André René Roussimoff died 20 years ago today. Who was André Roussimoff? He was, you might say, a giant in his field.
Born in France in 1946, young Roussimoff began life simply – and small – enough. But by his 12th birthday, he had grown to 6’3” and 240 lbs (too big for the bus, he was driven to school by his neighbor, playwright Samuel Beckett). As an adult, he would reach 7’4”, 500+ lbs and be known as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." Most of us know him simply as André the Giant.
André the Giant was a star of professional wrestling in its 1980s heyday, alongside big names like Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Bret Hart and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. In 1988, he won the WWF Championship, defeating another larger-than-life character, Hulk Hogan.
Around that same time, André gained a whole new group of fans who loved him for a very different reason… his role as good-hearted strongman Fezzik in 1987's The Princess Bride. Although a thug by profession, gentle giant Fezzik preferred helping to hurting… and liked to share a rhyme or two with friends.
André the Giant was only 46 years old when he died January 27, 1993, of congestive heart failure, a complication of the acromegaly that gave him his great size. His wrestling colleagues honored André later that year by making him the first inductee in the WWF Hall of Fame. Five years later, friend and Princess Bride co-star Billy Crystal paid homage to him with the movie My Giant, and his story was told in the 2007 film André: Heart of the Giant.
As for his fans, we too remember his heart as the biggest thing about him.
Written by Linnea Crowther and Jessica Campbell