Robert Wadlow and his dad

The short and glamorous life of the tallest man in the world

Robert Wadlow was only 22 years old when he died, but his 8.9 feet (2.71 meters) will never be forgotten. Check out the incredible story of the tallest man in the history of the world, who became a celebrity in the United States.

By  Kelsey Miller
  • He was born in Alton, Illinois in 1918.
  • As a baby, he was born with a normal size but after 6 months his weight was around 30 pounds (ca. 14 kg).
  • His size was due to a problem in his pituitary gland called hyperplasia, that affected his growth hormone.
  • He was called the Giant of Alton, and has a statue with his name.

From having a name in the Guinness World Record to a massive funeral with more than 40.000 people, his life was a roller coaster. At that time, medicine wasn't that advanced to develop hormones against excessive growth like nowadays, so probably, he will keep the record forever. The world wasn't ready for someone that tall. But his size brought several problems. He couldn't run, and he had to used a walking stick.

At a young age he had to use a walking stick

He weighed 489 pounds (ca. 222 kg) and wherever he went, hotels had to figure out how to build beds for him. Of course, he got a job with the circus, and he became a celebrity nation-wide.

He couldn´t fit in almost any vehicle

He broke several records, for example, he had the biggest boy scout uniform built, as well as the largest Masonic ring and the widest couch. He was a tedious reader, and he was a kind soul, according to those who knew him.

His original shoe on display

After his massive funeral, where 16 people carried his coffin, his mom burnt all his clothing so that people didn't remember him as a "freak" but as a good person.

The statue of the Giant of Alton

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