Bill Clinton became known to the country as the “Man from Hope,” telling audiences with signature charm and a twinkle in his eye that he had been afforded the opportunity to start from nothing, and yet shake President John F. Kennedy’s hand at the same time.

The episode sparked a lifelong interest in public service.

Born in Hope, Arkansas in 1946, he would go through a tough childhood in a small town of about 8,000 before his political promise and bright learning abilities helped him go on to achieve high marks in college. It was at Yale Law School in 1972 that he met Hillary Rodham, and the pair would never look back.

With so much written about the Clintons over the past 16 months, we’re taking a fun look back at some interesting facts about the 42nd president that you might not have known:

The Man from Hope


Bill Clinton’s father, a traveling salesman, was killed in a car accident a full three months before he was born. His 22-year-old mother struggled, raising several children and remarrying a man with whom Clinton would forever have beef with.

According to his biography, at the age of 14, Clinton stood taller than 6′ 0″, and snapped at his drunken and abusive stepfather and stared him down, an incident that precluded his mother’s separation with Roger Clinton.

And yet, hope never subsided in young Bill. Maybe it was his boyhood hero, TV cowboy Hopalong Cassidy who got him through the tough times. Throughout high school he relished the opportunity to practice the saxophone, and excelled academically enough to warrant scholarships for both his musicianship and student achievements.

At once a Rhodes Scholar and rugby player

Bill Clinton in 1978 (Wikimedia Commons)

Bill Clinton in 1978 (Wikimedia Commons)

In graduate school, Clinton earned the prestigious Rhodes Scholar award to go study at Oxford. It was there that he partook in team sports as a rugby player in his two years of attendance starting in 1968.

Many of his fellow Americans were fishing in Vietnam at the time. One of his most discernible political criticisms, especially from the right, is that he was a draft dodger. Clinton actually felt guilty about leaving for Oxford during the war, and re-entered his name in the draft, although his number was too high.

“There were 30-plus American scholars that year [at Oxford], and I’m sure you couldn’t find anyone who wasn’t opposed to the war,” a former classmate told People.

The Boy Governor

Returning home as the apple of Arkansas’ political eye, Clinton won election to become Arkansas’ governor at just 32 years of age while working closely with Hillary to craft a winning campaign. He was the youngest governor in the country.

That meant inexperience, though, which led him to make some key mistakes as governor that became unpopular with the people of Arkansas, like a new tax on automobiles and  a poor public response to an escape by Cuban refugees held in the state.

That led to a loss in his next election — but he would remain unfazed, coming back to win a second term following two years at a private law firm.

Infidelity rumors dogged him as early as 1978

Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton (AP file Photo)

Monica Lewinsky and President Bill Clinton (AP Photo)

President Clinton infamously faced the first presidential impeachment trial in 130 years, when White House intern Monica Lewinsky claimed to have had sexual relations with him while he was commander in chief.

But it was Gennifer Flowers who first made the claim, all the way back when he was Arkansas’ attorney general, when she was 35 years old. Her name resurfaced around the time of the 2016 presidential debates, when she claimed that Hillary — the Democratic nominee — had helped silence reports of an alleged rape.

At least eight women have come forward claiming improper relations with the 42nd president.

Bill Clinton owns a Grammy Award

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

In 2004, well after he had left the White House, the former president joined his wife as a Grammy Award winner for “Best Spoken Word Album” in an effort as a narrator for “Wolf Tracks and Peter and the Wolf,” a conceptual album by a French composer who employed the Russian orchestra for the effort.

He became the first former U.S. president to win the accolade, and will be joined by Barack Obama as the only other when he leaves office on Jan. 20.

Clinton also owns a Medal of Freedom, along with several honorary degrees and awards of prestige for his efforts in public service.