Hardin County, Illinois
Hardin County Independent News-Originally submitted by
Becky Curtis Brandt
photographs of Robert Wadlow were taken in Rosiclare
in the 1930's by my father, Fowler Curtis, Sr.
In one picture, he is ducking under the Rosiclare Cafe
sign to enter the restaurant. Mom (Mary Curtis)
told us that once inside the owner locked the door and
pulled the shades, so Robert could eat in peace
without the crowd that followed him everywhere.
At that time they didn't know they were looking at the
world's tallest man, who holds that record still
today. In the other picture, he is standing with
average height people who come about to his waist.
Pershing Wadlow was born in Alton, IL., February 1,
1918. His weight and size at birth were
normal. He soon started to grow at a fantastic
rate. By his eighth birthday he was six feet
tall and weighed 195 pounds. At 18 he surpassed
the then world record held by an Irish man who died in
had an above average I. Q. and after high school
attended college for a year, but due to his constant
growth it soon became too difficult to fit in.
In his youth he had led an active life and joined the
boy scouts, the order of the DeMolay, the Alton Main
Street Methodist Church, and Franklin Masonic Lodge.
clothing had to be custom made and his size 37AAA
shoes cost $100, a fortune in the 1930's.
International Shoe Company offered to make his shoes
fee and hired him to make good will tours for the
company. His father removed the front seat of
the car so Robert could sit in the back seat and
stretch out his very long legs. They covered
300,000 miles from town to town across the United
States this way. When they stopped for the night
he was accommodated with three double beds pushed
together, and he slept on them sideways. It is
said he had a happy and kind personality, and was
known as the gentle giant.
always had problems with his feet and legs having
little feeling in his feet. He leaned on a cane
most of the time. In July, 1940, while on tour
in Chicago he developed a blister on his foot that
became infected. Within a few days the deadly
infection spread through his body and he died July 15,
1940 at the age of 22. At the time of his death
he was eight feet, 11.1 inches tall and weighed 420
coincidence of fate, 15 years after Robert's death and
267 miles from Alton, IL, Sandy Allen was born in
Shelbyville, IN in 1955. She now holds the
record of world's tallest woman. In the 1970's,
she underwent surgery for a disorder of the pituitary
gland that stopped her uncontrollable growth at seven
feet, seven inches. It is thought the same
disorder caused Robert's great height though it wasn't
known about in his lifetime. Miss Allen now
resides in Indianapolis, IN.
Wadlow is buried in his hometown of Alton, IL.
books were written about Wadlow, The Boy Giant
and The Gentle Giant.
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