[Scroll to the bottom to see a slideshow featuring photos of his life & career]
Andre the Giant (Andre Rene Roussimoff) was born in the countryside of Grenoble, France to parents of average size. It was quickly discovered that Andre most closely shared the genetics of his Bulgarian grandfather who stood over 7 feet tall.
When Andre was 14, he towered over his peers at 6’2 and weighed 200 lbs. Because of his size and pure power, it was expected that he was going to work the family farm. Instead he trekked away from the countryside to Paris and became a furniture mover.
While living in Paris, Andre would spend a fair amount of time in the gym. At the age of 17, he was discovered by local wrestlers who helped him learn the art. Eventually, he found himself wrestling professionally in North America and Japan.
Andre was 22 when a doctor informed him that he had Gigantism, which meant he would never stop growing. The condition is caused when a child’s pituitary gland makes too much growth hormone. Those who grow into adults tend to have circulatory issues because their vital organs can’t keep up with the body’s needs.
In response to the diagnosis, Andre decided to shrug it off and continue to live life on his own terms. He ate and drank as though there would be no tomorrow and continued to compete.
At the height of his career, Andre was making about $400,000 and only lost two matches in 15 years. Hollywood was his next stop when he was cast as “Bigfoot” in “The Six Million Dollar Man.”
As his prominence continued to grow, so did his love for beer. It has been reported that he would many times drink several cases of beer per day, and one time Andre consumed 156 beers in a single sitting.
In 1987, Andre landed the role of “Fezzik” in “The Princess Bride.” It was reported that his partying habits were infectious, and he would keep cast members out into the early morning hours. When he checked out of his hotel, Andrew’s bar tab was over $40,000. Not long thereafter he was arrested for assaulting a reporter.
Eventually, Andre began having a hard time walking and retired to his North Carolina ranch.
In 1993, his father died and Andre flew home where he stayed at the Hotel De La Tremoille. One night he went to sleep and was never seen alive again — the cause of his death was heart failure. He was just 46.