There is, then, to be a biopic on Andre the Giant, who was the highest paid figure in wrestling during his WWF (now WWE) tenure from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s. He was also the highest in physical terms, scaling a whopping 7 feet four inches due to acromegaly, the glandular condition that cause his body to over-produce hormones. The man born André René Roussimoff in Grenoble, France in 1946 weighed 500 pounds.
But that’s barely even the most extraordinary fact about him. The upcoming biopic, based on the graphic novel Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven and with his daughter Robin Christensen-Roussimoff onboard as a consultant, will have plenty of myths, rumours and anecdotes to go at; he packed in a hell of a life before sadly dying of heart failure in 1993. Here are our 10 favourite stories about the Eighth Wonder of the World.
He outsold The Rolling Stones
Wrestlemania III in 1987: The main event is Andre the Giant v Hulk Hogan and 78,000 fans descend upon the Pontiac Silver Dome in 1987, at the time setting an indoor attendance record that had previously been held by The Mick ‘n’ Keef and co. Talk about a street fightin’ man.
He could pick up Arnold Schwarzenegger
Apparently he thanked Arnie for dinner by picking up the actor and carrying him to the car park, where he then placed him on top of the car. He owner of the car probably wasn’t impressed, mind.
His original name was Andre the Butcher
New York World Wide Wrestling Federation kingpin Vincent J. McMahon Sr. rechristened the wrestler before he hit the big time.
He was great on a night out
Andre was reportedly great to for a drink with. During his pomp, when he was raking in $20,000 a night for performance at the Madison Square Garden in New York, he would cavort in Manhattan, buying expensive rounds of drinks for strangers and generally being a right laugh. Andre the #Lad, more like.
Fellow wrestler The Fabulous Moulah – aka Lillian Ellison – claimed she once saw Andre neck 127 beers in one sitting, before going for a little nap in the hotel lobby. Not recommended, though the hotel staff, who couldn’t carry him to his room, reportedly draped a piano cover over him in lieu of a duvet cover. Which is quite sweet.
Though sometime he was a right hell-raiser
During one big night out in New York in 1975, he and fellow wrestler Dusty Rhodes nicked two horses and carriages – the kind you see tourists on – and raced them through Manhattan.
He once met a five-year-old Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
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Them’s some serious #squadgoals.
He used to get lifts to school with Samuel Beckett
This is everyone’s favourite Andre the Giant story, surely. In 1953 the existential playwright, who penned Waiting For Godot, bought a property in a rural area 40 miles from Paris. Andre’s father helped him do the place up and Becket wound up regularly driving the young Andre to school because the future wrestler was too big to fit in his father’s car. Apparently they talked about cricket a lot.
Transport was an issue in general
Because big old’ Andre could barely fit in normal person-sized vehicles. He reportedly had a Lincoln Continental customised with the removed so he could drive it from the back seat, while he’d travel in a coach with several seats removed on WWF tours.
As was Japan
Andre used to visit Japan often as he could make big, big bucks doing personal appearances, but he often complained that facilities in the hotel were too small for him. He’s said to have often removed toilet doors so he could stick his legs out in the main room while getting down to business. A king on his throne.