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Robert Wadlow

On this day in history

Submitted by Roanman on Sun, 07/15/2012 - 17:09


It's funny the stuff you remember.  

I'm posting this story because I can distinctly remember my mother telling me about going to Saginaw, Michigan as a young woman and seeing a giant who she was pretty sure stood 9 feet tall.

I vividly remember thinking to myself that this was an extreme exaggeration at best.


Robert Pershing Wadlow, "The Gentleman Giant" passed away on this date in 1940 at the age of 22.

At 8'11.1" he is the tallest person in known human history.

Robert was born on February 22, 1918, in Alton Illinois.  At birth he weighed a normal eight pounds, six ounces. At six months of age he had grown to weigh 30 pounds. A year later at 18 months, he weighed 62 pounds. He continued to grow at an astounding rate, reaching six feet, two inches and 195 pounds by the time he was eight years old. 

At age 18, he had reached eight feet, four inches tall, and weighed 390 pounds. His clothing required three times the normal amount of cloth, and his size 37 shoes cost $100.00 a pair (a lot of money back in the 1930's). Two years later his shoes were provided free by the International Shoe Company.

At 20 Robert began travelling for the shoe company, visiting over 800 towns and 41 states. His father had to modify the family car, removing the front passenger seat so Robert could sit in the back seat and stretch out his long legs. The father and son team traveled over 300,000 miles on their goodwill tour for the shoe company.

Robert's size 37 feet had troubled him for many years. He had little sensation in his feet and did not feel any chafing until blisters formed. While making an appearance in Manistee, Michigan in July 1940, a fatal infection set in when such a blister formed. On July 4th, doctors had Robert confined to a hotel bed, unable to find suitable accommodations at the local hospital. Days later, after emergency surgery and blood transfusions, the infection lingered and his temperature continued to rise. At 1:30 a.m., on the 15th of July, Robert Wadlow passed away in his sleep.

Robert's body was brought back to his home town of Alton for burial. The 1,000-pound casket required a dozen pallbearers, assisted by eight other men. Out of respect for Alton's Gentle Giant, all city businesses closed for the funeral. Over 40,000 people signed the guest register.


Click on the photo of Robert and his 5'11" father for Robert's page in the Alton Web Museum.




Apologies ... it was too strong.


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