Robert Pershing Wadlow – World’s tallest man ever in medical history

February 22, 1918, was the day when a healthy boy was born to mark his name in the history. He was a healthy and a normal baby named as Robert Wadlow born in Alton Illinois. No one was aware that his life has destined for him to become the world’s tallest man ever. He was an American and became famous as the world’s tallest man in medical history.

By the age of 5, he reached a height of 5 ft. 4 inches which is unbelievable but true. He had to wear the clothes intended for 17 years old. At the age of 8, he outgrew his own father reaching the height of 6 ft. 2 inches and weighing 90 kg. He was called an extraordinary giant.

This was indeed shocking. His parents tried to make his life normal and he was sent for treatment where doctors explained his condition by hyperplasia of his pituitary gland that results in an abnormally high level human growth in hormones and was incurable. However, his parents tried their best to make his life normal and let him feel like a normal human being providing him with all basic needs. They had to make a special desk for his school and special furniture for his home. He used to wear special custom-made 37AA size shoes. His clothes required 3 times the amount of fabric used to make a regular dress.

At the age of 13, he became the world’s tallest Boy scout in the history and wore a custom-made uniform. His tent and sleeping bag was modified according to his height.

Guinness World Record Holder

At the age of 18, he reached 8 ft 4 in breaking the record of world’s tallest man of that time.  His name was entered in Guinness World Record. Here his new journey started when he was noticed by Ringling Brothers and they invited him to join their traveling circus.  He appeared with them at Madison Square Garden and Boston Garden in the center ring dressed in his normal clothes. He became a true celebrity. People started loving him. He was nicknamed as “Gentle Giant” by his fans and lovers.

The Tallest Man becomes Popular

After 2 years he started promotional tours with an International Shoe Company. The shoe company provided him with his shoes free of charge. He continued participating in public advertising rationalizing it as his working in advertising and not being exhibited as a freak.

Wadlow was also a member order of DeMolay an organization for Young men. He was also a Freemason. He achieved several goals through the 22 years of his life.

It is said that throughout his life he suffered weakness in his legs and feet due to his growing height. He always used leg braces and cane to walk but never choose to get stick to a wheelchair.

A Sad Ending

On July 4, 1940, during a professional appearance ill-fitted braces irritated his ankle and caused a blister and infection. He was treated with blood transfusion and surgery which proved obstructive due to an autoimmune disorder. On July 15, 1940, he breathed his last. His coffin measured 10ft 9 inches long, 2 ft 8 in wide and 2 ft 6 in deep weighing about 450 kg. it was carried by 12 pallbearers and 8 assistance and was laid to rest in Oakwood Cemetery in Upper Alton Illinois.

It is also said that he continued to gain height until his death and he was measured 8 ft 11 inches just 18 days before his death. A life-size Bronze Statue of Robert Wadlow stands in his hometown of Alton Illinois.

One thought on “Robert Pershing Wadlow – World’s tallest man ever in medical history”

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