therefore, next to Churchill, Nixon appears 5'10.75" tall.
John F. Kennedy 6'0" (182.9 cm)
Competing in one of the closest Presidential elections in American history during 1960, when standing together, John looks to be taller. For instance, during the first-ever televised Presidential debate in 1960, there was a 1-1.25 difference in height between the pair.
In other photos throughout the election period, however, the height difference appears to be a solid 1.25 inches.
Therefore, with Kennedy, Nixon appears to be 5'10.75"-5'11" tall.
Nixon's upper back was slightly hunched in his later years, and he appeared slightly shorter.
Ronald Raegan 6'0.75" (184.8 cm) Prime Height
In the examples here Raegan had also lost height, and aged 79, stood close to 6 feet tall.
One example is when Nixon and Raegan met at the Dedication of the Nixon Library in 1990, where Nixon looks a comfortable 2 inches shorter than Raegan. Also, a year later in 1991, they met again for the Dedication of the Ronald Reagan Library, where again, Nixon appears a few inches shorter than Raegan.
So when pictured next to Ronald Raegan during his final years, Nixon appeared 5'10" tall.
Bill Clinton 6'2" (188 cm)
When Nixon Met then-President Bill Clinton at the White House in early 1993, Nixon was 81 years old. When standing directly opposite each other, he appeared to be 4.25 inches shorter than Bill.
So compared to Bill Clinton in his final years, Nixon appears 5'9.75" tall.
The Results - in earlier years, Nixon appeared close to 5'11" tall, and in later years he lost an inch of height, standing closer to 5'10".
First Shorter Candidate in 64 Years to Win Presidency
During the years of 1904-1968, the elected U.S. president was the taller candidate, and if you were a gambling man you could have put the odds in your favor by guessing on height alone!
This comes as no surprise, as height is often associated with power and leadership, and this may have been a factor in the 1960 election as Nixon stood 1.5 inches shorter than JFK when he was defeated.
Regarding Nixon's defeat to JFK, their heights were referenced in an article from New York Magazine in 1974, referring to the "extreme" differences in physical appearance between the two candidates, and how "damaging" they were for Nixon, mentioning that:
"Kennedy gave the appearance of being tall, Nixon did not." (1)
Nixon Broke The Losing Streak
Although he lost to JFK in his first run for President, fortunately for Nixon, he beat the odds stacked against him for being the shorter man when he faced Hubert H. Humphrey for the Presidency in 1968.
Humphrey stood at 5'11", and Nixon stood half an inch shorter, being the first shorter candidate to win the American Presidency in 64 years!
Not only that, but he won the Presidency again in 1972 when he comfortably beat the taller George McGovern, who stood at 6'1", with Nixon standing 2.5 inches shorter!
Other Interesting Info
- In the top 5 tallest ever American Presidents, 4 of them died between 140-225 years ago!
- Compared to the heights on this list, Richard Nixon is the 26th tallest President.
- The tallest President was Abraham Lincoln with a height of 6'4", and the shortest is James Madison at 5'4", with a 12 inch/1 foot difference in height!
- The average height of all Presidents is 5'10.5" (179.1 cm). This correlates perfectly with Nixon's peak height and is half an inch taller than he stood at in his final years.
- There have been 31 elections from 1900-2020, and in 21 of them, the elected candidate was taller, with an average of over 1 inch difference in height!
During his final years and into his 80s, Richard Nixon lost some height and stood around 5'10" tall, which is comfortably 2+ inches taller than the average 80+-year-old man. In his youth, however, he stood closer to 5'11" for the majority of the day, and on this page, I will list his height as 5'10.75" (179.7 cm).
Heights Related to Richard Nixon
- Pat Nixon, Wife (m. 1940-1993), 5'5.5" (166.4 cm)
- Spiro Agnew, Vice President (1969-1973), 6'1.5" (186.7 cm)
- Gerald Ford, Vice President (1973-1974), 6'0" (182.9 cm)
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, President (1953-1961) with Nixon as Vice President, 5'10.5" (179.1 cm)
- Lyndon B. Johnson, Preceded Nixon as President (1963-1969), 6'3" (190.5 cm)