Tall tales
September 26, 2003 8:57 AM   Subscribe

The tallest man on record was Roger Pershing Wadlow which I discovered after finding this curious photo. His 8'11.1" stature dwarfed Andre's mere 7'4" height. Both suffered from the rare pituitary disorder of gigantism or acromegaly. China has some really tall people including Defen Yao. If her height of 7"8.5" is accurate, it is more than an inch taller than Guinness record holder Sandy Allen. By comparison, the top 50 tallest basketball players provide some scale. (centimeter converter). Apparently, girls and giants are a popular combo.
posted by madamjujujive (20 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Some of us will remember the late, great Roy Castle singing a song about Mr Wadlow where the chorus went, "Roger Pershing Wadlow; eight foot eleven point five [sic] and THIRTY-FIVE STONE!" A packet of orange Space Dust to anyone who can find that song online. Here's the Record Breakers theme (scroll down a bit).
posted by Dan Brilliant at 9:12 AM on September 26, 2003

Rondo Hatton!
posted by ice_cream_motor at 9:24 AM on September 26, 2003

Yeah, but does that guy have a posse?
posted by mookieproof at 10:09 AM on September 26, 2003

According to the Guinness World Records website, the current tallest man alive is Radhouane Charbib at 7 ft 8.9 in. Anyone else find this surprising? Human beings in general have been getting taller, yet there's no one alive today within even a foot of a guy born 80 years ago.
posted by Daze at 10:36 AM on September 26, 2003

His father had to modify the family car, removing the front passenger seat so Robert could sit in the back and stretch out his long legs.

Aww man they totally stole that from Police Academy
posted by soren at 10:43 AM on September 26, 2003

Daze, the reason that we're not seeing these types of giants today has a lot to do with the advances in growth hormone therapy. The disorders of the pituitary gland that were most likely responsible for RPW gigantism are routinely treated nowadays. The only true giants we're likely to see from here on out will come from regions so isolated or impoverished that such treatments are unknown or unavailable.

These links do beg the question though: At what point do parents and doctors decide that an abnormally tall child should receive therapy? Will we see more boys in America decline medical treatment in hopes of being the NBA's next "big man"?

All I know is, that if I grew any taller than I am today (6'8") I'd be one unhappy camper...
posted by trivirgata at 10:51 AM on September 26, 2003

I love the photo of him with his graduating class. Really conveys how massive he was.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:53 AM on September 26, 2003

Not to burst anyone's bubble, but Andre the Giant (real name Andre Rene Roussimoff) never reached more than 6' 10". His alleged height of 7' 4" was simply part of his gimmick. Here's some further discussion about it.
posted by marcusb at 11:20 AM on September 26, 2003

What a hell this man was born in, having missed out on a fabulous career in porn by just forty years.

I'm making some assumptions here.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:21 AM on September 26, 2003

Begging the qestion
posted by syzygy at 11:28 AM on September 26, 2003

I can't imagine living with being that size. Jeez, and I complain because the standard length of women's sleeves and pant legs is often just a little too short for me.
posted by orange swan at 11:32 AM on September 26, 2003

Wow, what a great post. I especially loved the progression of Eddie Carmel through the years (see giants and girls)... seems like he was right on the cusp of hipsterhood when his mega-tude did him in.
posted by UlfMagnet at 12:38 PM on September 26, 2003

From my roommate, via email:

When i was about 8 andre the giant was on a plane with
me to somewhere (i forget where).
i got his autograph.
his hands were very very big.
and his voice was very very low.
and he sat in two first class seats.
posted by UlfMagnet at 12:55 PM on September 26, 2003

Oh, so what.

I once passed Sgt. Slaughter's limo on the highway. It was painted camoflauge.
posted by jonmc at 1:20 PM on September 26, 2003

I met Sandy Allen once, when I was a kid. We were visiting Niagara Falls, and stopped into the Guinness World Records museum. They had various statues and displays of the extremely tall or fat or small and whatnot, and we were running around, playing with (and on) all of them. We turned a corner, and there was another strange looking exhibit, of the world's largest woman, sitting on a bench, reading. It seemed a little strange, so we approached slowly, and were pretty surprised when she looked up and waved to us. She turned out to be really nice, talked to us, gave us autographs, all that.

I also touched George "The Animal" Steele once. Ew.
posted by majcher at 1:50 PM on September 26, 2003

I once passed Sgt. Slaughter's limo on the highway

That sounds extraordinarily painful.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:34 PM on September 26, 2003

Sometimes, I wonder about myself. The first thing I thought, when viewing that picture, was.."Gee, look how big that shoe is..... Huh. Look how big that guy is compared to that little woman there.... HOLY CHRIST. LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT SHOE. I WONDER HOW BIG HIS..."

Anyway, I'm nasty. Carry on.
posted by bradth27 at 3:23 PM on September 26, 2003

I am not tall. That is all.
posted by billsaysthis at 6:27 PM on September 26, 2003

I wear a size 8 1/2. Unless I'm picking sneakers, in which case I might take a women's 10 because they're narrower in the heel...

Are they still called sneakers these days?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:18 PM on September 26, 2003

Bradthe27 and stupidsexyFlanders, you aren't the first people to wonder about other attributes. And UlfMagnet, it is too bad about Eddie C's early demise...many giants have short life spans. The tallest man in Iceland seemed to be an exception - he lived to the ripe old age of 71.

Thanks to all who added links and comments - esp you trivirgata! Welcome to mefi - nice first comment, thanks!

...and fff, I hope your wife is better!
posted by madamjujujive at 11:55 PM on September 26, 2003

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