George H.W. Bush: The Film

Former President George H. W. Bush makes his eighth parachute jump to mark his 90th birthday on June 12, 2014.

Photograph by Joanne Rathe/The Boston Globe via Getty Images via Getty Imgages

Former President George H. W. Bush makes his eighth parachute jump to mark his 90th birthday on June 12, 2014.

Former President George H. W. Bush turns the big 9-0 today and is marking the occasion with one of his favorite pastimes: Skydiving.

Last night, former staffers and admirers, such as John Sununu, his erstwhile chief of staff, and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, gathered to screen a new documentary about Bush’s two best known qualities: His decency and sense of humor.

“When he checks into a hotel, and the doorman shakes his hand, he’ll send the guy a note,” former President George W. Bush joked about his father’s penchant for letter writing, instilled in him by his patrician New England upbringing.

The documentary, entitled “41on41″ will debut on CNN this weekend, and interviews 41 friends, family members and leaders about how they see  the 41st president of the United States.

The screening took place at the Motion Picture Association of America, which is headed by former Sen. Chris Dodd, whose father served as a senator  from Connecticut alongside Sen. Prescott Bush, 41’s father.

Historian David McCullough explained that he’s become friendly with “eight or nine presidents, but if I had to pick one to ride from Boston to St. Louis with, it would be him.”

Former President Bill Clinton, who defeated Bush for reelection in 1992, said the two men have bonded on humanitarian work through the years.

“If there were more people like him, the world would be a better place,” Clinton said.

The film charts Bush’s presidency through the fall of the Berlin Wall to the Gulf War, intensifying his relationships with world leaders.

“He’s the pioneer of telephone diplomacy,” former British Prime Minister John Major said of Bush’s steady communication style.

Lighter moments are added with Bush’s favorite mimic, Dana Carvey, recalling his experiences in the Bush White House, and footage of Bush racing through the waters off his  Kennebunkport, Maine, estate on Fidelity, his boat — or jumping out of airplanes.

What are his weaknesses?

Basketball and golf. His shots on the court are deemed “ungainly” and his putting is way too fast, according to golf pro and buddy Arnold Palmer.

Bush himself doesn’t participate in the film, but has seen it, according to the film’s executive producer, Mary Kate Cary, who worked as a Bush administration speechwriter.

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