Robert Pershing Wadlow was a medical marvel. He was a gentle giant whose stature was something to behold. He measured in at a truly staggering 8’11.” He was known as the ‘Alton Giant’ and the ‘Giant of Illinois.’
Wadlow was born in Alton, Illinois in February of 1918. By the time he turned 8 years old he was already taller than his father. By the time of his death in 1940 at the very young age of 22, Wadlow had surpassed John Rogan as the tallest person ever, a distinction he still holds to this day.
In addition to standing at 8’11” Wadlow weighed in at 490 pounds. His incredible height was do to hyperplasia of his pituitary gland, causing very high levels of human growth hormones in his body.
Wadlow became a celebrity when he went on tour with the Ringling Brothers circus in 1936. He would continue to tour, make public appearances, and promote products until he fell ill from an infection. Wallow ultimately succumbed to the infection and died in his sleep on July 15th, 1940.
In the extremely rare footage below, Wadlow is seen leaving a building. He stops to talk to the crowd as they stand in awe of him. Spectators mill about, comparing their own stature to his. It is hard not to be speechless when watching the footage as Wadlow completely towers over everyone he comes into contact with.