Happy 40th Birthday, Chelsea Clinton! See How the Former First Daughter Has Grown Up Through the Years


Chelsea Clinton entered the world in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Feb. 27, 1980. According to the New York Times, her name was inspired in part by the Judy Collins song, “Chelsea Morning.”

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The world first met Chelsea when Bill Clinton took office as the 42nd President in 1993. Then a shy, studious 12-year-old, Chelsea remained fiercely close to her dad and mom, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In a 2001 interview, Bill proudly told the New York Times that his daughter “has her mother’s character and her father’s energy.”

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At the 1992 Democratic National Convention, Chelsea was all sorts of excited — and who wouldn’t be? Her father had officially become the Democratic nominee for president.

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Though she was only 12 years old and couldn’t yet cast a ballot of her own, Chelsea accompanied her dad to the voting booth in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Chelsea stood with her parents after her father was sworn in as the 42nd President of the United States.

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Being a member of the First Family isn’t all work and no play. In 1994, Chelsea took in an Arkansas Razorbacks basketball game with her parents.

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Chelsea accompanied her parents on many of their visits abroad, including this one to India and South Asia with her mother in 1995.

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An earlier milestone: It was not without sadness that Bill and Hillary celebrated Chelsea’s high school graduation from Sidwell Friends (described as the “Harvard of Washington’s private schools,” and where First Daughters Malia and Sasha Obama attended). During his address to her class, the president said, “A part of us longs to hold you once more.”

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Childhood pals, fellow Stanford alums and future husband and wife, Marc Mezvinsky and Chelsea (here, attending a football game on Hilton Head, South Carolina, in 1996) have plenty in common – including family politics. His parents, former Rep. Ed Mezvinsky (D-Iowa) and former Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (D-Pennsylvania), are longtime pals of the Clintons. “They had that connection,” a friend of the couple told PEOPLE in 2009. “When not-such-great things were happening in [Chelsea’s] life, he was the protector.”

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Chelsea, who is a chairperson on the board of the School of American Ballet (and attended its winter ball in 2007, right), studied dance at the Washington School of Ballet – and even appeared in the school’s 1996 production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker at age 16.

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With her parents looking on, a jubilant Chelsea celebrated her graduation day with Stanford’s class of 2001 on June 17. Earning a bachelor’s degree in history, Chelsea wrote her 150-page thesis on the Northern Ireland peace process, for which she interviewed the former President, her dad Bill.

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That wasn’t the end of academia for Chelsea, who followed in Bill’s footsteps and enrolled at Oxford University the following fall. She went on to earn a master’s degree in international relations before joining the N.Y.C. consulting firm McKinsey & Company, becoming the youngest person hired in her class.

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Chelsea and then-boyfriend Ian Klaus, a Rhodes Scholar whom she met at Oxford, became fixtures on the London-New York social scene. Though the two broke up in September 2005 after three years, Klaus told the New York Observer in 2007 that he and his ex were still good friends. In fact, the dedication of his first book, Elvis Is Titantic, reads, “To my mother and Chelsea, for understanding.”

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A month before turning 22 on Feb. 27, Chelsea looked at ease – alongside Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna – at a 2002 Versace show in Paris. Between whispers with her front-row pals, she exclaimed “wow” as models sashayed down the runway. But it was the former First Daughter – debuting a sleek new bob, smoky eye makeup and a chic Versace pantsuit – who sparked that reaction from the fashion in-crowd.

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Chelsea and Mezvinsky, seen here in 2006 in N.Y.C., went public with their romance in fall 2005. “They’re best friends who fell in love,” a friend told PEOPLE of the couple. Described as being “goofy and laidback,” another source close to the pair added that Mezvinksy is “good for her.”

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Chelsea got a rare break while campaigning for Hillary during the Democratic presidential primary – to attend the Kentucky Derby. The then-28-year-old, who took a leave from her job at a Manhattan hedge fund in 2008 to stump for her mom, put in 10-hour days and visited more than 100 college campuses to reach young voters.

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The rising star joined Bill to fête Nelson Mandela at his 90th birthday dinner in Hyde Park, London, on June 25, 2008. Chelsea, who shared a laugh with the man of the hour, easily hobnobbed with fellow partygoers, including world leaders and some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, among them Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith.

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Weeks later, Chelsea joined her father on a visit to a rural healthcare clinic in Rwanda for the Clinton Foundation, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to fund HIV/AIDS care and prevention. Of Chelsea’s involvement in non-profit work, Bill told PEOPLE in 2007, “I give her mother more credit for that than me. She learned from a very early age that this was just part of living.”

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“She’s my greatest source of support next to my husband,” Hillary told PEOPLE of her daughter’s involvement in her presidential bid. “I’m incredibly proud and grateful for the young woman she’s become.” And though she’s remained largely out of the political fray, Chelsea impressed the country with her toughness on the campaign trail, telling a questioner, “I do not think that is any of your business,” when asked about Monica Lewinsky.

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Though she lost her presidential bid, Hillary’s two biggest supporters, Chelsea and Bill, looked on with pride as she was sworn in as Secretary of State in President Barack Obama’s administration on Feb. 2, 2009. “Our family’s not very big, but it is very close,” Hillary told PEOPLE.

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Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Mezvinsky! The former First Daughter wed her longtime beau on July 31, 2010, in Rhinebeck, New York. As part of a major media deluge, their nuptials were called “the ultimate status invitation.” The ultra-exclusive 400-person guest list included actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and producer Steven Bing. “We could not have asked for a more perfect day to celebrate the beginning of their life together,” Hillary and Bill said in a statement about the couple, “and we are so happy to welcome Marc into our family.”

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Date night! Adjusting to married life, Chelsea and Mezvinsky hit the N.Y.C. charity circuit, including a February 2011 amfAR gala, where Chelsea paid tribute to her father.

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In December 2011, Chelsea made her debut on NBC’s Rock Center as part of NBC News’s “Making a Difference” series. Anchor Brian Williams introduced the new correspondent by saying she “wants to tell stories.” During her tenure, Clinton reported on programs for disadvantaged children, veterans and charter schools.

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It’s a furbaby! The couple prepared for family life with their first “child,” their adorable pint-size pup, on a weekend stroll in N.Y.C. in October 2012.

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A sure sign of things to come? “We want, God willing, to start a family. So we decided to make 2014 the Year of the Baby,” Chelsea told Glamour in an October 2013 interview – a sentiment she repeated in her appearance on Rachael Ray. “If one of my parents were sitting here, they would tell you without blinking an eye that it would make them the happiest thing on earth if I were to make them grandparents.” After leaving her Wall Street job to join the Clintons’ global health initiative, her to-do list also included, “Work really, really hard, and in a way that makes an impact.”

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At an April 17, 2014, event for the Clinton Foundation in New York City, Clinton announced that she and Mezvinsky were expecting a baby. “Marc and I are very excited that we have our first child arriving later this year,” she said. “I certainly feel all the better whether it’s a girl or a boy that she or he will grow up in a world filled with so many strong female leaders.” The proud grandparents later chimed in on Twitter: “My most exciting title yet: Grandmother-To-Be!” wrote Hillary.

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Talk about multitasking! Less than a month after announcing her pregnancy, Clinton received her doctorate degree from England’s Oxford University in May. “Couldn’t be prouder of @ChelseaClinton today,” her proud pop Tweeted. That September, the newly minted PhD announced that she was leaving her position as a special correspondent for NBC News to focus on her work at the Clinton Foundation – and her growing family.

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Days before her baby arrived, a very pregnant Chelsea appeared at the Sept. 21 Clinton Global Citizen Awards in New York, which was attended by celebs including Leonardo DiCaprio and Eva Longoria.

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The Mezvinskys welcomed a girl, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky, on Sept. 26, 2014. “Chelsea is well and glowing. Marc is bursting with pride. Charlotte’s life is off to a good start,” President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton said in a statement.

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This is one Christmas present that’s going to be hard to top! In December 2015, Clinton revealed via Twitter that she and her husband of five years were expecting their second child. “Next summer, Charlotte is going to be a big sister!” Clinton wrote alongside a black-and-white shot of 15-month-old Charlotte reading a book called Big Sisters Are the Best. “Feeling very blessed amp grateful this holiday season!”

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Chelsea and Marc welcomed their second child, son Aidan, on June 18, 2016. Two days after his birth, her parents were there to greet photographers at the hospital.

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Chelsea was in the stands every day during the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Sitting between her husband and Senator Elizabeth Warren, she applauded for her father after his speech. On the fourth night of the convention, she introduced her mother Hillary before accepting the party’s nomination.

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Since her mom’s 2016 campaign, Clinton has stayed busy, penning books for kids and young adults including She Persisted, The Book of Gutsy Women, Start Now! and Don’t Let Them Disappear. 

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But that’s not all! In July 2019, Clinton and Mezvinsky welcomed their third child, son Jasper.

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“She’s unfailingly polite in the face of intense vitriol,” Hillary told PEOPLE of her daughter in 2019. “I just think it takes guts to put yourself out knowing that in addition to all of the accolades and approval you’re going to get from people who agree with you or admire you, you’re going to get this onslaught of nastiness. I think that’s gutsy. I admire her for standing up for what she believes in a very difficult environment.”

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