He remained popular personally even though his career was tainted by scandal.
Before being taken to the Columbia Campus of New York Presbyterian Hospital with chest discomfort, he had been working overtime as the U.N. special envoy to Haiti following the devastating earthquake there on Jan. 12, 2010.
Following are some of the key dates in Clinton's life:
Aug. 19, 1946 -- Clinton is born William Jefferson Blythe IV in Hope, Ark., after his father dies in a traffic accident. He later takes the last name of his stepfather, Roger Clinton.
July 24, 1963 -- As a high school student and delegate to the American Legion Boys Nation, Clinton meets President John F. Kennedy in the White House Rose Garden and is photographed shaking Kennedy's hand.
1968 -- Wins a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford University in England.
1968 -- Earns bachelor's degree from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
1973 -- Earns a law degree from Yale University. Takes teaching job at University of Arkansas Law School.
1974 -- Clinton loses an Arkansas congressional race to incumbent Republican Rep. John Paul Hammerschmidt.
Oct. 11, 1975 -- Marries Hillary Rodham in Fayetteville, Ark.
1976 -- Elected attorney general of Arkansas.
Nov. 7, 1978 -- Elected governor of Arkansas, defeating Republican Lynn Lowe.
Feb. 27, 1980 -- Hillary Rodham Clinton gives birth to the couple's only child, Chelsea.
Nov. 4, 1980 -- Loses re-election bid as Arkansas governor. Takes job at private law firm.
Nov. 2, 1982 -- Re-elected governor of Arkansas, defeating Republican Gov. Frank D. White in rematch of 1980 race.
Oct. 3, 1991 -- Amid his fifth term as governor of Arkansas, Clinton declares he's running for president.
Feb. 18, 1992 -- After damage from scandals including accusations of draft dodging during the Vietnam War and claims of an extramarital affair, Clinton finishes second in the New Hampshire Democratic primary and declares, "New Hampshire tonight has made Bill Clinton the comeback kid."
June 2, 1992 -- Wraps up the Democratic nomination for president.
July 16, 1992 -- Clinton officially becomes the party's candidate for president at the Democratic National Convention in New York. Sen. Al Gore, D-Tenn., is his running mate.
Nov. 3, 1992 -- Garners 43 percent of the popular vote and 370 electoral votes to defeat President George H.W. Bush and independent candidate Ross Perot. Democrats maintain their majority in both houses of Congress.
Jan. 20, 1993 -- Clinton is sworn in as the 42nd president of the United States.
Jan. 22, 1993 -- Signs orders overturning Reagan- and Bush-era restrictions on abortions.
Feb. 5, 1993 -- Signs his first law, the Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows workers at large companies to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to attend to family concerns.
April 19, 1993 -- Attorney General Janet Reno authorizes a federal raid to end a standoff at the compound of a Waco, Texas, cult, resulting in a fire and dozens of deaths.