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Top 10 Bizarre Actions By First Ladies

While some First Ladies choose to keep a low profile, others have concerned themselves with the task of adding color to the premier office of the country. Along the way, some of these women have managed to perform acts that continue to flummox long after they were carried out. From Mira Markovic, who assumed the role of Lady Macbeth of the Balkans, to Simone Duvalier, Papa Doc’s trusted accomplice, we look at ten women whose megalomania was so consummate that they took their ambitions to ludicrous ends.


Mira Markovic’s diaries in Duga

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There are some evil first ladies and then there is Mirajina Markovic, wife of Slobodan Milosevic, President of former Yugoslavia. At a time when her husband was stirring up hatred between the different communities of his country, Mira decided that it was only appropriate that she publish her musings of such trivial matters as the flight of a butterfly. What is more astonishing is that the Belgrade magazine Duga decided to publish her views on life in the Balkan state during the Bosnian war. In time, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and charged with fraud, but just like that butterfly she flew to Moscow where she lives under the protection of the Kremlin.


Nancy Reagan’s Tryst with the Astrologer

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After an unsuccessful attempt on the life of her beloved husband Ronald, Nancy Reagan turned to the unlikeliest of sources for comfort- an astrologer by the name of Joan Quigley. Mrs. Quigley was consulted on the timing of all political events. No public appearance was made if the charts predicted a bad omen, and she is said to have wielded a strong influence on the president’s political decisions. Her services were terminated and her charts disposed of when Donald Reagan was appointed as Chief of Staff, but a similar fate befell him after the Iran-Contra affair. The Oracle had spoken.


Imelda Marcos and her Shoes


If Imelda Marcos wore a new pair of shoes everyday, it would take her about eight years to go through her collection. With over 3000 shoes and a plethora of other expensive paraphernalia, Imelda’s name has become synonymous with ostentation to an extent that a museum was dedicated only to her personals.When asked to explain her extravagance against the backdrop of the grinding poverty of the Philippines she replied that she did it to be ‘some kind of light, a star to give [the poor] guidelines.’ What the guidelines were, we will never know.


Simone Duvalier and Slums


If marrying Papa Doc was not bad enough, Simone Duvalier or ‘Mama Doc’ presided over a reign of terror with her husband as the helm. She assumed the title of benefactor, dispensing wealth to build the ‘Cite Simone.’ The health minister of Haiti is supposed to have said that it was ‘a large and magnificent piece of land’ and gone so far as to build a medical social complex in a tribute to the Madame. However, in an ironic twist of fate, the neighborhood developed into one of the biggest slums in the Northern Hemisphere. Oh Simone, if you plan to name a whole neighborhood by your name, the least you can do is to upkeep it.


Cherie Blair’s lifestyle expert


An unlikely twosome they made. One was the wife of the British Prime Minister while the other was a topless model, but when Mrs. Blair roped in Carole Caplin as a lifestyle adviser, little would you think that it included a re-birthing process which involved smearing food and mud over herself and her husband in a steam bath. Furthermore, she attributed her fourth pregnancy to New Age Sexual techniques, also introduced to her by Caplin.


The Sunday Times (Dis)grace Mugabe


There are many adjectives one can use to describe the wife of Robert Mugabe, but the word ‘grace’ can hardly figure on that list. On a holiday in Hong Kong, a reporter for the Sunday Times is said to have incensed her to such an extent that she decided to take matters into her own hands, punching and slapping him repeatedly. The poor reporter is said to have suffered from cuts, abrasions, and bruises from head to face, caused by the diamond rings on her fingers. Not the kind of splurging you would expect from the first lady of a country whose citizens depend on food aid, is it?


Clarissa Eden’s Road to the Suez

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‘In the past few weeks, I have really felt as if the Suez Canal is flowing through the living room’, quipped Clarissa Eden in support of her husband after Gemal Nasser had nationalized the waterway. An uproar ensued and ultimately her husband resigned amid massive protests from the Labour party. In time, she came around to say that it was an idiotic, silly comment, but the damage had been done. She wanted her husband’s political life to be seen not only through the ‘prism of Suez’, but if only history is that kind.


Suha Arafat and Cancer

Suha Arafat

The First lady of Palestine, Suha Arafat was perhaps the unlikeliest candidate to assume the position of Arafat’s wife. Her enormous wealth, western education, Christian faith and not to mention the forty something years of difference that existed between her and her future husband would have seemed impediments to marriage, but ultimately love triumphed. And as it is customary for the first lady to make clear her political inclinations, Suha went ahead and accused Israel of using poisonous gas against Palestinians which caused cancer. Given the long history of the conflict it is folly to rule anything out, but poisonous gas and cancer? Sorbonne University must have some bad chemistry professors.


Sara Netanyahu Throws Shoes


The dubious honor of the first political shoe thrower went not to Muntadhar al-Zeidi (George Bush’s nemesis), but to Sara Netanyahu. The third wife of Benjamin Netanyahu, Sara has long been associated with boisterousness. One of her most infamous political gaffe was the shoe incident where she threw improperly shined shoes at her assistant and screamed “If the prime minister were to have seen what you did to his shoes, he would have butchered you, butchered you! You painted them, and now you have to pay for this.” Not the paragon of restraint the world was looking for to help Benjamin in his quest for peace.


Mrs Endara tells the teachers to stick it


Controversy seemed to follow Panama’s first lady Ana Mae Endara. Thirty years the junior of President Guillermo Endara, Ana Mae made sure she was in the news,albeit for the wrong reasons. When she did not attend state funerals in green slackers or protest against the country’s ‘rubbish’ judicial system, the first lady was telling people to stick votes up ‘you know where.’ Yes,really.At least that is what she told 26,000 teachers when they threatened to vote against the ruling party in the forthcoming elections. Perhaps the reason why her husband received 2.3 per cent of the vote the last time he contested in the general elections.

Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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  • Darren

    I think ‘bizarre actions’ could be an understatement in some of these cases.

  • keyshock

    Great list! Just goes to show that the powerful ones attract the crazies! You’d think they’d make better judgement calls!

  • The Lovely Macabre Lolita

    Wow, first? And holy hell, I didn’t know half of those. A very informative, and semi depressing list indeed..

  • The Lovely Macabre Lolita

    What I meant was, why didn’t first say anything else, other than “first comment”? Kinda a headdesk moment.

  • keyshock

    Haha, oh and, Imelda? Her shoes are probably the least bizarre thing about her. There’s this documentary about her, shows her in all her CRAZY glory.

  • astraya

    Was Winnie Mandela a first lady? ie had they divorced by the time he was president?

    Otherwise: Eva Peron.

  • slgw k ass

    woo in the 10 spot comments. x]

  • calm incense

    I find it hard to believe that people are STILL enthralled by their ordinal placement in a set of Internet comments.

  • L

    What about Barbara Bush hanging onto White House balcony in the underwear? What was bizzare

  • MadMonkey

    Michelle Obama touching the Queen….

  • tinkerbell

    Behind every idiot of a president is the mental case that agreed to marry him.

  • Handrejka

    Good list and different. You’ve made me want to read more about some of these which is always a good sign.

  • undaunted warrior

    @astraya (6) Winnie Mandela was still married to Nelson Mandela when he became president in May 1994.

    She was never first lady of SA as the couple had separated 2 years earlier.

    The final divorce was on the 19 th of March 1996.

  • deeeziner

    Am I mistaken, or did Imelda Marcos get busted later in life for stealing the buttons off of women’s clothing in fine boutiques and department stores?

    Nice list, It should be required reading when world leaders select their spouses.

  • yo

    those are some tough ladies

  • Nitroglycerin

    Why accumulate so much–2,700 pairs of shoes,-if there is no use for all of them?

    If Imelda Marcos changed her shoes three times a day, and never wore the same pair twice, it would take her more than two years and five months to work through her shoe supply–as it existed on the day she fled Manila.

    Children often have delusions of omnipotence, and perhaps adult megalomania derives from that, with a sinister admixture of the child’s spirit of play and exhibitionism.

    • YouRang?

      If I read 10 comic books per day, I could get through my collection in about 14 months. That’ll never happen. But I’ve really like having them.

  • Vera Lynn

    The system works. Always in control. Haha.

  • Rufus

    first ladies can be disgraceful in times…

  • didi

    Great list!
    I guess that before voting, one should double check who his/her candidate is married to…

    And just a small correction: Mira Markovic’s full first name is “Mirjana” (pronounced “MIR-yana”), not “Mirajina”.

  • D.O.D

    Jesus, the person who wrote this is judgmental.

  • Shype

    Oh Didi, I too am right-name-puhlease-nazzi and i hardly waited to finish reading so i could comment on that… you serbian by any chance? must be from the balkans at least

  • betterthantheoriginalwally

    According to Imelda, she accumulated about 100 pairs of shoes originally – not uncommon for a woman of means. In the Philippines however her shoes got a lot of airtime. From then on every Juan, Joseph and Haroldo started sending shoes to her from their stores (trying for a bit of publicity). She was reluctant to throw away gifts and kept them in her collection. Later she revealed that she wore very few of the shoes, most were ill-fitting and impractical and that the shoes were merely a celebration of her influence and a symbol of the hardworking cobblers of The Philippines. What to believe?

    Great list by the way – wouldnt have come up with this in a million years.

  • Davy

    Man, some of those are ugly.

  • fggg

    Not really an “action”, but it was none the less bizarre that Japan’s Prime Minister’s wife admitted that she had been abducted by aliens and taken to Venus, among other odd statements.

  • Nitroglycerin

    @betterthantheoriginalwally (22):
    “most were ill-fitting and impractical and that the shoes were merely a celebration of her influence.”

    More like a celebration of tyranny and exravance.

    IMELDIFIC adjective. Ostentatiously extravagant to the point of vulgarity (from Imelda Marcos, shoe collector extraordinaire). Who is known world-wide for having the most shoes in the world.

  • Moloch1123

    @The Lovely Macabre Lolita (4): Even if he had, the Administrators would have removed it. Those sorts of comments aren’t allowed.

  • MommaDuck

    First ladies are a rare breed. They are treated, as are the Presidents, like celebrities. Their private lives are on display all the time. Which comes with the territory. Therefore they have to exercise the utmost discreetness in everything they do, so as not to have anything negative be said about them, that would in turn be negative for the President. It’s true that they know the public aspect the political office brings, which really only stands to show that they are willing to do anything to support their husbands and country.

  • mom424

    What no Maggie Trudeau? Cavorting half naked at Studio 54, boffing Mick Jagger and Ted Kennedy, smuggling weed in the PM’s luggage – she definitely deserves a spot here.

    Although our Maggie is at least nuts on her own account, (seriously, the woman is bi-polar), and didn’t inherit/snag megalomania from her husband. I worked at a fancy golf course for years and the number of women that some how think that they’re special – deserving of deference and kid glove treatment – because of nothing they’ve done. Just because their husbands worked for years to accumulate wealth or power or both. (btw the men that deserved the kudos, never demanded it) Seems to be the same disease that most of these women suffer from.

  • archangel

    Ah the stresses of having husbands busy busy busy running the country. What else could a bored wife do in her sparetime but indulge in some megalomania?

  • Dianne

    As for ‘first lady of stolen buttons’ that was Manuel Noriega’s wife, Felicidad Sieiro de Noriega.

    She and a pal were removing buttons from clothing at a Burdine’s store.

    “The police said the women were arrested after being seen removing buttons valued at $305 from clothing in the store. The women were released after each posted a $1,500 cash bond.”

  • deeeziner

    @Dianne (30):Thank-you for the clarification. :)

  • Carole Lanno

    The husbands were/are far worse!!

    Once again ironic misused and abused #7 is not ironic!!!!!

  • ned

    i have to agree to a previous poster that the least bizarre thing about IMELDA was about her shoes.
    When I saw her documentary she was talking about planets, cosmos etc. and she will illustrate it in drawings and stuff on how everything works and stuff. also, she keeps on focusing on beauty and that everything is about beauty.
    but it’s ok with me.

  • Some Guy in NEPA

    #1 should have been “Hilliary Clinton in three parts: 1.) Acting as the unelected “Health Care Czar”, 2.) Being “the smartest woman in America” but being clueless about Bill’s flagrant fooling around with other women, and 3.) Her “imaginary” conversations with Eleanor Roosevelt’s ghost.

  • Clare

    You seem to imply that Eden’s regisnation was due to his wife’s comment – definately not true. Of course Eden will only ever be remembered for Suez, poor guy.

  • 80s

    I completely don’t understand number 4, at all. I feel uneducated like I should know why it’s bizarre to use apparent hyperbole about the Suez. I looked at the Wiki and can’t see why it’s controversial. Can someone enlighten me?

  • GiantmAN

    To american-centric.

  • flamehorse

    These were good! I’d never heard of a lot of them. Thanks, Dash.

  • lostagent

    Somehow they all have that same look on their faces….

  • Gottfriedx

    Kinda boring List, but heck…

    Next time something more bizar\fun ok? ;)

  • Jacob

    Geez, most of these ladies are very unattractive. If I was president, I’d get a hottie!

  • ChemEngineer

    HAHA number 6 has a quite perfectly timed photo…

  • magdalena

    Elena Ceau?escu

    She headed the State health commission, which denied the existence of AIDS in Romania, leading to one of the largest outbreaks (including pediatric cases) in the western world.

  • Maggot is my bitch

    Compared with what some of those foreign first “Ladies” have done, Nancy Reagan talking to an astrologer is pretty tame.

  • Carlie

    Margaret Trudeau (former wife of late P.E. Trudeau of Canada) smuggled drugs in Pierre’s suitcase, had an affair with Ted Kennedy, and partied with the Rolling Stones.
    It’s no 3k pairs of shoes, but still raises some eyebrows.

  • Jessy

    Ms. Blair looks like a Muppet in that pic….

    Please enlighten me too about why talking about the Suez was a bad thing?

  • Maggot

    @Maggot is my bitch (44): In your dreams, BD.

  • Muse

    Where’s Eva Perone? I figured famous First ladies list would have Eva…

  • Tom Parmenter

    How about Mrs.Woodrow Wilson who took control of the presidency when Woodrow had a stroke 18 months before the end of his term. She blocked the Vice President from taking over.

  • hunter

    In Imelda’s case, it’s not just the quantity that’s absurd, a lot of her shoes were allegedly gifts from world leaders and their spouses and costs tens of thousands of dollars. Some are encrusted with diamonds and gold.

    Oh and she regularly gives hundred dollar bills as tips for bell boys in New York

  • Syndra321

    Imelda doesnt want to be associated with the shoe stuff now, she sold alot of them now. Nevertheless, though she is taking the humbler profile now, she still one of the people in the Philippines you must avoid.

  • suzi

    I agree with 80’s Mrs Eden’s comment doesn’t seem so bad.

    It must be horrible to basically have no private life. To think that anything you do could be splattered all over the TV and tabloids and exaggerated and mocked.

    I expected to see the Tzarina and her association with Rasputin. That would overshadow some of these other items.

  • nice info, thanks

  • jimmynorth

    aha-ha! a very cute photo of the number 6 in thins list.
    thanks for the one more great list!!

  • nuriko

    oh well..

  • Tenebrae

    @mom424 (28):

    You see that kind of thing often in the military, as well. The wives of senior enlisted and officers try to wear their husband’s rank. They demand the respect (some even the salutes!) that their husbands earned. It’s pretty appalling.

    I think it comes from self esteem issues. They don’t see their own value so they hang the entirety of their own self worth on their husband’s status. It’s pathetic and sad, if you think about it.

  • saber25

    Yipee Imelda Marcos is on the list.

    Glad Philippines is on the list. And there was also a stunt taken by Imelda Marcos aside from her shoes, she filed a case against the government who “confiscated” her jewelries after she and Ferdinand Marcos (her husband) fled to Hawaii. Then came another president, whom was CORY AQUINO(the greatest woman president and famous for what they call her, The Woman in Yellow) opened the Malacanyang (the presidents’ palace) she found a trilliokazilthousillion jewelries and, uhurm, her shoes.

    She is really a jerk isn’t she.

    Heh Corrupt head

  • saber25

    Hey and you Americans the west dominaters! I know what were the guidelines of Imelda Marcos!!!!….

  • saber25

    For what to keep a super idiot in suspense on my comment up there(58)?

    Sorry can’t tell what were the guidelines. But I know it I am not lying

  • alex


  • mom424

    @Tenebrae (56): I am an Airforce brat and know exactly what you’re talking about. Ask my mom all about it – waiting and waiting for her prenatal doctor’s appointment as the officer’s wives walked right on in ahead of her. I’m going to assume that there has been some change; this happened well over 40 years ago. Not that my mom ever got over it – she also blames that attitude for her hemmorhage at my brother’s birth. He was basically pulled on out of her with giant forceps because, according to my mom, the military Doctor was in a hurry and she was just anther cow.

  • saber25

    Thanks alex(60) She was sure young at the time

  • GTT

    Dash: great list!! It´s amazing how off-their-rocker some of these women are… It makes you wonder: were they always this crazy or did the crazy flourish once they (or their husbands) came to power?

    PS- the picture for number 6 is priceless….

  • rico

    I agree with 80s. I also was confusd and looked it up on Wikipedia without any luck. Why was that comment about the Suez so bad? I mean, he husband even had to resign because of it?? I’m confused.

  • no 6 on the list— looks like an alien to me

  • sleaterkinney1bt

    i thought this list was poorly written.

  • Pakoy23

    Shoes of Imelda Marcos…where all the pairs goes?

  • Peter

    The one about Blair seems to come from the pulp press. What is a ‘topless model’ ? I guess what is meant a model that on occasion has posed without a bra. So, that means she can’t be a friend or advisor ? Pathetic. You Americans are so scared of sex.
    Rebirthing is a valid therapeutic technique. The picture gives a different impression, that’s why it was chosen I guess, but Cheryl Blair was and is a lawyer, an intelligent and modern woman.

  • Jann

    The Malacanyang was opened as a museum by the “Woman in Yellow” some years ago. Sad I missed it…

  • Lk

    @ Kyle_Hendrick: LOL! :)) I also did!

    @ Jann: Cory Aquino? What about the museum? Some good deed?

    I heard that Imelda’s going thrifty now. She had sold some of her jewelry. I don’t actually have an idea where in the world her shoes would be.

  • MORT

    What a lovely lot..what goes around comes around…

  • Aaaah Imelda Marcos. @[email protected]
    I’m so jealous of her shoes.

  • panamachick

    Felicidad (de) Noriega, the wife of dictator Manuel Noriega does not qualify as a First Lady. Her husband was not a president nor was he elected.

  • That Guy From Pennsylvania

    No mention of Hillary Clinton’s “imaginary conversations” with the ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt? Here’s a link to a report where Clinton’s “spiritual advisor” downplays the incident. Spin, spin, spin!

  • Peter

    @74 Obviously, it’s one or the other. Either imagination or a conservation with a ghost (if that’s possible). Since there is no mention of a ghost, it appears to be the first.
    And wat’s wrong with having imaginary conversations ? Can be very helpful, and if you ever had one you wouldn’t be so quick to put this is the ‘hehehe she believes in ghosts’ category.
    So who’s spinning here ?

  • katerinaelaena

    Wow. Bizarre, for sure! Excuse me but “bitch” doesn’t even seem to cover the description in many of tehse cases… =S

  • ruthgar

    mam imelda s powerful in her times, i appreciate that majestic and magnifying aura that she possesed, any country in this world needs to have as tough, articulate, glamorous and motherly queen of all mother’s treatment like former 1st lady of the philippines imelda marcos should have….. thanks…….

  • shuttlesworth17

    imelda marcos maybe glamorous but her glamour was made at the expense of the filipino people whom she robbed

  • Chk out for tweets & twitter photos from Indian and International celebrities all in one place

  • JoeBlow

    How about Margaret Trudeau, anybody remember her, she´s the one who took on the R. Stones, five on one, or should I say One on Five

  • YouRang?

    A friend of mine sent me a message while traveling overseas and said he had made one part of the journey “via Sues Canal.” My girlfriend at the time was named Sue and I showed it to her. She said something like, “A lot of men have paddled their skiffs up Sue’s Canal, but this lying bastard ain’t one of them.”

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