Professional Wrestler, Actor. One of the largest athletes to participate in any sport, at his peak, he stood 7' 4" tall and weighed over 500 pounds. He was the first wrestler to gain national fame and was largely responsible for the immense popularity of wrestling in the 1970s and 1980s. Born in the small village of Molien, France, he suffered from acromegaly, a disease that results in an over abundance of growth hormones. Also known as Gigantism, this disease caused Andre's body to continue growing his whole life, and by the time he was 17, he stood 6 feet, 7 inches tall. Due to his immense stature it seemed inevitable that Andre would excel in the wresting world. He had just begun to make a name for himself in the ring as "Monster Eiffel Tower" or "Monster Roussimoff" when French-Canadian wrestler and promoter Edouard Carpenter saw him, and decided to bring him to North America. Andre began wrestling under the name Jean Ferre in Canada, and within a very short time, went from the under card to becoming a headlining name. Inspired by the movie "King Kong" he acquired the nickname "The 8th Wonder of the World," which would stay with him for the rest of his career. By the time he had performed in front of 20,000 wrestling fans in Montreal, his legend had reached Vince McMahon at the World Wide Wrestling Federation's (WWWF) headquarters. McMahon would forever change Andre's life. In 1972, McMahon signed him to wrestle for the WWWF, changed his name to "Andre the Giant" and made him into one of the most recognizable names in wrestling. Andre performed under his new name at Madison Square Garden, where he easily defeated Buddy Wolfe. Before long, Andre's bouts were sold out. As he grew to stardom, he was featured in "Sports Illustrated" in one of the largest features the magazine would ever publish. In 1987, Andre drew the largest crowd thus far in the World Wrestling Federation (formerly WWWF) history, when a record 90,000 fans packed into the Pontiac Silver Dome in Detroit, Michigan to watch him wrestle the legendary Hulk Hogan in the main event of Wrestle Mania III (Andre lost the match to Hogan). Andre would participate at six Wrestle Manias, facing some of the toughest opponents in professional wrestling. For many years, he was known as the "Uncrowned Champion" until he finally won the crown in February 1988, only to hold it for one of the shortest reigns in WWF history (one minute, he handed over the title immediately after receiving it to Ted DiBiase). Andre's fame opened the door to Hollywood, and in 1975, he made his acting debut in the role of Big Foot in the television series "The Six Million Dollar Man." He would also make guest appearances in "BJ and the Bear," "The Fall Guy," and "The Greatest American Hero." He would also appear in such movies as "Conan the Destroyer" (1984), "Micki and Maude" (1984), and "Trading Mom" (1994). He considered his most favorite role to be that of the giant Fezzik, in the classic children's film "The Princess Bride" (1987). Andre's last television appearance was on a celebration of twenty years of NWA/WCW wrestling on TBS. Over the years, the effects of acromegaly continued to wear down his body, and Andre died in his hotel room in Paris, France, on January 27, 1993 from congestive heart failure. He became the first inductee into the WWF Hall of Fame (1993). His ashes were later taken back to the United States and spread over his North Carolina ranch.
Bio by: Art & Tracy
Jean Elizabeth Gantriis Christensen