On a whim back in 1979, Lee Redmond decided to stop filing her nails. She intended to cut them off once they started twisting, but her plans changed. Now, 27 years and 33 inches later (report from 2006), the Salt Lake City resident holds the record in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest fingernails.
"It's strange how they become you," she said. "It's almost like it's your identity. It'll probably be a trauma after 27 years to cut them off."
Redmond will be featured in this year's Guinness Book of World Records. She flies to London on Sept. 26 to promote the book. She also has been invited to appear on talk-show host Sharon Osborne's TV show while there. In October, she has offers to make television appearances in France, Italy and Spain. However, traveling is a concern for Redmond.
"They're flying me first class to give me room with my fingernails. The last time I (flew) they were 27 inches and it was a journey then," she said. "Where do you put them for 10 hours on an airplane? That'll be a job . . . (but) it'll be interesting."
Redmond's philosophy that "you are what you eat" has influenced the growth of her nails. She eats a high-protein diet, which is what hair and nails are mostly made of. She used to soak them in warm olive oil once a week, but now she no longer has time, and they don't fit in the fry pan.
FRIDAY THE 13th, FEBRUARY 2009 UPDATE:
Salt Lake City: Lee Redmond loses record-breaking fingernails in crash
The Guinness World Record for longest fingernails was broken Wednesday, so to speak.
The fingernails Salt Lake City resident Lee Redmond has been growing since 1979 were broken off in a four-car pileup Wednesday (February the 11th) in Holladay, said Salt Lake County sheriff's spokesman Don Hutson.
Redmond was a passenger in one of the cars in the 1:30 p.m. crash. She and at least two others were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, Hutson said. She was ejected from the vehicle, Hutson said. The injuries to Lee Redmond were serious but not life threatening, according to police. She in serious condition and the driver in critical condition, Hutson said. Lee Redmond's fingernails, however, were broken off in the crash, according to Hutson.
Redmond's nails were 33 inches long when The Tribune last interviewed her in 2007. She then was 66. In a 1995 article, she said she once turned down $10,000 to trim her nails on Japanese TV.
Source: The Salt Lake Tribune
FRIDAY THE 4th, SEPTEMBER 2009 UPDATE:
Guinness World Records unveils the exclusive story behind Lee Redmond's fingernail loss
A great-grandmother whose 34-inch fingernails snapped off in a car crash has revealed that the accident left her feeling like she had lost part of her identity. However, 68-year-old Lee Redmond, of Salt Lake City, Utah, admitted it had become much easier to get around since she was robbed of her record-breaking assets.
Ms Redmond had been growing her nails for 30 years at the time of the crash in February, and they had reached a combined length of 28ft 4in (8.65 metres).
Ms Redmond currently has 11.5cm (4.5in) of nails and said she has no intention of growing them back to their full former glory.
"People ask if I'm going to grow them again and I say, no, it was a once time thing. It took me 30 years to grow them and to get them to that length and they became the world record, and I probably won't live for 30 more years."
"I always did everything with them, but now it's so much easier to do things. The weight is so different. In fact my hands seem to fly with the weight gone."
Ms Redmond spoke about her fingernail trauma to coincide with the launch of the 2010 edition of Guinness World Records. She appears in the book alongside the male holder of the longest fingernail title, fellow American Melvin Boothe (see the photo below).
Guinness World Records official photo: Melvin Boothe (male longest fingernails - 9.05m long [29-ft 8-in]) & Lee Remond (female longest fingernails: 8.65m long [28-ft 4-in]) a few months before the car crash.
Remembering the day Lee Remond met Melvin Booth for the historic Guinness World Records photograph session Lee said:
"I have very, very fond memories from Melvin, he touched my life. He also broke my heart, to see this man who wouldn't even go out of his home. Tears when I left, both he and I. I hope that some day he will realise that he's more than his fingernails. . . I think the difference between Melvin and me, for one thing they didn't keep me from going out in public, and they didn't make me be secluded. I would have never, never chose to keep them if they would have had to keep me away from people or you know, living whatever normal is you know. I hope he will decide to go out and interact with people and I'm sure that he felt the love that I had for him and respect. It wasn't his fingernails; it was him that I cared for."
Mrs. Remond concludes:
"After the accident, not my children, but my great grand babies, they wanted me to glue them back on! I always did everything with them, but now it's so much easier to do things now. The weight is so different, so much. In fact my hands seem to fly with the weight gone."
On the website of Guinness World Records you can also read GWR Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday's story about his meetings with Lee Redmond before AND after the car accident. Glenday describes e.g.:
"My most recent encounter with Lee was on her home turf in Salt Lake City, Utah. Concerned about her health after the car crash, I popped over to see her and help our press team film the first interview after her life-threatening accident. Once again, I was struck by her joie de vivre and strong sense of survival. Life had thrown her a curveball, she said, but she just just got right back up again."
"Thankfully, Lee made a spectacular recovery, albeit sans her nails! “That time in my life is now over,” she said over dinner. “I truly believe that the decision for me to lose my nails was taken out of my hands and made by a higher authority. It’s a sign – I may not have known that I needed to move on, but I do now!"
THE WORLD (FORMER) RECORD:
Sources: Utahn nails a spot in world record book and Guiness World Record