André the Giant was a staple in the wrestling world for the majority of the 80s. He not only was a huge wrestling star, but he also managed to become a movie star thanks to his role in The Princess Bride.
But how did the “Gentle Giant” get his start in wrestling? Let’s see how much you really know about the man who was around for so much of your childhood.
1. Where did it all start?
André the Giant was actually born André René Roussimoff in a small town in France. He had four siblings, but none of them grew as tall as he did. He was born with a rare hormonal disorder called Acromegaly, which causes the pituitary gland to produce excess growth hormones.
André reached a height of 6’3″ by the time he was 12-years-old, and he didn’t stop growing. When he was 14 he decided to move out of his home and go get a job. At 17, he began training at a gym that just happened to be filled with wrestlers, and after a while he seemed to have found his calling.
2. He was kind of a goofball
Even though his job as a wrestler required him to fight people, he seemed to try to make it a fun experience. He would often wring out the sweat from his singlet onto his opponents faces, and once he purposefully farted on them. Jake “The Snake” Roberts said that André squatted down right over his face and farted. “This went on for like 30 seconds,” Roberts said. “Giants fart for extremely long periods of time.”
3. He had a lot of medical issues
Because he was so large, André had to deal with a lot of physical pain. In 1986 he had to have a spinal surgery that forced him to take a break from wrestling. When he eventually came back, he had to wear braces under his costume to prevent himself from getting hurt.
4. He didn’t actually discover the reason he was so large until he was an adult
He was on a wrestling tour in Japan when he finally decided to see a doctor about the condition where they came up with the diagnosis of acromegaly. The life expectancy of someone with this condition is only 40-years-old, but André lived to 46.
5. He could lift cars
As a prank, André would pick up his friend’s cars as a joke and move them into small parking spaces or just turn them in place. He never really lifted weights, his strength was due to his condition. There are rumors that he once flipped the car of some people who were harassing him, but it’s hard to know if that’s true.
There were however some rumors about him that were definitely not true…
6. He was actually very sweet
He was very kind on the set of The Princess Bride, with Robin Wright claiming that he would use his large hands to cover her entire head to help keep her warm. Kind of like he did in the scene pictures with Carey Elwes, only sweeter.
7. The rumors about his drinking are over-exaggerated
While he did enjoy wine and beer, the rumors that he drank 100 cans of beer a night are an over-estimate. According to his colleagues and friends, alcohol didn’t affect him as much as it would for others. There were only a few instances where his drinking got out of control, one was on the set of The Princess Bride.
After a day of shooting, the cast went out for drinks. His co-star, Carey Elwes, says that André drank so much that he passed out in the hotel lobby. But because of his size, no one could get him up to his room so the hotel just used velvet rope to keep people away from him.
While the rumors about his drinking aren’t true, this photo of him holding a beer can is real. That isn’t a prop size can, his hands are just that big!
8. His billed height was actually also exaggerated
André was often billed as a 7’4″ giant, and while he was still extremely tall, it turns out the WWF (now WWE) was being a little generous. When he was measured in 1970 he actually stood 6 feet, 9 and 3/4 inches tall.
9. He loved the shopping channel
He had a unique home in North Carolina that had a tree growing through all the levels. When he wasn’t on tour wrestling, he became obsessed with QVC, the home shopping channel. According to his friends he owned several steam cleaners and porcelain butterflies.
10. He hated baby oil
You would think that a wrestler would accept that baby oil would be a big part of their life, but André refused. He hated it, which is part of the reason why he didn’t get along with “Macho Man” Randy Savage. According To Savage’s brother, Larry Poffo, “Randy wouldn’t stop wearing it. He stubbornly said ‘André’s gimmick is being a giant and mine is baby oil.’ He never backed down from André and they never got along because of it.”