How was the life of the tallest man in the history?
Photo: Time Magazine

Early Lif of Robert Wadlow - Tallest Man in the World Of All Time

Perhaps surprisingly, Robert entered the world no differently to most babies. He was born on 22 February 1918 to two regular-sized parents, weighing an unremarkable 3.85 kg (8.7 lb). But he rapidly started to shoot up, reaching an incredible 1.63 m (5 ft 4 in) by the age of five, by which time he was already wearing clothes intended for teenagers.

Aged eight, he overtook his 5-ft 11-in-tall (180.3-cm) tall father, Harold F. Wadlow, and towered over his four younger siblings. When most children were still being carried by their parents, Robert was able to lift his father up the stairs of their family home.

Sharing the same point of view, St.LouisPublicRadio indicated that despite his size, his childhood was fairly normal. In 1936, the gentle giant graduated from high school and enrolled in college with the intention of studying law.

Career of Tallest Man in the World Of All Time

After Wadlow graduated from Alton High School in 1936, he enrolled in nearby Shurtleff College, where he studied pre-law. But he only attended college for a year — by 1937, word had gotten out about the Alton Giant, and the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus recruited him for a national tour. When asked in a radio interview if he was annoyed when people stared at him, he calmly replied, "No, I just overlook them." The quiet, unassuming man took his new-found celebrity status in his stride, and used it to earn money from public appearances, according to Guinness World Records.

He also did a promotional tour with the International Show Company (now INTERCO), which agreed to make him shoes for free. This was a blessing for Robert, who had whopping 47-cm-long (18.5-ft) feet – the equivalent of a US size 37AA (UK size 36, roughly a European size 75) – the largest feet ever. His shoes could cost as much as $100, equal to $1,500 (£1,026) in today's currency.
Robert Wadlow: Tallest man ever

Robert Wadlow's feet. Photo:

Reason for Robert's extraordinary height

Doctors examined Robert and realised that his exceptional size was caused by hyperplasia of his pituitary gland. This condition causes an abnormally high level of the human growth hormone and Robert was never given any treatment to stop it.

Dr Donald Rau, Medical Consultant, Guinness World Records explained: "Robert Wadlow escaped the attention of surgeons, as they were not confident enough to operate on him. Therefore he might remain the tallest man for a very long time." With a staggering peak daily food consumption of 8,000 calories, he actually continued to grow taller right up until his death.

Since then, medical technology and treatment has advanced significantly and people who suffer from pituitary gigantism – such as Sultan Kösen, the tallest man living as of 2017 – are able to have surgery to halt the production of the growth hormone.

Death of The Tallest Man in the World Of All Time

Sadly, it was Robert's legs that caused his premature death, aged just 22 years old. He died at 1:30 a.m. on 15 July 1940 in a hotel in Manistee, Michigan, as a result of a septic blister on his right ankle caused by a brace, which had been poorly fitted only a week earlier.

The Alton Giant was then buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Alton, in an enormous coffin measuring 3.28 m (10 ft 9 in) long, 81 cm (32 in) wide and 76 cm (30 in) deep.

Legacy of The Tallest Man in the World Of All Time

In 1986, a life-size statue of Wadlow was erected on College Avenue in Alton, opposite the Alton Museum of History and Art, in honour of the city's most famous resident. There are also a number of real-size models of him in a variety of museums across the world.

Robert Wadlow: Tallest man ever

Robert Wadlow's statue. Photo:

His influence has even stretched into the music world: in 2005, American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens recorded a track titled "The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders", about Wadlow's life. The tallest man has always been a favo.

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