May 21, 2013

Robert Downey Jr.: Short superstar shattering stereotypes

Robert Downey Jr. is currently the biggest box office star in the world, but he's definitely not the tallest. The good obsessives at CelebHeights peg him at 5'8". That sounds about right. Back when Downey was out of prison and out of work about a dozen years ago, I used to see him at our sons' baseball and soccer games at the local park, and he's not tall at all.* 

These days, Hollywood casts short leading men with leading ladies who are taller than them (e.g., Gwyneth Paltrow with Downey, Nicole Kidman with Tom Cruise).

In general, leading men are not as disproportionately tall as during Golden Age Hollywood (John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper, and Cary Grant were all close to a half foot taller than the average American man of their time). Overall, I'd say that the decline in bias in Hollywood toward tall role models is a good thing. 

Height used to be a pretty good marker of having enjoyed good nurture (e.g, had plenty to eat as a child). The Tory cabinet of prime minister Lord Salisbury in 1895 averaged six feet at a time when that was about a half foot taller than the average British man. From a female husband-hunting perspective, evidence that a man's family provided well for him when he was a child is evidence of a lot of good things. There's no downside to growing up so that you attain close to your genetic maximum of height.

Over time though, the systematic nutritional and health deficits that prevent a youth from a lower class background of attaining the full height of which his genes are capable have diminished. The NBA is full of guys who grew up on welfare. (Although in Downey's case, the kind of heavy drug use from very early age might have knocked an inch off his height.)

So, height is increasingly a measure less of nurture and more of nature. And, as somebody who is 6'4", the genetic advantages and disadvantages of being unusually tall seem like a mixed bag. If people weren't somewhat subjectively biased in favor of tall men like myself, I'd probably say the objective tradeoffs (clumsiness, head-banging, etc.) aren't really worth it. The human body isn't optimized for my height.

So, the continuing prejudice in favor of the tall seems increasingly pointless because it's now mostly a nature difference masquerading as a nurture difference, and there's no terribly good reason to want genes for additional height to be favored. Thus, the fact that Hollywood role models currently come in all heights seems, on the whole, like a good thing.

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* By the way, don't get the impression from this that Downey is some kind of regular guy. I said hello to him and he said hello back, very friendly, but the Charisma Gap was astounding. In a social setting that was blase about minor levels of celebrity -- e.g., the baseball team mom was an Emmy-nominated character actress -- Downey, in disgrace, was the cynosure of all eyes of team parents. Just lounging on the grass watching his kid take infield practice, he's magnetic.

You know those scenes in Iron Man where Tony Stark wakes up from a horrible dream? I suspect Downey's Method Acting technique for this is to tell himself: "Just imagine I had a nightmare that I had to move back to the Valley!"

90 comments:

Anonymous said...

Overall, I'd say that the decline in bias in Hollywood toward tall role models is a good thing.


That's only true for the men though - the female "role models" are freaks among their sex.

anony-mouse said...

'Lord Salisbury in 1895 averaged six feet...'

Hmmm, I doubt his height fluctuated that much in 1 year.

Hope this wasn't a result of a head-banging.

David said...

In Hitchcock's "Notorious," there's a shot where Claude Rains (5' 6"), approaches co-star Ingrid Bergman (6' 0") from a door in the background. It is crystal-clear that he's walking up a hidden ramp. I laugh every time I see this shot.

Reportedly, just before shooting began Hitch said to Rains, "We need to address this problem that you're a midget."

Dave Pinsen said...

"That's only true for the men though - the female "role models" are freaks among their sex."

There are shorter-than-average women in Hollywood too. The average American woman is 5'4". Tom Cruise has been paired with women shorter than that on occasion, e.g., Thandie Newton in Mission Impossible II, who was 5'2".

Anonymous said...

If six foot even was good enough for Manly Wade Wellman's Jesus Christ it's good enough for me.

Anonymous said...

I just feel bad he has to wear those giant shoes, they look a bit silly and cannot be comfortable.

Anonymous said...

As a short man, I think height has suggested more than just better nurturing. Great height in men suggests virility and social dominance, which women find attractive.

This form of attraction is mostly innate and I think it is also an important part of sexual selection among our ape cousins.

Anonymous said...

Are shorter men now better proportioned or something? 5'6'' was very clearly short and awkward looking in the 1940's, but now men around there just look small-normal. But tall men today tend towards awkwardness, in a way the big men of generations ago didn't.

Methinks there are now a lot more "overgrown" people out there, instead of malnourished, so the healthy specimen might actually "lack" an inch or two. Historians are going to have fun with our era.

Education Realist said...

Actually, there were a fair number of short and medium height actors back in the day. The tough-guy actors were all notoriously short--Bogart, Cagney, Robinson, Ladd, Raft--but most of the musical romantic leads--Bing Crosby (top ten star in the 30s and 40s), Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly--were of average height. Spencer Tracy, Frederic March, Montgomery Clift, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, James Dean--all pretty average height.

I think we just remember the tall ones.

Anonymous said...

There are certain body types that tend to "pop" really well on camera, and for men that tends to be massive heads with angular cheekbones on spindly little bodies.

When you see those guys in person, it's always startling how disproportionately big their heads are. Josh Brolin has a positively bison-sized noggin.

Education Realist said...

Also, Ingrid Bergman wasn't 6'. She was 5'9", I think.

Actresses back then were often well above average height. Kate Hepburn was 5'8", Audrey was 5'7", as was Deborah Kerr. Cyd Charisse was basically as tall as the men she danced with.

So I think there was a pretty wide range among both men and women back then, just as now.

Anonymous said...

Kids' sport is a great leveller - another reason for elites to avoid child raising.

Gilbert P.

24AheadDotCom said...

8:30 to 10:00 or so of this shows one way great filmmakers have dealt with height disparities.

dsgntd_plyr said...

Even the Guardian has noticed the absentee Latino voter:

"While Los Angeles has a large Latino community, its doesn't always materialize on election day"
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/21/la-mayor-race-latino-voters-lacking

the gubbler, grandchild of babushka of boom said...

There were lots of 'short' movie stars in the past.

Mickey Rooney, Jimmy Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Alan Ladd, Kirk Douglas, Charles Bronson, Paul Muni, Edward G. Robinson, James Dean, etc.

Montgomery Clift was 5'10, so maybe not 'short', but he looked small.

the gubbler, grandchild of babushka of boom said...

His one great role was what? In ZODIAC?

He's a wasted talent, but he was born into Hollywood and is Jewish to boot, and so he kept on getting second breaks no matter how many times he messed up.

IRON MAN stinks.

the gubbler, grandchild of babushka of boom said...

Boyishness sells better than manliness.

Young boys like it and girls like it too.

Anonymous said...

http://www.reverseshot.com/node

Anonymous said...

It takes more cell divisions to make and maintain a tall person. That's why taller people have a higher risk of cancer. Conversely, it's why the last surviving cast members from the '39 Wizard of Oz movie are Munchkins.

ziel said...

Celebheights - great site!

You know who's really short? Rock musicians. I always assumed Paul McCartney was a bit over 6' - but he claims he and John Lennon were both 5'10.5" - that was probably when he was 20.

Yet on stage with an all-star ensemble, he seems to be taller than everyone else up there. And if you look at the heights of other musicians, they're a bunch of shrimps! I know Mick Fleetwood is 6'6" - but he's a drummer -they don't count.

Steve Sailer said...

"Methinks there are now a lot more "overgrown" people out there"

That's not implausible -- it could be that the human body is optimized for something a little less than the full genetic potential of height, since in the past, most people wouldn't have been living in such a favorable environment.

Anonymous said...

So Bloomberg reads Murray's Real Education and decides to pass the advice along.

In summation he says:
“But I’m more likely to hire the person who spent his or her summer working days, nights, and weekends for an auto-body shop or a construction company in order to pay tuition or help with family bills.”

Maybe...if he's hiring for the mailroom, or if the money you slaved for was for Harvard.

He couldn't let his message stand without the tacked-on modifier. Lets face it, if you decide to stick with plumbing, instead of using it as character signal when applying to work for Mike and his ilk, you'll be left to compete with the immigrants they intend to flood the country with.

I thought I'd be reading a Steve comment on this a minute after I saw it.

ziel said...

When you compare the short guys that commenters have brought up vs. the tall guys - we can throw Gregory Peck and Rock Hudson also among the tall guys - you get the difference in old Hollywood between tall and short.

The short guys were all "tough" - they had short tempers, known for their street smarts - when they were good, they were underdogs - when bad, were conniving little bastards. With women, they had to seduce them. The romantic tension came from the actress's initial repulsion which was overcome by charm.

The Stewarts, Waynes, Pecks, etc. were guileless types whose heroism was organic to their characters. Women simply fell in love with them, and the romantic tension revolved around the heroine's efforts to gain their apathetic hero's attention.

Anonymous said...

Education Realist:"Also, Ingrid Bergman wasn't 6'. She was 5'9", I think. "

Yeah, Celebheights has Bergman at 5'9, not 6'0.

syon

Anonymous said...

Forgive my omission of the "OT" prefix on the Bloomberg comment.

JayMan said...

I'm 6'4" myself. Height is generally nice, but not fitting into places with low headroom is a pain (literally). It's less of a problem now that I don't live in NYC any more. Fortunately, I was just tall enough to clear the doors in the NYC subway cars (which were 6'4").

ziel said...

Errol Flynn and Victor Mature were 6'2" - Basil Rathbone was 6'1" - old Hollywood was clearly biased towards height. I don't think most of the younger commenters have a clue how off-the-charts these heights were in the 30's and 40's.

Anonymous said...

Burt Lancaster looks ridiculous trying to be sneaky in 'The Train'. And his machine gun looks like a toy.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Charisma Gap -

Here in NH, we meet the presidential candidates live every four years. You are spot on. Even the ones I hate when I read about, I find myself sucked under the spell of when I meet them in a living room. You have to consciously fight against it.

I have rooted for candidates who I thought deserved a chance, met them, and then realised they have no chance of becoming president.

ziel said...

I notice that Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd are all over 6' - I bet that helped them establishing some "cred" in their more masculine style of comedy - kind of like Sid Caesar (who isn't listed on the site but was like 6'5")

Anonymous said...

"And, as someone who is 6'4", the genetic advantages and disadvantages of being unusually tall seem like a mixed bag. ...I'd probably say the objective trade-offs are not really worth it.."

Try going through life 5'3" (my height), Mr. Sailer, and you will soon reconsider that evaluation, trust me.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a tall actor, being 6'4" isn't a plus. Most other actors aren't that height, so I present problems for cinematographers.as far as lighting, and camera angles.
Because of me, everyone else may have to stand on a box.
That can annoy people after a couple of months shooting.
If the entire shoe is tall, no prob. "Night Court" was a good example. Almost everyone on the show was stupid tall.
Ain't no way I'd ever appear opposite Tom Cruise, or any other elfin star actor.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little over 6'4" and it's pretty awesome, aside from finding clothes and sporting goods that fit. It's easy to navigate in crowds and you're less likely to get accosted by riff-raff on the street or bars.

I tend not to notice height that much since the natural state of other people is "shorter than me," and I don't see the other category very often.

Whiskey said...

Steve I think you sell height advantages short.

A taller guy (and 6'4" is not REALLY tall, compared to the upper reaches of 6'11" 7 feet), has so many advantages:

*No one will EVER pick fights with him.
*Preference by girls and the BEST girls, i.e. youngest/most beautiful/most intelligent.
*Automatic deference/respect by other men.
*Viewed as natural leader

That they over-ride the problems of cramped quarters in planes, buses, cars, etc.

Yes a guy with lots of Charisma (and yes, Downey is an excellent actor who MADE Iron Man) can overcome it on screen. But how many guys are Robert Downey Jr? One in the world. All the rest would trade height. Damien Lewis is 6'1"; Ashton Kutcher an inch taller; Adam Baldwin 6'4" as you (and seems very well proportioned); Nathan Fillion is 6'2"; David Boreanaz is 6'1". "Chuck" star Zachary Levi is 6'4" as you as well, and hardly seems awkward or gangly.

Assuming that the usual rules apply, that the next generation of stars will come out of TV, as they did with Pitt, Clooney, and Kutcher a generation ago; you will be looking at a bunch of guys your height or just a bit smaller.

If you want a guy with masculine presence and power, that a female audience WANTS then height helps more than anything else. Downey is the charisma exception, but if its between say Nathan Fillion and say, Seth Green, who would you choose as a male lead appealing to women in Castle?

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

I'm 6'2". There are definite advantages to being tall.

The part about rock stars being short IRL is too true. You know who's really short? Michael Anthony, one of the original members of Van Halen. I recently dated a young hottie in Newport Beach who knows him and we'd often see him around the neighbourhood. Really nice guy, but quite short.

Another short dude I see out and about is porn star Peter North. Again, really friendly chap.

Kobe Bryant, on the other hand, is pretty tall. It's bloody embarrassing watching grown White men standing around at my local Starbucks gazing up at him as if he's some god.

Corn said...

Just a couple tales: In the mid-'70s when my folks were dating, Dad took Mom to the Indy 500. While there my mom accidentally bumped into Paul Newman. My 5'8" mom said that Newman was a wee bit shorter than her. I don't know if she was wearing heels or not. In the mid '80s mom and dad took my 5 year old self to the Indy 500 time trials. My 6'2" dad saw David Hasselhoff and remarked he was "a little guy".
Granted these are just a couple anecdotal encounters but this led me to the impression that most actors are average or a bit shorter than average height-wise.

"*No one will EVER pick fights with him."

Somewhat right Whiskey. Just somewhat. Ever hear of the Napoleon or Little Man Syndrome? Yes, many, probably most folks would leave a taller guy alone, but you will also have guys picking fights to show they can knock down the tall tree. If tall = alpha dominance, then tall guys will have to fight off budding alphas.

Auntie Analogue said...


"Bless them all.
Bless them all,
The Long and the Shirt and the Tall..."

Harry Baldwin said...

You know those scenes in Iron Man where Tony Stark wakes up from a horrible dream? I suspect Downey's Method Acting technique for this is to tell himself: "I had a nightmare that I had to move back to the Valley!"

Or maybe this : "Mr. Downey, who has said that he woke up in a pool of his own blood a time or two when he was in prison. . . "

Downey was always a good actor, but I wonder if the fact that he's been through some hard times gives him some depth that most of the other leading men don't have. Most of them don't look like they've had a bad day in their lives.

A previous commentor noted the trend toward boyishness over manliness. That's definitely true. I try to picture which A-list actors Peckinpah would cast in "The Wild Bunch" today and can only come up with a few. Actors that had been through the military had a different quality to them.

BTW, I don't think of 5'8" as short in a man who has a strong personality and is physically fit. It's only when you get below 5'5" that a man is noticeably short.

Auntie Analogue said...


Crap! "Shirt" was supposed to be "Short."

Goddamn bifocals are the bane of peering at the monitor.

Anonymous said...

Steve's a modest guy so he doesn't like to mention this, but he's the father of Michelle Monagan's second baby (Brady's the father of the first) so I've got to agree the Whiskey is totally right to chalk up his failure with girls to his tiny frame. Also when I think leadership I definitely think of the guy whose message boards are made up of 50% anon posters.



At this point Steve's got to mention his height only to elicit the whiny Steve height is amazing post from Whiskey.

Yes I know it's the chick from Lord of War who Tom Brady knocked up but Steve can't tell them apart and Monagan was in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with Downey so

Anonymous said...

"The tough-guy actors were all notoriously short"

John Wayne not a tough guy? Gary Cooper? You could be right in that the "short man syndrome" aka "Napoleon complex" is something found in short guys, which might be more of what you are getting at. Big guys can afford to be less overtly aggressive because they encounter less resistance in general.

as said...

Height in a man is intrinsically attractive.

I find the rangy physique to be very attractive.

Also, tall men don't seem to be as mean.



Anonymous said...

"It takes more cell divisions to make and maintain a tall person. That's why taller people have a higher risk of cancer."

If that's true (and it seems logical) then whales or elephants will be dying at high rates of cancer unless there is some other mechanism that counters the effect. It seems I'm not the first to notice this.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2011/02/28/the-mere-existence-of-whales/

Anonymous said...

That's not implausible -- it could be that the human body is optimized for something a little less than the full genetic potential of height, since in the past, most people wouldn't have been living in such a favorable environment.

I think residual growth hormone and steroids in our meat and dairy products also have an effect. Children tend to reach puberty earlier and develop bigger than past generations.

As far as being tall, I used to be mildly bothered by having to see every bald spot of the people around me.

Anonymous said...

"Somewhat right Whiskey. Just somewhat. Ever hear of the Napoleon or Little Man Syndrome? Yes, many, probably most folks would leave a taller guy alone, but you will also have guys picking fights to show they can knock down the tall tree. If tall = alpha dominance, then tall guys will have to fight off budding alphas."


I don't know about this.

The most aggressive men I've met in my life were all my height (I'm 6"1) or usually a smidged taller.

I've seen your observation but very rarely do the most aggressive guys fit that profile.

Also, think about presidents. Clinton, Obama, Reagan, FDR. The most successful ones tend to be over 6" tall.

The short Richard Nixon was certainly very brilliant, but his insecurities made his downfall. The tall guys have no such qualms about their place in power. That natural confidence shouldn't be underestimated.

Also, 'budding alphas' is something you have to fight as an alpha male no matter what their height. And the most potent challengers tend to be of the same height.

Also, I've read that height corresponds to higher intelligence. Taller men tend to be brighter, although there are of course tons of exceptions to this rule, remember we're talking about average differences. Just like East Asians tend to have a higher IQ than whites do on average, you can find tons of smart whites who are smarter than the average East Asian you still need to take into account the higher-IQ on average for East Asians.

And you might think, now, aha! But East Asians are shorter! True, but I'm talking about height within their genetic context. Thus, taller East Asians tend to be smarter than their shorter compatriots. Taller blacks tend to be smarter than their shorter equivalents. And so on.

Race still trumps height any day, but within context, height is an indication of intelligent(although the correlation is quite weak, but there is one).
I think it was Rushton who found this evidence. He also found evidence of larger brains = higher IQ, which is a similar story. (East Asians tend to have a higher brain volume, which explains their slightly higher IQ).

But as for personality wise, I personally find it more interesting with shorter guys who fight the natural preferences of women. Just like a chubby guy winning over supermodels is much more interesting for all of us, because it speaks to his inner power. (Even though I think a chubby guy doing that is having a lot harder time than someone who's merely short).

Anonymous said...

This is all kind of silly, the bragging about how cool it is to be tall among the commentators here. (And yes, I'm 5'10" average as can be.)

Between the ages of 13-22ish, height means everything to a young man. After that, it means nothing. You're either a loser going nowhere or someone on track.

I'd like to see the average heights of the Scots-Irish on the Forbes 500 or the heights of Bill Gates and Warren Buffent, etc., people who matter and are changing the world (for good or bad).

Politically, I'm sure height matters a lot for success, but most of these politicians are such practiced whores I really don't know that it counts for much. Being a practiced whore is nice for the pay, but in the long run . . .

Anonymous said...

I'm 6'5", and I agree with Steve: it'd be better to be shorter. 6'2" seems to me the best balance of being 'tall' without starting to rack up the disadvantages (i.e. awkwardness, finding clothes, hitting one's head, being seriously uncomfortable on planes, etc.).

Also, I concur with anon above who mentioned head size and being on camera. I noticed this when I was a kid, and one of the local TV news anchors came to speak to our school. He looked big and commanding -- and perfectly normally proportioned -- on TV, but in person he was about 5'6" at most, but with an absolute melon on his shoulders. It was almost shocking.

I've got the opposite problem: large body, smallish noggin, so when I've been filmed, I looked like a total pinhead.

Steve Sailer said...

"Steve's a modest guy ..."

Ixnay on the second kid stuff. We don't want Brady to start wondering why whenever he tries to give the first kid a football, he never wants to throw it, he only wants to talk about how the Passer Rating statistic is surprisingly underrated.

DR said...

Whiskey's right. If you're tall people automatically defer to you. Especially if you have decent musculature, avoiding the awkward lanky look.

That's why 6'2" Schwarzenegger could not only get elected governor of California as a Republican, but have most of liberal Hollywood support him. All while barely speaking English.

Downey may have a lot of natural charisma, but if he was in a room with Dolph Lundgren people would naturally gravitate towards the latter.

Anonymous said...

The other interesting thing about height is why the hybrid-European American has stalled so badly compared to the less mixed Europeans on the continent. It's astonishing that some of these people (the Dutch, for example) are averaging over 6 foot.

Anonymous said...

Even 6'0" tall is enough height that riff raff largely don't mess with you, especially if you are above average in terms of build. It does make sense from an evolutionary perspective - this is the point at which 1 punch KOs start becoming a likelihood. If you watch MMA, LHW and HW are the divisions in which the fights often end quickly from KOs.

Of course, you don't want to pick fights with 5'8" and above really solid guys (like 200lbs plus). Mark Hunt is 5'10" and a good example of the danger they can pose.

I'm 6', 210 - it's not never, but very few people have tried to start a fight with me as an adult. It's a completely different experience from growing up as a late grower a couple standard deviations on the wrong side of the height bell curve.

Anonymous said...

If that's true (and it seems logical) then whales or elephants will be dying at high rates of cancer unless there is some other mechanism that counters the effect. It seems I'm not the first to notice this.

Cancer rates are highest in the developed world. I suppose we're exposed to more toxins. But more importantly, due to medical advances, we live longer and paradoxically allow cancers to more easily form due to our old age.

In the animal world, I believe household pets contract cancer at higher rates than wild animals for the same reasons.

Just my own theories...

Anonymous said...

There are shorter-than-average women in Hollywood too.

Not many though. They also tend not to be shaped like normal women.

Harry Baldwin said...

DR said...Downey may have a lot of natural charisma, but if he was in a room with Dolph Lundgren people would naturally gravitate towards the latter.

I guess it would depend on whether you were looking for someone to chat with or someone to back you up in a brawl.

jody said...

steve is underselling the utility of height for men. i'm 6-1 and it helps, a lot, in every way. and i'd like to be taller.

maybe he's getting up towards the height where the disadvantages are starting to pull even with the advantages but 99% of men would rather be 6-4 than 5-4. all midgets would trade places with him.

maybe some economist should do a "diminishing marginal utility of height" equation for men. in inches, of course, we don't need no funny metric figures round these parts.

to be honest all my friends over 6-3 take the same position as steve. for stuff outside of sports, it's really not that great to be this tall. 6-2 would be better. this is the only scenario in which men will actually desire to lose inches. nyuk nyuk nyuk.

Kaz said...

@Anonymous @ 9:40PM

Cancer rates are highest in developed countries because people in developed countries

1) Have the technology to detect cancer

2) Live long enough to actually get cancer

Anonymous said...

Aside from being an actor I've admired for almost 30 years now, it can be overstated the character it took for him to publicly support, defend, and even compliment Mel Gibson after Gibson's jew-gate scandal. (Kudos to Jodi Foster, too, btw)

Anonymous said...

The real question is would you rather be 8 inches taller or 8 inches shorter? I realize it largely depends on one's height, but considering several commented 6'2" as being ideal, what's better, 5'4 or 6'10?

Anonymous said...

dictators and autocrats tend to be short: napper, musso, stal, deng, putin.
Perot had dictatorial style.

Anonymous said...

DR said...
"That's why 6'2" Schwarzenegger could not only get elected governor of California"

Arnold is 5'11".

Anonymous said...

I'm the 6'5" commenter from above.

Good question, i.e. whether it's better to be 5'4" or 6'10". I'd take the short road, frankly. Any 'alpha'/leadership/deference-inducing advantages height confers are irrelevant if you're 6'10" -- it's simply too far outside the norm for people to view you as anything other than 'freakishly tall'. You're reduced to an attribute, not to mention the purely logistical problems, which would be legion.

The only way I'd choose 6'10" would be if I were guaranteed playing time in the NBA, full stop. Even if I could play in college and/or some other, lesser, professional league, I wouldn't take it.

My brother had a friend in school who's 6'11", not much of an athlete, and I do not envy him one bit for that height.

But I would not trade 6'5" for 5'4", surely. I'd say it's at about 6'8" or 6'9" that really tall men tip into the next category, i.e. gawking-bait.

Dr Van Nostrand said...

As a short guy I will say it is how you carry yourself and your face,voice and clothing matters a great deal.

Also too many short guys overcompensate at the gym and look quite ridiculous.

I work out but not THAT much else and never touch steroids(which too many of these short guys ingest)


If you are proportional,well scrubbed and groomed,articulate with a deep voice(can be achieved), it overcome pretty much all the drawbacks of being short.

Height helps to put you on a shortlist as leaders(its why the presidential campaigns Giuliani and Newt were lost causes from the getgo), but its not everything.I dont think of myself a leader(though I was asked to be some occasions) ,neither am I a follower.Just want to be left alone!

Coming back to Robert Downey, my sisters are still in love with him since they were teenagers for that silly romcom he did with Sorvino in the 90s set in Italy.
Truth be told ,he was a looker back then.
That weird Johnny Depp get up he has these days isnt working for him.

Dr Van Nostrand said...


DR said...Downey may have a lot of natural charisma, but if he was in a room with Dolph Lundgren people would naturally gravitate towards the latter."

Ludgren has a masters degree in chemical engineering. He recieved a Fulbright scholarship for further studies in MIT ,Boston. But he ditched to be a bodyguard for Grace Jones.

So geeks would may have common interests with him as well.

Dr Van Nostrand said...


The other interesting thing about height is why the hybrid-European American has stalled so badly compared to the less mixed Europeans on the continent. It's astonishing that some of these people (the Dutch, for example) are averaging over 6 foot."

This is a recent phenomena probably due to the healthier diet of Northern Europeans.

During the late 1700s, English travellers to the Americas often why they were agitated about oppression from Britain since they observed continental Americans making more money, paying less taxes,eating better food,had a better climate,lived in nicer house and were TALLER than the native Brits or Europeans.

But then again the Dutch are genetically tall people. Even their descendents -the Boers are collosal.

The Dutch may have been the earliest north European immigrants to Americas but they are not as well represented demographically as much as the Brits(Welsh and Scots are often quite small), Irish or Germans.
Otoh you have quite a few Italians and Spaniards ,not the tallest people out there

Anonymous said...

The dutch had definite selection pressures to be tall (less drowning :) ).

Height does have advantages (I'm 6'5"), but I think I'd rather be an inch or two shorter. For improved comfort in beds, cars and air travel, less head wounds from doorways and stupidly designed stairwells that in some cases I have to back down(antiquated England).

Then there are the health downsides of a bigger body, more cells, more cancer, longer blood circulation paths higher pressure differentials and more strain on heart. Also greater chance of injury in falls.

But taller generally also on average means smarter (bigger brain) - I was only 4th tallest in my 80 person engineering class, and most were above 6 foot. Whereas at high school I was in top 2 or 3 out of 1500.

Women are attracted to it for sure, but you are also far more likely to get attacked (personally 4 times in my life) by random strangers looking to prove something.

Anonymous said...

Not only are shorter men cast as leading man types, but also these days the tallest actors seem to be shunted off into comedy. Physically imposing specimens like Vince Vaughan and Will Ferrell (6'5" and 6'4", respectively) have only succeeded by developing goofball personas. Vaughan in particular originally played his hand as dramatic actor, as his career quickly stalled.

Dave Pinsen said...

"I'm 6', 210 - it's not never, but very few people have tried to start a fight with me as an adult."

Same here, and I'm 5'9", 260lbs (want to bring that weight down eventually, but realistically, getting under 220lbs would be tough for me). If Whiskey is getting threatened a lot maybe he is commenting from a Mexico City prison or something.

Re being 6'4", Steve mentions clumsiness as a downside. I've had a couple of good friends who were 6'4"-6'5" and neither was particularly clumsy, though neither was terribly athletic either (neither played basketball in high school - one swam, and the other ran cross country). I don't think either would steal the limelight from Iron Man walking into a room, or necessarily be seen as a natural leader, but one of them used his height to good effect in dating by going after unusually tall girls.

Mr. Anon said...

I understand that Tom Cruise is actually only four feet tall.

Anonymous said...

I have been 15 feet away from Robert Plant before and was utterly shocked by how big his head was. BTW you have never really lived until you've been that close to him in a small club as he belted out Whole Lotta Love with a great backup band behind him. As I did about 7 years ago.

MDR

Anonymous said...

manlet chart

http://i.imgur.com/ZOH0T.jpg

Anonymous said...

manlet chart explained

http://i.imgur.com/FSTnwgT.jpg

europeasant said...

A few commenters mentioned fighting. In this day and age especially with conceal and carry laws in all states except Illinois, starting fights is not a good idea.
Remember that God made men unequal but Colt makes men equal.
Also remember Zimmerman was about 5'9" inches while Trayvon was maybe 6'2". Who came out on top?

Anonymous said...

Strangely enough, years ago I was once invited to a far right skinhead concert. The one thing that was immediately noticeable was how tall and well built on average the members of that subculture were. I'm not sure what to deduce from that exactly, but there it is.

I saw news on a particular study recently linking muscularity and conservative views, and it made me think again of that observation.

http://www.salon.com/2013/05/16/study_muscle_men_more_politically_conservative_than_others/

Perhaps within every ethnicity or tribe there is a natural contingent suited to the job of protecting the other members of the group from outsiders. Kind of like the way fighter ants are spawned. These are the sort of people with an outlook and build suited to war. My guess is that these are the people who detect a threat and would do something about it if they weren't constrained by the law and other forces. If they perceived the military to actually fight for the country, they'd probably have just joined the military as was done by such folks in years past.

I also note that it has been observed that paranoids are typically of a muscular, athletic build. This is not to say that paranoid = crazy. Just to say that it's the paranoid types (those who evaluate possible threats most comprehensively) who will notice an insidious threat first. In some ways, a healthy paranoia is what is required to win both sports and war. The successful general often attacks from a place few people would even consider, and find a way to make it work. Other successful generals anticipate such "craziness". Failure in war often comes down to not being paranoid enough. Witness the Germans not being paranoid enough about their codes being cracked, despite one of their best generals believing so (and being ignored). And the French placing all their trust in the Maginot line when they should have been more paranoid.

pat said...

I thought I was the only one who read Celebrity Heights. I seldom mention it because I consider it to be a bit shameful - it is so low brow. It's what they call a 'guilty pleasure'. And remember I'm not all that sensitive about my BDSM.

Downey is a source of much amusement because he wears such big lifts so badly. Al Pacino too. Celebrity Heights is sponsored by elevator shoe companies. He looks silly wobbling around in his platform boots on the red carpet desperately trying not to be dwarfed by Paltrow. She responds by wearing heels. It's a battle of the sexes fought with footwear.

But shortness among Hollywood male movie stars is nothing new. Alan Ladd of course provided employment for generations of ditch diggers for his leading ladies to walk in.

The reason has to do with Algometry and Neoteny. My little King Charles has an irresistibly cute face that no Great Dane could possibly match. He looks like a baby. Get big enough and you have a face like Richard Kiel.

Little men like Jose Carreras are not handsome but pretty. They look good in close up but are less impressive in a crowd on stage. In the movies this isn't a problem. They can appear tall though 'movie magic'.

Also you forget Jimmy Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. Today their roles would be cast with stars like Clint Eastwood or Liam Neesom - both of whom are about 6'4". Cagney was defiantly short - no lifts for him.

The biggest lifts I've ever seen on screen are on Gosta Winbergh in the film of Mithridate Re di Ponto. Yet I'd seen him twice on stage and never suspected. Some little men are better than others wearing those things.

Albertosaurus


Dr Van Nostrand said...

Actually, there were a fair number of short and medium height actors back in the day. The tough-guy actors were all notoriously short--Bogart, Cagney, Robinson, Ladd, Raft--but most of the musical romantic leads--Bing Crosby (top ten star in the 30s and 40s), Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly--were of average height. Spencer Tracy, Frederic March, Montgomery Clift, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, James Dean--all pretty average height.

I think we just remember the tall ones."

Dont forget Audie Murphy -5'4", the highest decorated soldier in WWII.

If that is a Napolean complex then hook me up with some of that

Actually Napolean being short is a myth probably propagated by Wellingtons PR team. He was 5'8" ,above average for a Frenchman(or Corsican) of that era.

Whitehall said...

I was surprised while watching the latest iteration of "The Great Gatsby" when the narrator, Nicky, was shown with the lady golfer, BFF of Daisy. She was several inches taller than he.

Of course, Nicky had the wimp role of author/observer, which is anything but a dominant male role and she was supposed to be quasi-lesbian as a lady golf pro.

I'm 6'1" and can see an advantage to being an inch or so taller but already see disadvantages of height.

Growing up in a navy town with lots of flight students, the flight cadets tended to be shorter than average men, better to fit into their fighting machines (shared with tankers I understand).

Apparently, that didn't seem to hurt the budding pilots in the sexual marketplace.

Corn said...

I went over to CelebrityHeights since Steve and Albertosaurus were talking about it. The celebrity pics are hilarious. They are posing with this guy and most seem pleasant enough with a few looking drunk or hungover.

Truth is a social construct said...

The size of the head on some actors can be quite the jolt when seen in person. Two I've had the experience to be surprised by-

Robert Redford;
short legs & *large* cranium.

Remember "Our Miss Brooks"?
Eve Arden had one of the largest heads I've seen on a woman.
Loved her, but hey, the lady had
a big block. Guess the cinematographers are the under sung heroes of Hollywood.

Anonymous said...

"Also, I've read that height corresponds to higher intelligence. "


I've yet to read a study linking height and intelligence that controlled for sex and race.

If sex isn't controlled for, the correlation is obviously void.

The racial makeup of the sample set is also important, hispanics tend to be both dumb and short and could easily skew the short. Also could work the other way if lots of smart, short asians were in the mix.

Dr Van Nostrand said...


Strangely enough, years ago I was once invited to a far right skinhead concert. The one thing that was immediately noticeable was how tall and well built on average the members of that subculture were. I'm not sure what to deduce from that exactly, but there it is."

You can deduce this- they are neo Nazis. Descendents of an ideology that qualified members on basis of physical appearance and ability.




I also note that it has been observed that paranoids are typically of a muscular, athletic build. "

Observed by who? By yourself. You will pardon if so far I am not impressed so much by your observations or deductions. Please present this study with these observations.


This is not to say that paranoid = crazy. Just to say that it's the paranoid types (those who evaluate possible threats most comprehensively) who will notice an insidious threat first."

That is simply a matter of a broken clock.


In some ways, a healthy paranoia is what is required to win both sports and war. The successful general often attacks from a place few people would even consider, and find a way to make it work. Other successful generals anticipate such "craziness". Failure in war often comes down to not being paranoid enough. "

That would be news to Hitlers generals who thought his obsession with Jews was hampering the war effort or his megalomania and paranoia compelled his foolish invasion of Soviet Union.



Witness the Germans not being paranoid enough about their codes being cracked, despite one of their best generals believing so (and being ignored). And the French placing all their trust in the Maginot line when they should have been more paranoid."

You are confusing paranoia with a realistic geo politick.
Maginot line and Enigma were lapses in judgement that can happen to the even the best militaries and they did.

Jake said...

The status is hierarchy is as follow:

1. Tall and mildly muscular

2. Tall and super muscular

3. Tall and scrawny

4. Short and scrawny (boyish look)

5. Tall and fat

6. Short and muscular

7. Short and fat

8. Short and super muscular

Jake said...

[i]There are certain body types that tend to "pop" really well on camera, and for men that tends to be massive heads with angular cheekbones on spindly little bodies.

When you see those guys in person, it's always startling how disproportionately big their heads are[/i]

This sounds like nonsense to me.

Anonymous said...

You can deduce this- they are neo Nazis. Descendents of an ideology that qualified members on basis of physical appearance and ability.

But is the deduction valid? I highly doubt that these kids are descendants of Neo-Nazis. Just rebellious young men for the most part. There is some sense to what you say, but it seems like it would be difficult to get so many such people together in the one place.

Observed by who? By yourself. You will pardon if so far I am not impressed so much by your observations or deductions. Please present this study with these observations.

Google Kretschmer (and maybe Robert Ressler who references his work).

"Kretschmer's study of 10000 patients in mental hospitals indicated that 85% of patients suffering with paranoia had athletic body types"

That is simply a matter of a broken clock.

That's not it. They've organised their lives around a reaction to Frankfurt School PC, and Marxism, not anything else. This is the same thing that the rest of the alt-right is fighting, only without a common hair cut as a common denominator. And they were doing it long before the rest of us. Sure, they go about it in a militant and ineffective way. And they think they have no common cause with Jews, which I think is wrong in the 2010+ era.

That would be news to Hitlers generals who thought his obsession with Jews was hampering the war effort or his megalomania and paranoia compelled his foolish invasion of Soviet Union.

Hitler was right in a lot of his early decisions when he was overruling his generals. FWIW.

You are confusing paranoia with a realistic geo politick.
Maginot line and Enigma were lapses in judgement that can happen to the even the best militaries and they did.


Lapses in judgement they were. Almost certainly there were people in both militaries who raised the idea that there were flaws to be exploited by the enemy, but they were ignored. It is this element of supposed "paranoia" I am referring to.

Dr Van Nostrand said...


DVN:You can deduce this- they are neo Nazis. Descendents of an ideology that qualified members on basis of physical appearance and ability.

But is the deduction valid? I highly doubt that these kids are descendants of Neo-Nazis. Just rebellious young men for the most part. There is some sense to what you say, but it seems like it would be difficult to get so many such people together in the one place."

DVN: I never said they are the physical descendents of Nazis ,just that they hail from that culture that preselects for a peculiar body type.

DVN: Observed by who? By yourself. You will pardon if so far I am not impressed so much by your observations or deductions. Please present this study with these observations.

Google Kretschmer (and maybe Robert Ressler who references his work).


"Kretschmer's study of 10000 patients in mental hospitals indicated that 85% of patients suffering with paranoia had athletic body types"


DVN: Well you showed me. Ill shut up about this matter.

That is simply a matter of a broken clock.

DVN: That's not it. They've organised their lives around a reaction to Frankfurt School PC, and Marxism, not anything else. This is the same thing that the rest of the alt-right is fighting, only without a common hair cut as a common denominator. And they were doing it long before the rest of us. Sure, they go about it in a militant and ineffective way. And they think they have no common cause with Jews, which I think is wrong in the 2010+ era.

DVN: I agree with their traditionalist view points but of course disagree with their end goal which admittedly from all the neo nazi sites I have do not really espouse genocide but expulsion and segregation.
I hate to give advice to the enemy but they have to take a page out of the lefts book and infiltrate the universities,media and entertainment under the "Respectable" facade.I cant see any other way.

DVN:That would be news to Hitlers generals who thought his obsession with Jews was hampering the war effort or his megalomania and paranoia compelled his foolish invasion of Soviet Union.

Hitler was right in a lot of his early decisions when he was overruling his generals. FWIW.

DVN: No one is denying Hitler credit in reviving the German military machine. And yes his generals were rather timid after the experience of WWI.
However the operative term is "early decision" , paranoia and megalomania tend to manifest with increasing power as was the case in the middle to later stages.

DVN:You are confusing paranoia with a realistic geo politick.
Maginot line and Enigma were lapses in judgement that can happen to the even the best militaries and they did.

Lapses in judgement they were. Almost certainly there were people in both militaries who raised the idea that there were flaws to be exploited by the enemy, but they were ignored. It is this element of supposed "paranoia" I am referring to.

DVN: I am not sure it is paranoia but a lack of foresight.
Of course a paranoid person would see attacks emanating from everywhere and chances are he is right perhaps 2% of the time such as in the case of Engima. One cannot take action based such an the advice of such an analyst.
Again my argument is yes paranoids can be right and just because you are paranoid it doesn't mean someone is out to get you. However paranoid people have a boy who cried wolf quality which compels others to tune them out even when they are right.
It is only in hindsight that they are considered Cassandras.

Orion said...

Regarding height, at 5'5.5" on simple height assessment I wouldn't be much of a threat. I've always been easy going, so not sure of most guys my height get picked on a lot. The last guy that I fought (when I was a youth) started the fight... at at least 6'4" he was very fortunate I hadn't gotten really mad yet when his friends pulled him off of me. When I say off, I mean because I had him lifted in the air on my back and could have hurt him badly had I been so disposed. Never mess with a short guy that has shoulders wider than yours... at least don't let him come to grips.

Education Realist said...

John Wayne and Gary Cooper were not the "tough guy" actors. Not a gangster film between the two of them. Both were tough, of course, but I was referring to a specific sub-type.

My son is 6'5" and utterly massive with it. He is perfectly happy being that height, sees it as a mild feature, but not a must-have. I'm not sure if it's because he has always been big, so had a lot of time to get used to it.

Anonymous said...

If I had to re-engineer humanity, I would give everyone a fixed height of about 5'5". You can do anything at that height, you would consume less calories, not to mention occupy less space overall. It would facilitate mate selection, since the height factor would become null.

Sports for "tall" people like basketball would just have to be readjusted accordingly.

And so on.

meo fio said...

You think Lord Salisbury was really 6 feet tall?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4b/Li_Hung_Chang%2C_Lord_Salisbury%2C_Lord_Curzon.jpg

meo fio said...

You think Lord Salisbury was really 6 feet tall?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4b/Li_Hung_Chang%2C_Lord_Salisbury%2C_Lord_Curzon.jpg

Steve Sailer said...

Barbara Tuchman says PM Salisbury was 6'4" in his youth on p. 5 of "The Proud Tower."

http://www.amazon.com/Proud-Tower-Portrait-Before-1890-1914/dp/0345405013

She also says twice in the paragraph that he was stoop-shouldered.

I don't know how tall Lord Curzon was but he had a daughter, Mary, who was 6 feet tall. Okay, a completely unreliable looking item in Google Books says Lord Curzon is 6'1," which sounds plausible.

My name is George Nathaniel Curzon,
I am a most superior person.