Andre the Giant - born Andre Roussimoff in Grenoble, France, in 1946 - was a true giant among men. He suffered from acromegaly, also known as giantism, which caused his body to produce excess growth hormones throughout his whole life. Roussimoff outgrew his friends and family quickly, and was 6'3'' and 200 pounds by the age of twelve and 6'7'' when he was 17.
He soared above his competitors at 6 feet, 11 inches tall (although he was tauted to be 7'4") and made a name for himself in the ring as well as in Hollywood. His role as Fezzik, the endearing giant from The Princess Bride, was only one of his many acting jobs. Roussimoff's life was plagued by health problems due to his condition but it's his hilarious pranks, kind heart, and ability to pound drinks that make for the best André the Giant stories.
He Once Drank Over 100 Beers In 45 Minutes
André like beer and proved it with the large amounts he could drink at one time. One of his friends claimed that he once drank 117 bottles of German beer in a night. Other stories have André drinking 106 beers and cleared out every bit of vodka on a flight from Chicago to Japan with his manager and fellow wrestler Ric Flair.
He once drank 102 beers in 45 minutes during an hour layover in the Tampa airport and his record was 156 beers in one sitting.
He Was A Prankster And Used To Move People's Cars
André used his size to have fun. He would move his friends' cars while they ate dinner, either turning it in the other direction or putting it into an incredibly small space.
He also used his size to protect himself. People would try to fight André - often while drunk. On one occasion, a drunk lumberjack approached André, and he politely told him he did not want to fight. He even offered to buy the lumberjack a drink, but it wasn't soothing him.
The lumberjack cursed and lunged at Andre, who then grabbed him by the neck and belt and chucked him across the room, breaking his ribs.
He Was Offered A Position On The Washington Redskins
In 1975, Washington Redskins director of player personnel, Tim Temerario, called up the World Wrestling Federation to offer André the Giant a job. He wanted him to play on the Redskins' defensive line, which was struggling at the time. No tryout was ever held but given André's size, he would have been a good addition.
For context, when William "the Refrigerator" Perry was approached for Wrestlemania 2 in 1986, an event that pitted the NFL against the WWE, Perry was just 6'2" and 302 pounds. The WWF/WWE listed André the Giant's height at 7'4" tall with a weight of 500 pounds.
As A Kid, Playwright Samuel Beckett Used To Drive Him To School
As the story goes, when André was a young boy in France, he had to walk to school because he was too big for the school bus and his parents didn't have a car that could carry his weight. Nobel prize winning playwright Samuel Becket had land near the Roussimoff home and, after André's father, Boris, helped Becket build his cottage, the two men became friends.
After Beckett learned of the trouble André was having getting to school, he offered to drive him in his truck. The two chatted on their rides, usually about cricket.
He Drank 7,000 Calories Of Alcohol Every Day
Another nickname given to André was the "greatest drunk on the planet." André had a huge tolerance for alcohol and drank 7,000 calories of alcohol each day. He didn't drink all at once, but drank throughout the day, taking in "a case or so of beer; a total of two bottles of wine, generally French, with his meals; six or eight shots of brandy, usually Courvoisier or Napolèon, though sometimes Calvados; half a dozen standard mixed drinks, such as Bloody Marys or Screwdrivers; and the odd glass of Pernod."
By several accounts, he didn't get drunk often but, when he wanted to, he drank three fifths of vodka to do so.
- Photo: The Princess Bride / 20th Century Fox
The Princess Bride Director Rob Reiner Recorded The Script On Audio Tape So André Could Learn The Lines
André the Giant started making appearances on the night show circuit during the early 1970s and began taking on small acting roles in 1976. He was on The Six Million Dollar Man and BJ and the Bear and appeared uncredited in the 1984 movie Conan The Destroyer. He's perhaps best known for his role in Rob Reiner's 1987 movie The Princess Bride.
By 1986, André's health was failing. He had back surgery and needed to wear a brace to wrestle so he turned to acting more and more. When André had a hard time with English, Rob Reiner recorded the entire script on audio tape for him so he could learn the lines. After the movie was made, André was said to carry a copy of it with him wherever he went, often putting on screenings for his companions.