After just six weeks in office, Liz Truss announced Thursday she’d resign as Britain’s prime minister.
Hers was a historically short tenure and a mostly unsuccessful one: Truss’ economic agenda threw markets into disarray and saw the value of the pound against the US dollar drop to an all-time low.
For those reasons, her departure wasn’t unexpected: Critics had recently pitted her against a head of lettuce to see which of them would last longer. The iceberg lettuce had just started to wilt when Truss made her announcement.
Truss is the shortest-tenured British prime minister, but she’s far from the only public figure who spent stunningly little time in a high-profile position. From the ninth US president William Henry Harrison and young King Louis XIX to NFL coach Bill Belichick and comic Conan O’Brien, here are some of the most famous short tenures among politicians, monarchs and celebrities.
White House Communications Director: 10 days
For just over one week in July 2017, Scaramucci, a longtime associate of former President Donald Trump, served in Trump’s administration. He was the third person to fill the role of White House communications director since May of that year, CNN reported at the time. But during those 10 days, Scaramucci proved himself perhaps too outspoken even for a convention-breaking administration: He repeatedly criticized former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in interviews with the New Yorker and CNN’s “New Day.” He was ousted before the end of the month and has gone on to become a vocal critic of Trump.
US President: 32 days
Harrison, the former governor of the Indiana Territory responsible for negotiating treaties with Native Americans that drove them off their land and moved White settlers in, was elected president in 1840 but soon fell ill with a cold. The cold became pneumonia, which killed him just over one month after his term began. His was the shortest tenure of any US president, according to White House archives.
Head coach of the New York Jets: 1 day
The NFL titan spent one eventful day as head coach of the New York Jets in 2000. Apparently appointed to the position by his mentor and former head coach, Bill Parcells, he resigned just one day later, informing Jets front office staff of his abrupt departure with a hastily written note in shorthand (ESPN reported that he wrote he would no longer be “HC of the NYJ”).
Belichick is now best known as the long-time leader of the New England Patriots, whom he joined soon after abandoning the Jets. Of all current NFL head coaches, he’s spent the most time with the same team – he recently began his 23rd season leading the Patriots. Long-suffering Jets fans everywhere may never forgive him.
White House National Security Adviser: 24 days
Less than one month after Trump’s 2017 inauguration, Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, was forced to resign after he “misled” then-Vice President Mike Pence and Priebus about his discussions with a Russian ambassador to the US. His legal troubles mounted later that year when he was charged for lying to the FBI in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He pleaded guilty to the charge, but Trump, still an ally to Flynn after the adviser’s departure from the White House, pardoned him shortly before leaving office in 2020.
Wife of King Henry VIII: Six months
Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of King Henry VIII, survived her marriage of the oft-married/divorced/widower-ed king, unlike three of his wives. Their relationship was a political arrangement designed to utilize the power and influence of the House of Cleves, but Henry was not infatuated with his young wife (she had the misfortune of following Jane Seymour, Henry’s favorite wife). The marriage was annulled six months later, but the two stayed on friendly terms, with Anne occasionally visiting Henry at court before her death.
Host of “The Tonight Show”: Seven months
In 2009, NBC made a major show of handing the reins of its signature late-night talk show from veteran host Jay Leno to the sprightly yet experienced O’Brien. And then, less than one year later, O’Brien was replaced with Leno after disputes over the show’s timeslot and the muted reaction to Leno’s own primetime show. O’Brien eventually returned to late night on TBS, but his run on “The Tonight Show” was the shortest of any of its hosts.
Kings of France and Portugal, respectively: 20 minutes
Louis-Antoine’s father, King Charles X, served for six years before abdicating the throne in 1830. As his heir-apparent, Louis-Antoine became King Louis XIX … until he, too, abdicated 20 minutes later, according to the French Embassy in the US. The late Frenchman still holds the Guinness World Record for shortest-reigning monarch in history, sharing the title with Prince Luís Filipe, who was also king for 20 minutes. His unfortunate reign followed the assassination of his father, Dom Carlos I, and ended when he too died of injuries from the same attack that killed his father.
Members of the cast: From four days to less than one season
“Saturday Night Live” remains one of the foremost showcases for comedic talent, but many lauded performers struggled to find their footing on the program. Laurie Metcalf and Ben Stiller lasted just a handful of episodes. The late Gilbert Gottfried made it through about half of a season before he was fired. At least two comics were hired but never appeared on the series: “SNL” dropped stand-up Shane Gillis in 2019 a few days after his casting was announced when his critics uncovered racist jokes and other offensive comments he’d made on various podcasts. Beloved Canadian comedian Catherine O’Hara quit one week after joining the cast. Nearly all of them, though, went on to find success away from Studio 8H.