Andre the Giant is one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time. A global sports star before the term applied to his profession, the living mountain left a legendary mark on the world while he was alive. Stories of how much beer he could drink and steak he could eat in one sitting have become mythical. The people closest to him remember Andre as a prankster with a love for partying.
The real story of Andre the Giant is filled with humor, sadness, and incredible heart. His legacy is so extraordinary that he was the first and only inductee of the inaugural WWE Hall of Fame class!
He Scared Guard Dogs
Maxing out at over seven feet tall and 500 pounds, not many people have been more intimidating than Andre the Giant. Roger Sembazzia remembers one occasion when his trained guard dogs ran for cover at the sight of Andre.
Speaking with Sports Illustrated, Andre laughed, “these two dogs were supposed to be so mean… the dog got one look at me and ran the other way as fast as could go.” A towering inferno of a man, it’s not hard to blame the dogs. Andre wasn’t a threat in real life, though, he was a legendary drinker.
He Could Drink More Than 7,000 Calories In A Day
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Olympic powerlifter Terry Todd used to drink with Andre the Giant. According to his story, he learned early on not to match drinks with the famed wrestler. Todd witnessed the Giant regularly consume more than 7,000 calories of alcohol each day.
In 1981, Todd recalled that on a typical day Andre the Giant would drink an entire case of beer. He would wash that down with two full bottles of wine. For dessert, Andre would throw back up to eight shots of brandy. Once the time came for his second dessert, the Giant would consume at least six mixed drinks.
After Passing Out Drunk A Hotel Put A Velvet Rope Around Him
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After the first script read-through of The Princess Bride, Andre the Giant had too much drink and passed out in his hotel lobby. The story, recounted by co-star Cary Elwes, turned out to be the actors first of many drinking adventures with Andre.
Elwes says Andre the Giant’s drink of choice was “the American.” The cocktail is various liquors mixed in a pitcher. Andre would consume a number of these in one sitting. The night in question, he had a few too many and passed out. Unable to move the 550-pound star the hotel staff surrounded him with a velvet rope so other patrons wouldn’t trip over him.
Andre The Giant Wasn’t An Alcoholic, He Was In Severe Pain
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Suffering from acromegaly didn’t give Andre the Giant the luxury of living his life without pain. His body never stopped growing. Carrying so much extra weight on his back, Andre was always in incredible pain. Doctors performed several surgeries but never knew what pain medication to prescribe because of his size.
To deal with the pain, Andre the Giant drank. A lot. It was the only way he could feel comfortable. Incredibly, he rarely actually got drunk. On the set of The Princess Bride, he was never late, never slurred his speech, and never missed a line. Wait until you hear about his school bus adventures…
The School Bus Was Too Small
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At 12-years-old, Andre Rousimoff was 6’3″ and over 240 pounds. Taking the bus to school was not an option. He never fit. The only kind of vehicle he did fit in was a pick-up truck. Luckily enough his neighbor, Samuel Beckett, had just what he needed and was friends with his dad.
Beckett, no stranger to fame himself, was a renowned playwright. His most famous work is Waiting for Godot. On the car rides to school, however, Beckett and Roussimoff didn’t talk about the stage or the ring. They conversed about cricket, their one common interest. The experience was so strange for Beckett he ended up writing a play about it!
Andre Would Move Friend’s Cars As A Prank
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Always a jokester, one of Andre the Giant’s favorite pranks was to move friend’s cars when they weren’t looking. He was not getting in the car and driving away. Andre would pick up the vehicle and carry it to a new location. It was his way of getting back at friends who owned cars he could never fit it.
Where exactly would Andre the Giant leave the cars? It depended on how much fun he wanted to have. Sometimes he would only turn the vehicle around. Other more devious times he would place the car in small spaces between lamp posts and buildings.
He Was The First Member Of The WWE Hall Of Fame
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After his death in 1993, the WWE honored the life of Andre the Giant by creating the WWE Hall of Fame. Andre was the league’s only inductee that inaugural year and no ceremony was held. His induction took place posthumously on an episode of Monday Night Raw.
The next year WWE held their first induction ceremony. During the event, the commentator discussed Andre the Giant’s induction. Never intended to air on television, a condensed version was produced in 2015 for the WWE Network. It features plenty of footage of Andre’s signature Sitdown Splash and Double Underhook Suplex.
He Was Too Large To Enlist In The Army
At 19-years-old Andre was given a draft notice by the French Peace Time Army but was unable to enlist. Fate had other plans for the Giant and the army did not have any shoes that would fit him. He was also too long to fit in French bunks and too large to hide in trenches.
Andre’s failure to enlist allowed him to focus on wrestling. He trained in Paris at night and worked as a mover during the day. In 1963 he made his debut as a professional in the United Kingdom. Ten-years-later he made his WWE debut. Before coming to America he even wrestled in Japan!
He Discovered His Growth Disorder In Japan
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In 1970 Andre Roussimoff left the United Kingdom to wrestle in Japan for International Wrestling Enterprise. It was here he learned of his acromegaly. The adult form of gigantism, acromegaly affects the size of a person’s hands, feet, and face as human growth hormone is overproduced. The affliction caused Andre great bodily pain, but also gave him a massive advantage in the ring. Because of this, he refused to get corrective surgery.
Fighting in tag team and individual tournaments, “Monster Roussimoff” was one of the best. Soon after his debut, he was named tag team champion alongside Michael Nador. Three years later the “Monster” would become the “Giant” in the United States.
Andre Had A Literal Miracle Child
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Suffering from acromegaly meant Andre the Giant should have been sterile. Living to defy the odds, Andre had a daughter in 1979. When he died, Robin Christensen Rousimoff inherited his entire estate. When he was alive, Andre never got to know his daughter since he committed to living a life on the road.
The one time Robin was supposed to spend time with her father she backed out. Just 10-years-old, she was invited to meet Andre on his ranch in North Carolina. Wary about hanging out with a literal giant she didn’t know, Robin never ended up going. It was the last chance she would have to get to know him.
QVC Was His Not So Secret Addiction
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One of Andre the Giant’s greatest pleasures in life was buying stuff from QVC. Spending more time in North Carolina near the end of his life, Andre developed an addiction to the television shopping network. Shopping at home, Andre never had to worry about causing a scene in public, which he loathed.
He would reportedly spend hours in his custom-made recliners buying useless things from QVC. There was nothing he loved more than spending money, especially on family and friends. He always made it a point to pay for every dinner bill.
Andre Picked Up The Terminator For Buying Him A Meal
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Always preferring to give rather than take, Andre the Giant became upset after dinner with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Wilt Chamberlain. Late in the evening Arnold snuck off and paid for the meal. Walking back to their cars after, Andre decided to get revenge outside.
When they got to Arnold’s car, Andre picked Arnold up off the ground and placed him on his car. Towering more than a foot over Arnold, Andre had no problem pulling this move off! There is no report of whether he said, “I’ll be back” as he walked away.
His WWE Title Didn’t Count
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In 1988 Andre the Giant fought Hulk Hogan for the World Championship title and won. Unfortunately, the fight was rigged by “evil” rev Earn Hebner. Andre was forced to give the title belt back after just one minute. The title was left vacated and Andre never had another fair shot at it.
The circus that was Wrestlemania III, however, did attract the largest audience in the history of the sport. Bolstered by Andre’s gimmicky title match, 33 million people tuned into NBC on February 4 to watch in shock and awe.
Returning Home At 19 Andre’s Parents Didn’t Recognize Him
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When Andre Rousinmoff returned home at 19-years-old after five years away his parents didn’t recognize him. Because of his acromegaly, Andre grew to over seven feet tall and looked nothing like his former self. His parents admitted after they had seen him wrestle on TV as Jean Ferre without realizing it was their son.
The reunion, as told by Sports Illustrated in 1981, depicted Andre as lighthearted about the situation. Knowing his parents wouldn’t recognize him, he asked them a number of questions about his Rolls Royce until his father finally saw his son’s “twinkling eyes.”
Farting On Opponents Made Him Happy
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Andre the Giant, like most men, loved a good fart joke while he was alive. In one match against Jake “the Snake” Roberts, the Giants sat on the Snake’s face and let it rip. Roberts said after that the wind didn’t break for at least 30 seconds, adding, “Giant’s farts are for extremely long periods of time.”
Farting in the ring wasn’t the only way Andre would mess with his opponents. He enjoyed stepping on their hair if it was long. His greatest trick, though, was to wring the sweat from his singlet onto their face.
Andre And Randy Savage Feuded Over Baby Oil
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Randy “Macho Man” Savage would bathe himself in baby oil before fights. Andre the Giant hated baby oil so much his opponents wouldn’t use it during matches. Except for Randy Savage, who said, “Andre’s gimmick is being a giant and mine is baby oil.”
Savage’s refusal to give up baby oil affected the pair’s relationship outside the ring. Andre the Giant had very few real-life enemies, and Randy Savage was one of his biggest. The feud was immature, to say the least, but made for extra special sparks when the two met in the ring.
His Signature Black Singlet Hid A Back Brace
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Destroyed physically by acromegaly and years of wrestling, Andre the Giant underwent spinal surgery in 1986. To keep wrestling he needed to wear a back brace to support his figure. He hid the extra support under his iconic black singlet, which severely limited his mobility in the ring.
Ironically, some of Andre’s most famous fights were during this late-career period. His Title winning match against Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III is the most famous. If you watch the match closely you can see how limited Andre was in his movement and how much he relied on basic fighting moves instead of the flashier ones from his younger days.
In 1989 He Was Named “Most Embarrassing Wrestler”
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By the end of his WWE career, Andre the Giant had gained just about every achievement possible. His awards shelf was finally complete in 1989 when Wrestling Observers Newsletter named him the “Most Embarrassing Wrestler.” The award wasn’t given for anything embarrassing the Giant did. He received the honor for how he embarrassed his opponents.
One of his biggest embarrassments came against Demon. Before a match, Andre was signing autographs ringside for children. Demon attacked him out of nowhere. Andre grabbed him by the mask and threw him across the ring. Demon frantically grabbed a towel to cover his face and ran off.
The Giant’s Pocketbook Was Just As Big
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In 1974 the Guinness Book of World Records listed Andre the Giant as the highest-paid wrestler ever. At his peak in the 70’s. Andre was making $400,000 a year. Another million was added from outside sources such as sponsorships and television appearances.
Worth two million dollars, Andre the Giant lived a lavish lifestyle. He traveled in a customized van and always flew first class. And his 7,000 calories of alcohol a day was all high-end beer, wine, and spirits. For all the luxury in his life, there was just as much pain, so it’s comforting to know that Andre died peacefully in his sleep when it his time to leave the world.
Andre Died In Paris After Attending His Father’s Funeral
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In 1993, Andre the Giant received a call from Paris informing him about his father’s declining health. At the time, Andre’s health was declining just as rapidly. Shortly after attending his father’s funeral, Andre the Giant went to sleep in his hotel bed and never woke up. He was 46-years-old.
The official cause of death was congestive heart failure. After years of unbearable pain and heavy drinking, the Giant’s heart gave out on him. Choosing to be cremated after death, Andre’s ashes were just as big he was. His final weigh in, for the record, was 17 pounds.