The Story of Robert Wadlow
The World's Tallest Man
by Dan Brannan
“Boy Giant” is a biography about Robert Wadlow, who grew to 8-foot-11½ inches and was the tallest man to ever walk the face of the earth. “Boy Giant” is written by Dan Brannan, executive editor of The Telegraph newspaper in Alton, Ill.
Brannan has written three other books, including one about his life with insulin dependent diabetes. The diabetes book was endorsed and distributed by the National American Diabetes Association in Alexandria, Va. The book was also distributed nationwide in Barnes & Noble stores.
Robert was the world’s tallest man, but also a kind, thoughtful, spiritual person. He was a successful student, a Boy Scout and even attended college for a year.
Wadlow, an Alton, Ill., native, became an international phenomenon since his death at age 22 on July 15, 1940. He became the Guinness Book of Records’ tallest man in 1937. In 1980, the Alton Museum of History & Art opened an exhibit on Robert Wadlow. Three years later, a major community effort to build a statue for Robert Wadlow began and on Oct. 20, 1985, it was unveiled in Upper Alton. Some interesting Wadlow facts are:
- The Robert Wadlow web site today is one of the most visited in the world. The web site was established in 1996. Since that time it has had thousands of visitors. The Wadlow web site went on to be named as one of the Yahoo Picks of the Year and was voted fourth out of 52 top weekly Picks of the Year in 1998.
- In 1996, Oprah Winfrey did a segment on town oddities that featured Robert Wadlow. Winfrey stood next to a life-size cutout of the world’s tallest man, which dwarfed her and talked of how Robert was born and lived in Alton.
- On Aug. 18, 1998, Wadlow’s life was center stage on “Guinness World Records: Primetime” on FOX Channel 2. In late December 1999, “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” television series did a taping for the TBS Network in Alton about Robert Wadlow.
- In May 2000, the British Broadcasting Company came to Alton to shoot footage on Wadlow. The BBC was taping for a segment on the Discovery Channel, which aired in the fall 2000.
- Wadlow lived the typical American boy’s life during the 1920s and 1930s, participating in the Young Men’s Christian Association, Boy Scouts of America, Order of DeMolay, Main Street Methodist Church and Franklin Masonic Lodge in Alton.
- At age 22, Wadlow developed an infection in his leg and one week later he died in Mainstee, Mich. Wadlow’s funeral was attended by 27,000 people. Wadlow’s parents buried their son’s body under a vault of concrete because of fears his body would be examined for medical research.
- The Alton Museum was founded in 1971, but didn’t begin a Wadlow display until 1980, after Robert Wadlow’s mother, Addie, died.
If you are interested in the purchase of “Boy Giant” visit the Alton Museum of History and Art or send an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and include a credit card number, mailing address and phone number. Send checks or money orders for “Boy Giant” to the Alton Museum of History and Art, 2809 College Ave., Alton, IL 62002. Price is $19.95 + $4.42 for tax + $4.00 for shipping and handling. For quantity discounts, call the museum at 618-463-2763. Or order through our online Gift Shop here.