Robert Wadlow: Height, Shoe Size & Death of the World’s Tallest Man Ever

It is true that many didn’t know much about him (especially those born anytime between mid-nineteen century till date), and many who knew him or about him are very old now or are already dead, one thing remains unchanged and that is the fact that Robert Wadlow remains the tallest man in recorded history to walk the earth.

Although he died at a younger age of twenty-two, the testimonies gathered from Upper Alton – the neighborhood where he was born, raised, and went to school was that Robert was a very good and kind human being. Here are all the facts about the tallest man that ever lived; his height, shoe size, and cause of death.

Early Life

Rob was born in Alton, Illinois on the 22nd day of February 1918 to Harold Franklin and Addie May Wadlow as Robert Pershing Wadlow. He is the oldest of his parent’s five children. Wadlow’s siblings are Eugene, Helen, Betty Jean, and Harold Jr. his youngest and last surviving sibling Harold Jr. died in 2000.

“Alton Giant” as he would later be addressed as weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces at birth, which was normal for a baby boy but in no time, his parents began to notice his unusual growth.

By six months he weighed 30 pounds (14 kg), that is double the weight of an average six months baby boy. By the time he began to walk, he was weighing 40 pounds (18 kg), and by age eight, he was taller than his father. He was taller than all of his classmates that his elementary school had to make him a special desk. At age five, he was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 105 pounds (48 kg) and wore clothes meant for an older teenage boy.

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Bothered by his unusual growth, his parents sought medical help at Barnes Hospital a few weeks before to his twelveth birthday and it was at this point they learnt his growth wasn’t actually normal but was caused by a medical condition which caused an increase in his pituitary gland, thus, resulting in an abnormally high level of the growth hormone

By the time Robert Wadlow was leaving high school (Alton High School) in 1936, he was 8 ft 4 in (2.54 m). Growing up, Rob wanted to be an aviator but after high school, he enrolled at Shurtleff College with the intention of studying law but he never saw his dreams come through.

In 1936, Wadlow began a celebrity following his tour with the Ringling Brothers Circus. In 1938, he joined the International Shoe Company for a promotional tour, and in return, the company took care of his shoes free of charge.

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How Was Tall Robert Wadlow? – His Height, Shoe Size

Robert Wadlow

Being tall wasn’t all that easy for Rob, asides the difficulty of not being able to escape or hide from or in the crowd, the stares and questions, his size soon began to affect him as he needed leg braces to walk and suffered from a condition called Hypoesthesia.

In July 1940, Wadlow attended a festival at the Manistee National Forest where he sustained an injury on his ankle caused by a poorly fitting brace. The blister became infected and caused him a high fever. Doctors treated him to the best of their knowledge, but his case worsened due to another health condition he suffered – autoimmune disorder.

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How Did He Die?

On the 15th day of July 1940, just eleven days after sustaining the blisters, Robert Wadlow died in his sleep, he was just twenty-two years old.

A month before his death, doctor Cyril MacBryde and C. M. Charles from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri measured Robert Wadlow’s height at 8 ft 11.1 in (2.72 m). He beat John Rogan who was the tallest man at the time to become the tallest man ever recorded in history till date.

At death, Robert’s coffin was 10 feet 9 inches (3.28 m) long, weighed 1,000 pounds, which is 450 kg and was carried by 18 pallbearers. His remain was laid to rest at the Oakwood Cemetery, Upper Alton, Madison County, Illinois. The Giant of Illinois as he was also called, did not only make history as the world’s tallest man ever, but he also holds the world record for the biggest feet. He wore a 37 AA  sized shoes, that is 3/4 as the length of a newspaper page.

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