Andre Rene Roussimoff died 20 years ago today. Who was Andre 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-feet-3-inches and 240 pounds (too big for the bus, he was driven to school by his neighbor, playwright Samuel Beckett). As an adult, he would reach 7-feet-4-inches, 500+ pounds and be known as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." Most of us know him simply as Andre the Giant.
Andre the Giant (Wikimedia Commons / John McKeon)
Andre 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.
Andre the Giant takes on King Kong Bundy (Wikimedia Commons / Ethan)
In 1988 he won the WWF Championship, defeating another larger-than-life character, Hulk Hogan.
Around that same time, Andre gained a whole new group of fans who loved him for a very different reason… his role as good-hearted strongman Fezzik in 1987 film The Princess Bride. Although a thug by profession, gentle giant Fezzik preferred helping to hurting. And he liked to share a rhyme or two with friends.
Andre the Giant was only 46 when he died Jan. 27, 1993, of congestive heart failure, a complication of the acromegaly that gave him his great size. His wrestling colleagues honored Andre 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 Andre: 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