Dis­parate Mea­sures: The Height Re­port

The Washington Post Sunday - - The Reliable Source - By Amy Ar­getsinger and Rox­anne Roberts

Celebri­ties come in two ba­sic fla­vors: Shorter Than You Ex­pect, and Taller Than You Ex­pect. It’s the first thing tip­sters men­tion when they call us with ex­cited news of the VIP they’ve just seen in the flesh. Hol­ly­wood peo­ple are gen­er­ally Shorter Than You Ex­pect — star­tlingly so. The pro­to­types: Paul New­man and Tom Cruise, whose blue eyes or big teeth go un­men­tioned by those who’ve had up-close-and-per­son­als, so taken aback are they by the slightly sub-av­er­age statures.

Why is that, and what did we ex­pect, any­way? When we’re used to see­ing some­one on TV or in the movies — and they al­ways fill up that screen, don’t they? — it skews our per­spec­tive. Some aren’t ac­tu­ally that short in real life, at least ac­cord­ing to the tape mea­sure, but their su­per-lean physiques am­plify the im­pres­sion that they’re dainty lit­tle things. Or we just ex­pect so much more from them: A col­league saw Sean Con­nery walk­ing down the street last week be­fore an ap­pear­ance at a Na­tional Mu­seum of Women in the Arts gala. “Shorter than I ex­pected!” she gasped. By most ac­counts, he’s 6-2 — not short by any stan­dard out­side the NBA. “But in ‘High­lander’ he looked 6-6!”

Yet we’re of­ten sur­prised that other folks — politi­cians, es­pe­cially — are Taller Than You Ex­pect, per­haps be­cause of their de­ter­mi­na­tion to present them­selves as, well, down-to-earth. Some celebs are Taller Than You Ex­pect sim­ply be­cause you’re so ac­cus­tomed to the fake-out that you ex­pect them to be Shorter Than You Ex­pect, e.g., Heather Gra­ham, who at a Creative Coali­tion re­cep­tion in Jan­uary sim­ply wasn’t as mi­nus­cule as most red-car­pet gals. As for D.C.’s cur­rent celeb-in-res­i­dence, Ni­co­las Cage, some say he’s taller than ex­pected, oth­ers say he’s shorter, and his of­fi­cial IMDB bio says he’s 6 feet 3⁄ inch tall—

4 but who’s count­ing?

PHOTO IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY NANCY PALM — THE WASH­ING­TON POST

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