Date of birth
February 22, 1918, Alton, Illinois, USA
Date of Death
July 15, 1940, Manistee, Michigan, USA (infection of the left ankle)
Robert Pershing Wadlow
The Gentle Giant
The greatest man who ever lived
8 ’11 “(2.72 m)
A tragic figure who hated his size and his life. He was forced into the role of a monster first class by his father, who marched across the country specializing in a Model T (it had the front passenger seat is removed, and Robert was sitting at the back.) His father left his job as a worker at an oil company to devote himself to Robert and his career. In all, Robert has made 747 personal appearances across the country, appearing on everything from store openings to Ringling Brothers / Barnum & Bailey Circus. He was born of normal size, but early in his life, he developed a problem with her pituitary gland, and by age 9 he was 6 feet tall. He lived at a time in racist America, growing up in lilly white Alton, Illinois. He listened to the radio a lot and followed the rise of Hitler. He was fascinated by Germany enough to spend its foreign language courses in high school Latin to German. It has been experienced for many years at Washington University in St. Louis by a doctor who was from Germany. Robert would always insist on sharing stories of his native doctor. His intelligence was limited. He graduated from high school but dropped out after one semester. That’s when he started his career. In his first job he promoted a shoe company, who supplied him with his size 37 shoe. For most of his life he was the center of attention. He made news annually on his birthday. The Alton Telegraph, the local newspaper, often followed by his life. In July 1940, in Manistee, Michagan, Robert was paid to appear in a July 4th parade.
The temperature was stifling and unbearable humidity. His father wrote a book with a ghost writer in 1945 about Robert. It was a PR puff piece that shone with anecdotes about what a grandfather Robert had. But, grandfather, or not, Robert had an infection in his left ankle that was left untreated, and on that hot summer day, the tallest man who ever lived has done his appearance 4 hours in the parade (he rode in the back of a truck) and when he returned to the hotel room, he collapsed, and a doctor was summoned. He lingered in the hotel room for 3 days before his death. Two beds had to be placed end to end in welcome. In Alton, it was reported that 30,000 people attended his funeral. Remarkable only for its size, Robert Pershing Wadlow died of an unsatisfied soul.