holds the record for being the tallest person in recorded history. Born on February 22, 1918, in Alton, Illinois, Wadlow reached an astounding height of 8 feet 11.1 inches (2.72 meters) before his untimely death at the age of 22. This article provides an overview of Wadlow’s life, struggles, medical condition, and family background.
Early Life and Family
Robert Pershing Wadlow was born to Harold Franklin Wadlow and Addie May Wadlow. He was the firstborn of five children and, despite his extraordinary height, was raised with love and care by his family. Wadlow’s parents were of average height, with his father standing at 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 meters) and his mother at 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 meters).
Wadlow’s unusual growth spurt was apparent from a young age. At six months old, he already weighed 30 pounds (13.6 kg), and by the age of eight, he had surpassed his father’s height. As Wadlow continued to grow, his family had to make several accommodations to ensure his comfort, such as providing custom-built furniture and modifying their home.
Medical Condition and Struggles
Wadlow’s extraordinary height was due to a condition called gigantism, which is caused by an overproduction of growth hormone. In Wadlow’s case, the excessive hormone production resulted from a pituitary gland tumor. As his body continued to grow at an unprecedented rate, Wadlow faced numerous challenges throughout his life.
One of the primary struggles Wadlow faced was mobility. His immense size led to the development of leg braces and custom-made shoes to help him walk. Despite these accommodations, Wadlow experienced significant discomfort and pain while moving around. Additionally, his extraordinary height attracted a great deal of public attention, which made it difficult for him to live a normal life.
Public Life and Career
Although Wadlow’s height made daily life challenging, it also provided him with unique opportunities. He gained fame as a national curiosity and began touring with the Ringling Brothers Circus in 1936, where he was billed as the “Tallest Man on Earth.” Wadlow later joined the International Shoe Company as a promotional representative, which provided him with custom-made shoes free of charge.
Throughout his life, Wadlow was known for his gentle and kind demeanor, earning him the nickname “Gentle Giant.” He was an active member of the Freemasons and the Order of DeMolay, where he participated in numerous charitable activities.
Wadlow’s life was tragically cut short on July 15, 1940, due to complications from an infection caused by a poorly-fitted leg brace. The infection led to septicemia, and despite emergency surgery and blood transfusions, Wadlow passed away at the age of 22. His funeral was attended by thousands of mourners, and his custom-made casket measured 10 feet 9 inches (3.28 meters) long and weighed over 1,000 pounds (453 kg).
Robert Wadlow’s incredible height and gentle nature continue to fascinate people around the world. His legacy serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by those with extraordinary physical conditions and the importance of compassion and understanding in our everyday lives.
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