André the Giant

Biography

André "The Giant" Roussimoff (May 19, 1946 – January 27, 1993), best known as André the Giant, was a French professional wrestler and actor. "The Official Site of André the Giant" claims he was 7' 4"[2]. His great size was a result of a condition known as acromegaly, and led to him being dubbed "The Eighth Wonder of the World."[3][4] In World Wrestling Federation (WWF), Rousimoff was WWF Champion. In 1993 he was the first inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame. Rousimoff was one of the most famous professional wrestlers of the 1970s and 1980s, and was involved in a legendary match with Hulk Hogan in 1987 at WrestleMania III. Birth and childhood Andre René Roussimoff was born in Coulommiers, France, to Boris and Marianne Roussimoff, who were of Bulgarian and Polish descent, respectively. He was the third of five children. Roussimoff was a good student but left school after 8th grade because he did not feel that it was important to have a high school education to live and work on a farm that was not his own. As an adolescent, he worked on the farm, completed an apprenticeship in woodworking, then worked in a factory that manufactured engines for hay baling machines, but none of these jobs brought him any satisfaction. Roussimoff was drafted into France's peacetime army, but was rejected during his physical because there were no shoes big enough to fit him.[citation needed]. Career Roussimoff was discovered by Lord Alfred Hayes, a wrestling promoter, and left home as a teenager to become a wrestler in Paris. He worked as a mover during the day, to pay his expenses, and trained in the ring at night. However, it was difficult to find wrestlers who were willing to train with him because of his size and strength. In 1964, Édouard Carpentier, a well-known French wrestler, agreed to train with him. Roussimoff was billed as "Géant Ferré", the name of a legendary French lumberjack, and quickly made a name for himself. For the next few years, he wrestled in arenas and carnivals in Europe and Africa. By the time he was 21, he was a European wrestling star.[citation needed] In 1969, Édouard Carpentier offered to bring Roussimoff to North America, but he had already signed to wrestle in Japan, where he was billed as "Monster Roussimoff". While he was in Japan, a doctor there diagnosed him with acromegaly, but Roussimoff refused to accept either the diagnosis of or treatment for this condition.[citation needed] After performing in Japan, Roussimoff followed Carpentier to Montreal, Canada, where he was an immediate success. However, promoters eventually ran out of plausible opponents to fight him and, as his novelty wore off, gate receipts dwindled. Desperate, Carpentier reached out to Vincent J. McMahon and his son, Vince McMahon, Jr. for help. They suggested that Roussimoff have a schedule that purely involved travel, so he would not wear out his welcome in any one area. They also suggested that he be billed as "André the Giant" for his North American audiences.[citation needed] Roussimoff also competed throughout various territories. Professional Wrestling Career (1973–1992) Face run (1973-1987) On March 26, 1973, André made his WWF debut as a "face," short for babyface or "good guy", defeating Buddy Wolfe in New York's Madison Square Garden. He was billed early in his career at a height of 6 ft 10 in (2.08m) and 7 ft (2.13m); this was enlarged in the early 1970s to 7 ft 4 in (2.24m) and sometimes 7 ft 5 in (2.26 m) with a weight that ranged from 309 lb (140 kg) to 550 lb (249 kg). His actual height is contested, and there has been much speculation and debate over the issue. Jim Duggan and Bobby Heenan maintain that his kayfabe height was correct. Wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer claims André was measured at 6 ft 9 ¾ in 1974 by a French athletic commission at age 28, Meltzer also estimated André at 6 ft 11 ½ in (2.12 m) when comparing him to fellow Conan the Destroyer star Wilt Chamberlain in 1984. However, Mike Mooneyham, another wrestling journalist, maintained in his obituary of André in 1994 that André was 7 ft 2 in when he began wrestling. Chuck Wepner's manager said André made the 6 ft 5 ½ in Wepner look like a baby, dwarfed beside André. Nevertheless, the sight of him alone was enough to draw huge crowds during a time when there were only a handful of wrestlers over 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m); his condition, which included symptoms such as enlarged hands and feet and exaggerated facial features (acromegaly), likely aided the visual perception of him appearing larger than he actually was. André also had an abnormally large wrist, at 13", which is indicative of overall bone structure.[5] He branched out into acting in the 1970s and 1980s, playing a Sasquatch ("Bigfoot") on the 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man and the character Fezzik in The Princess Bride. By the time the chairman of the (renamed) World Wrestling Federation, Vincent K. McMahon, began to expand his promotion to the national level in the early 1980s, André wrestled exclusively for WWF in the USA, while still holding international engagements. He was offered a professional American football contract with the Washington Redskins after a tryout in 1974 and seriously considered it, but turned it down, reasoning that he could make far more money wrestling.[citation needed] Before being signed to WWF, André had wrestled in Japan. It was here that a doctor diagnosed Roussimoff with his condition and told him that those with the same problem were generally lucky to reach 40 years of age.[citation needed] André was one of WWF's most beloved "babyfaces" throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, the legend that for 15 years had never lost by pinfall or submission in a WWF ring before being pinned by Hulk Hogan on March 29, 1987 at WrestleMania III. However André actually had lost cleanly in matches outside of the parameters of WWF; a pinfall loss in Mexico to El Canek in 1984 and in Japan a submission loss to Antonio Inoki in 1986, as well as a controversial no-contest finish against Akira Maeda, who used heel shoot-style tactics, breaking kayfabe to nullify André's considerable size advantage. He also went sixty-minute time limit draws with the two other major world champions of the day, Harley Race and Nick Bockwinkel. André had memorable clashes all over the world with a variety of tough, rugged opponents. Among his chief rivals in the ring: The Sheik (who gained a deathmatch win over the Frenchman in 1974 with the help of his fireball), Abdullah the Butcher, Stan Hansen, Ernie Ladd, and a young Hulk Hogan, who first met André in 1978 during his rookie years in the deep South. Hogan and André would go on to have one of the great WWF feuds of 1980, peaking in front of 36,295 fans at the Showdown at Shea event on August 9, 1980 in Flushing, New York's Shea Stadium. One of André's most bitter feuds pitted him against the Mongolian terror Killer Khan, who was managed by Fred Blassie. According to the storyline, Khan had broken André's ankle during a match in Rochester, New York by leaping off the top rope and crashing down upon it with his knee-drop. After a stay at Beth-Israel Hospital in Boston, André returned with payback on his mind. On November 14, 1981 at the Philadelphia Spectrum, André exacted revenge by destroying Killer Khan in what was billed as a "Mongolian Stretcher Match", in which the loser must be taken to the dressing room on a stretcher. In reality, André had snapped his ankle getting out of bed one morning. The injury and subsequent rehabilitation was worked into the existing André/Khan storyline. Another memorable André feud involved a man who considered himself to be "the true giant" of wrestling: the 6 ft 10 in, 364 lb (165 kg) Big John Studd. Throughout the early to mid-1980s, André and Studd fought all over the world, battling to try and determine who the real giant of wrestling was. In December 1984, Studd took the feud to a new level, when he and partner Ken Patera knocked out André during a televised tag team match and proceeded to cut off André's famous long locks (Big Show, Kurt Angle, Mark Jindrak, and Luther Reigns would duplicate the angle nearly 20 years later). André had the last laugh at the first WrestleMania on March 31, 1985 at Madison Square Garden. André conquered Studd in a $15,000 Body-slam Challenge. After slamming Studd, he attempted to give the $15,000 prize to the fans, before having the bag stolen from him by his future manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. The following year, at WrestleMania 2 (April 7, 1986), André continued to display his dominance by winning a twenty-man battle royal that featured top NFL stars and wrestlers. André last eliminated Bret Hart to win the contest. Afterwards, André continued his feud with Studd and King Kong Bundy. André was suspended after a no-show; he returned under a mask as "The Giant Machine" part of a team with "Big Machine" (Robert Windham) and "Super Machine" (Bill Eadie). (The Machines gimmick was copied from New Japan Pro Wrestling character "Super Strong Machine", played by Japanese wrestler Junji Hirata.)[6] Soon afterwards, Giant Machine disappeared, and André was reinstated, to the approval of Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. Heel run (1987-1990) and later years Feud with Hulk Hogan André's image was turned to that of a villainous heel in 1987 so that he could face Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 3. In early 1987, Hogan was presented a trophy for being the WWF World Heavyweight Champion for three years. André came out to congratulate him. Shortly afterwards, André was presented a slightly smaller trophy for being "undefeated in WWF for fifteen years." In actuality, André had suffered a handful of countout and disqualification losses in WWF but had never been pinned or forced to submit in a WWF ring. Hogan came out to congratulate André and ended up being the focal point of the interview. A visibly annoyed André walked out in the midst of Hogan's speech. Then, on an edition of "Piper's Pit", Hogan was confronted by Heenan. Heenan announced that his new protege was André. André then challenged Hogan to a title match at WrestleMania III, ripping the t-shirt and crucifix from Hogan. It was at WrestleMania III that the public first really saw the pain that André was going through. By this stage he weighed in at about 560 pounds, and his bones and joints were finding it hard supporting such a huge weight. After recent back surgery, he was also wearing a brace underneath his wrestling singlet. Hogan won the match after dropping André with a body slam, followed by Hogan's running leg drop finisher. (Years later, Hogan stated that André was so heavy, he felt more like 700 pounds, and that he actually tore his lateral muscle slamming him.) Another famous tall-tale about the match is that "no one knew" if André would lose the match. While mostly false, WWE owner Vince McMahon has stated in the past that he believed if Hogan had either purposely or accidentally disrespected André that night, there was no way André would have allowed Hogan to win the match, no matter what had been agreed to. Aside from that possibility, André had agreed to lose the match some time before, mostly for health reasons, though he almost pinned Hogan (albeit unintentionally) in the early goings of the match. The Hogan-André face off at WrestleMania III was likely the most highly anticipated professional wrestling matchup in history – the apex of wrestling's most recent golden era. The event, held at the Pontiac Silverdome, had millions watching on pay-per-view and established great permanent value in the WrestleMania franchise. A reported 93,173 fans turned out as the WWF sold many standing room only tickets and added seats in the alleys to exceed the Silverdome's capacity of 80,331[citation needed]. Hogan defeated André in what some consider a passing of the torch from André, wrestling's biggest star of the 70s, to Hogan, wrestling's biggest star of the 80s. The feud between André and Hogan simmered during the summer of 1987, even as Roussimoff's health declined. The feud would begin heating up again when each wrestler was named the captain of rival teams at the inaugral Survivor Series event. Hogan was counted out, and André would go on to be the sole survivor of the match (pinning Bam Bam Bigelow). In the meantime, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase failed to persuade Hogan to sell him the WWF World Championship. After failing to defeat Hogan in a subsequent series of matches, DiBiase turned to André to win it for him. Acting as his hired gun, André won the WWF title from Hogan on February 5, 1988 in a match where it was later revealed appointed referee Dave Hebner was "detained backstage", and a replacement who DiBiase paid to get plastic surgery to look like Dave (in reality, his twin brother Earl Hebner), made a three count on Hogan while his shoulders were off the mat. After winning, André "sold" the title to DiBiase, which transaction was declared invalid by then- WWF President Jack Tunney and the title was vacated. This was shown on WWF's NBC program The Main Event (usually seen Saturdays as Saturday Night's Main Event). André famously mistakenly called the WWF Championship the "WWF Tag Team Championship." At WrestleMania IV, André and Hulk Hogan fought to a double disqualification in a WWF title tournament match (with the idea in the storyline saying that André was again working on DiBiase's behalf in giving DiBiase a clearer path in the tournament). Afterwards, André and Hogan's feud died down after a brutal steel cage match held at WrestleFest on July 31, 1988 in Milwaukee. He and DiBiase also wrestled Hogan and Randy "Macho Man" Savage in the main event of SummerSlam 1988; the DiBiase-André team lost, despite having an apparently favorable referee in Jesse "the Body" Ventura. During the summer and fall of 1988, André also became involved in a heated feud with "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, and began wrestling Savage for the title.[citation needed] André's next major feud was against Jake "The Snake" Roberts. In this storyline, it was said André was deathly afraid of snakes, something Roberts exposed on Saturday Night's Main Event when he threw his snake, Damien, on the frightened André; as a result, André suffered a (kayfabe) mild heart attack and vowed revenge. During the next few weeks, Roberts frequently walked to ringside during André's matches, causing him to run from the ring in fright (since he knew what was inside the bag). Throughout their feud (which culminated at WrestleMania V), Roberts constantly used Damien to gain a psychological edge over the much larger and stronger André. During the late summer and fall of 1989, André engaged in a brief feud with then-Intercontinental champion The Ultimate Warrior, wherein the younger Warrior regularly squashed the aging André. Earlier in 1989, André and the returning Big John Studd reprised their feud, this time with Studd as a face and André as the heel. André won the World Tag Team Championship with his partner Haku (known collectively as The Colossal Connection) from Demolition on December 13, 1989. Managed by Bobby Heenan, they lost their titles at WrestleMania VI back to Demolition on April 1, 1990. After the match a furious Heenan slapped André, and he responded by knocking Heenan out, much to the delight of the fans. André went into the match as a heel, and left as a face. Post WrestleMania VI André continued to make appearances in the WWF throughout 1990 and 1991. His last major appearance was at the 1991 SummerSlam event, where he seconded The Bushwackers in their match against The Natural Disasters. After that he went back to Japan, this time for All Japan Pro Wrestling, where he briefly teamed with owner Giant Baba. André continued to compete in tag team matches, primarily in Japan and Mexico, until the end of 1992.[citation needed] Outside wrestling The disease that granted him his immense size also began to take its toll on his body. By the late 1980s, André was in constant, near-crippling pain, and his heart struggled to pump blood throughout his massive body. When he was not in front of a camera, he was usually in a wheelchair.[citation needed] André starred in several movies towards the end of his career, most notably as Fezzik in 1987's The Princess Bride, which was André's favourite role.[7] He had an unaccredited appearance in the 1984 film Conan the Destroyer as Dagoth, the resurrected horned giant god, who is killed by Conan, the character portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. In his final film, he appeared in something of a cameo role as a circus giant in the comedy Trading Mom, which was not released until the year after his death.[citation needed] World Championship Wrestling (1992) His last U.S. television appearance was in a brief interview on WCW's "Clash of the Champions 20" special that aired on TBS on September 2, 1992. Personal life Roussimoff had one daughter who was born in 1979. WWE referee Tim White mentioned in Roussimoff's A&E Biography episode that she lives somewhere in the Seattle area. In the A&E documentary, Arnold Skaaland mentions how André wished he could see a Broadway play. Arnold offered to buy tickets, but André then passed up the opportunity, citing how he was too big for the seats and that people behind him would not be able to see. This was cited as a principal reason for why André frequented taverns more than anywhere else. In the A&E Biography episode, Arnold Skaaland tells the story of when André was in a bar one night, four men came up to him and began harassing him about his size. At first, André attempted to avoid confrontation, but eventually he proceeded to chase the hecklers until they locked themselves in their car. André then grabbed the car and tilted it over to its side with the four people trapped inside. André was never arrested for the incident, presumably since local police officers had a hard time believing four inebriated men's story about an angry giant having overturned their car. André was arrested by the Linn County, Iowa sheriff in August 1989 and charged with assault after the 540-pound wrestler allegedly roughed up a local TV cameraman. The Smoking Gun As a child, André was referred to by his parents as Dédé and showed no signs of being the size that he would end up being. Actor Cary Elwes explains in his video diary of The Princess Bride that Samuel Beckett was a neighbor of the Roussimoff family while living in France. The Nobel Laureate would sometimes drive André to school. Screenwriter and author William Goldman once said that André loved going out for dinner, but regardless of who extended the invitation, he would always pay for the meal. One time, when one of his friends slipped away to give his credit card to the maître d', the friend felt himself being lifted off the ground, carried back to the table, and deposited back in his chair "like a little boy". Concluding, Goldman added that the friend in question was Arnold Schwarzenegger. Andre: Heart of the Giant is a movie about André's life and struggles in and out of the wrestling ring. Actors will play real life wrestlers, managers, promoters, and legends.[8] Death André died in his sleep on January 27, 1993, in a Paris hotel room[citation needed]. He was in Paris to attend the funeral for his father[citation needed]. It was later concluded that he died of congestive heart failure, a by-product of the growth hormone-secreting pituitary tumor he had much of his life and chose not to have treated[citation needed]. André's body was cremated in accordance with his wishes and his ashes scattered at his ranch in Ellerbe, North Carolina[citation needed]. According to his A&E Biography, André's wish to be cremated was almost not carried out, since a crematorium in France could not be found that could handle his large frame[citation needed].

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Person Photo

Birth Name

André René Roussimoff

Birth Place

Coulommiers, Seine-et-Marne, France

Birth Date

5/19/1946

Death Date

1/28/1993
Known For
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WWE: The Bret Hart Story

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE: Brock Lesnar: Here Comes the Pain

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE: The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WrestleMania III

Himself

Movie Poster

Ladies and Gentlemen, My Name Is Paul Heyman

Andre the Giant (archive footage)

Movie Poster

Bret '"Hit Man" Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was & The Best There Ever Will Be

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE: Best of WWE at Madison Square Garden

Andre the Giant (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE Best of Survivor Series 1987-1997

Himself

Movie Poster

WWE Royal Rumble

Andre the Giant (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE: The Spectacular Legacy of AWA

Himself (archive footage)

Starring In
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WWE Royal Rumble

Andre the Giant (archive footage) (uncredited)

Movie Poster

WWE Royal Rumble

Andre the Giant (archive footage)

Movie Poster

Ladies and Gentlemen, My Name Is Paul Heyman

Andre the Giant (archive footage)

Movie Poster

Legends of the Mid-South Wrestling

Andre the Giant (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE: Best of WWE at Madison Square Garden

Andre the Giant (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE: OMG! - The Top 50 Incidents in WWE History

Andre the Giant (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE: Top 50 Superstars of All Time

Andre the Giant (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE: Macho Madness - The Randy Savage Ultimate Collection

Andre the Giant (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE: The Rise and Fall of WCW

Andre the Giant (archive footage)

Movie Poster

Bret '"Hit Man" Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was & The Best There Ever Will Be

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE Nature Boy Ric Flair: The Definitive Collection

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE: Born to Controversy - The Roddy Piper Story

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE: The Spectacular Legacy of AWA

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE: The Bret Hart Story

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE: The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE Hall of Fame 2004

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE Judgment Day 2003

Andre the Giant (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE No Mercy 2003

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE: Brock Lesnar: Here Comes the Pain

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WWE - Hollywood Hulk Hogan - Hulk Still Rules

Andre the Giant (archive footage)

Movie Poster

Trading Mom

Giant

Movie Poster

WWF WrestleMania VII

Andre the Giant

Movie Poster

WWF WrestleMania V

Andre the Giant

Movie Poster

WWE - Survivor Series 1989 And 1990

Himself

Movie Poster

WWE - Royal Rumble 1 And 2

Himself

Movie Poster

WWE - Summerslam 88/89

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

WrestleMania III

Himself

Movie Poster

WWE Best of Survivor Series 1987-1997

Himself

Movie Poster

WWE - Wrestlemania 1 And 2

Himself

Movie Poster

Micki + Maude

Himself (Wrestler) (as Andre Rousimmoff)

Movie Poster

Conan the Destroyer

Dagoth (uncredited)

Movie Poster

L'Homme qui valait 3 milliards : Saison 1 - L'intégrale - 6 DVD

Bigfoot (2 episodes, 1976)

Movie Poster

Die 7 Masken des Judoka

Fighter

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