Andre the Giant is a legend that everyone knows and recognizes, whether it’s from wrestling or his role in The Princess Bride. He was born on May 19, 1946 in Grenoble, France. He is the only one in his family of 7 that suffered from Acromegaly, also known as Giantism. Giantism is due to an excess of hormones which causes your body to never stop growing. Andre continued to grow his entire life. When he died, he was 7 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 500 lbs. Andre was known as “the 8th Wonder of the World” and these pictures will show you why:
1. Andre the Giant was also known as “The Gentle Giant” despite his great strength and the name he made for himself in the world of wrestling. He was also very generous, refusing to let anyone pay for him when they went out to eat. He once bodily lifted Arnold Schwarzenegger off his feet and carried him back to his table stating, “I Pay” when Schwarzenegger was about to pay their bill. (This photo was actually on the set of the film Conan.)
2. When Andre first came to America from France he was known in the wrestling world as “Monster Eiffel Tower” but then started wrestling under the name Jean Ferre.
3. Andre was 6′ 7″ by the time he was 17 years old, but due to his condition he just kept growing. In this picture, he is 19 years old and within two years he shot up to 7′ 4″ tall.
4. It’s easy to forget how big he is by himself, until you see him holding something that puts him in perspective, like this 12oz beer can.
5. Andre The Giant was known for being a drunk. He once drank 119 beers in 6 hours, an average of 1 beer every 3 minutes! Another time he drank 127 beers in a hotel lobby and passed out, but no one could move him because he was too big so they just left him in there until he woke up.
6. In 1987, he drew the largest crowd recorded consisting of over 90,000 fans at the Pontiac Silver Dome in Michigan when he wrestled Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III. It is rumored that Andre helped to cement Hogan’s career by telling him to throw him in the ring, breaking his winning streak of over 3,000 consecutive wins (he hadn’t lost a match since 1971) because he knew his career was soon ending. Hogan picked up the over 7 foot tall Giant and body slammed him to the mat where he pinned him for the win.
7. Whenever Andre would travel to Japan, it is reported that the bathrooms were too small for him so he would, take care of business in pools or on newspapers.
8. Stephanie McMahon (the child in the picture under Andre’s arm) has been life-long friends with Andre The Giant.
9. Andre was already over 6 feet tall and 200 lbs when he was only 12 years old.
10. Sources say Andre once flipped a car with four people inside who had locked themselves in after harassing Andre at a bar where he was drinking alone.
11. Andre left home when he was 14 and got a job moving furniture. He discovered wrestling when some fellow wrestlers saw him working out in a gym and taught him some wrestling moves when he was just 17 years old. Later when one of the professional wrestlers was injured, Andre wrestled in his place.
12. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was very close to Andre the Giant, calling him ‘Uncle Andre’ even though they were not related. The Rock’s father was a professional wrestler and good friends with Andre so he grew up with Andre The Giant.
13. Here Andre is standing with Dwayne Johnson’s father, Rocky Johnson (on the right).
14. Women often asked Andre to take pictures while being held by him. This was taken on Croisette Beach in Cannes, France in July of 1967.
15. Andre was a gentleman to the core. He had wanted to go to a Broadway play but stayed away because he knew he would block people’s view of the show. Here he is in France at a fashion show in 1966.
16. Andre the Giant standing next to Debbie Harry, the lead singer of Blondie.
17. Andre The Giant’s first role in Hollywood was as “Bigfoot” in 1975 on The Six Million Dollar Man.
18. Andre starred in several movies making it big in Hollywood, in addition to the wrestling world. His favorite roll was Fezzik in The Princess Bride. It’s ironic that he is the sober one trying to help his drunk friend considering his own HUGE drinking problem.
19. Andre Rene Roussimoff, AKA Andre The Giant, AKA The 8th Wonder of the World, AKA The Gentle Giant died January 27,1993 in Paris, France in his hotel room after attending his father’s funeral. His disease had taken too big of a toll on his body and his heart finally gave out. His ashes were taken home and spread at his ranch in North Carolina.
Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, Andre The Giant was just a fixture when it came to wrestling and movies. I remember watching him climb into the ring. Even if wrestling is partially fake, I don’t think I would want to get in the ring with someone who is 7’4″. What if he slipped and fell by accident? That’s a lot of body coming down hard. Let’s wish Andre The Giant a happy birthday on May 19th, what would have been his 74th birthday!