Weird History
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These Photographs Show The Tragic Story Of The Kind-Hearted Real Life Shrek

Updated December 4, 2018 240.5k views6 items

Maurice Tillet, also known as "The French Angel," the "Ugliest Man in the World," and, more recently, the "real-life Shrek," was a French lawyer-turned-wrestler who made a name for himself internationally for both his unique appearance and his signature bear-hug wrestling move. What many don't realize, however, is that this man was also suffering from a tragic disease known as acromegaly that transformed him from a generally normal man with a kind disposition to a man forced into social isolation because of his suddenly inherited deformities.

The man who many believe to be the inspiration behind the titular character in DreamWorks' Shrek was also a soldier, lawyer, renowned wrestler, and even a stunt actor who – despite the pain and isolation he endured from his disease – managed to maintain his kind heart and angelic disposition.

  • Some Referred To Him As The "Ugliest Man In The World"

    Photo: Anonymous / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Tillet was known to have a sweet disposition, but this hardly deterred critics of his appearance. George Macricostas, another wrestler, is rumored to have exclaimed to his friend, Karl Pojello, "Karl, I have just seen the ugliest man in the world." 

    • He Appeared In A 1935 French Film Called Princesse Tam Tam

      Video: YouTube

      Though little is known about Tillet's involvement in this 1935 Josephine Baker film, he appeared uncredited as a bar patron during one of the film's musical numbers.