Andre the Giant, real name André Rene Roussimoff (Bulgarian: Андрей Рене Русимов; Polish: Andrzej Renat Russimow; (May 19, 1946 — January 27, 1993) was a professional wrestler well-known for his impressive sizenote Billed at 7'4" (224 cm) and around 500 pounds (226 kg), to be precise; exact measurements are difficult to find, in particular because Andre's condition meant he rarely stood straight, usually slouching. Most likely he was around 7-7'2 during his prime, and 6'10 or so once his weight and health problems began to take their toll.. You may also remember him as Fezzik from themotion picture adaptation of The Princess Bride.During his tenure in the WWF (or WWE as it is called now), he was dubbed "The Eighth Wonder of the World" due to his frame, and held a fifteen-year undefeated streak in the company (with the exception of disqualification and count-out losses). One of the most famous matches of his career was against Hulk Hogan for Hogan's WWF World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania III.note Andre had lost to the Original Sheik in Toronto in 1974, and to Antonio Inoki in Japan in 1986, but neither of these matches were included in WWECanon.Unfortunately, his great size was due to gigantism, and he suffered intense pain throughout his body, especially as he got older. On January 27, 1993, shortly following his retirement from professional wrestling, he died in his sleep from congestive heart failure. In his honor, the WWF made Andre the first inductee into the company's Hall of Fame, established that same year.As usual, That Other Wikihas a nice read-up on his life and career.
Afro Asskicker: At times earlier in his career, sporting an afro while wrestling in territories such as what is now known as WWC. Big John Studd shaved it off.
The Alcoholic: André. Loved. Liquor. Because of his size, he could easily outdrink everyone at whatever function he was at; the stories about his drinking really get into extreme territory. Just check that link for some of the best. When he had to go into surgery, he was so large that the anesthetist had to base dosing on what it took to get Andre drunk. He was told by friends that it took a 1.75l bottle of vodka to get him buzzed.
One wrestler related to the one time he did pass out drunk, when he was in a hotel. His sheer size meant that even the combined strength of the wrestlers couldn't move him. So they simply left him asleep on the floor of the hotel lobby overnight. The hotel clerk ran into him in the morning and was in shock. The amount of liquor needed for that is believed to be about 119 bottles of beer.
Apparently most of his meals consisted of a 6 pack of beer and at least one entire bottle of wine.
The Big Guy: He was called Andre The Giant for a very good reason.
A friend of Andre's tells the story of a dinner where he tried to pick up the check (Andre refused to let anyone else pay for his prodigious meals) while Andre was in the bathroom. He was speaking with the waiter when Andre returned, tucked his friend under his arm and firmly replaced him in his seat. This particular friend was not exactly a midget himself.
Blatant Lies: When he was placed in the ring with someone like Ernie Ladd (6'9", and promoters couldn't bump him up because he was a well-known pro football player), even the thick lifts in his boots weren't enough to keep up the myth of the 7'4" giant. When he visited the Mexican set of Conan the Destroyer and took a picture with 7'1" Wilt Chamberlain, Vince McMahon Sr. did everything in his power to keep the photo from being widely circulated as it revealed André the Giant is actually shorter than Wilt.
Bullying a Dragon: A group of men once hassled him in a bar. After chasing them out, he turned over the car while they were in it.
On Andre's side, he once told a racial joke aimed at Bad News Allen/Bad News Brown. Bad News became the only person who ever got Andre to back down from a fight.
Cassandra Truth: Likely the reason André was never charged for the above incident when he chased four guys out of a bar, then flipped their car over while they were in it. Four drunk guys talking about an angry giant would have been just a little hard to believe, especially if the cops thought the overturned car was due to their own intoxication.
Although an obvious set-up, André was having increasing health problems which slowed him down considerably. Hogan practically danced around him in the ring making the spectacle somewhat believable.
Andre was the generator of such moments for many other wrestlers back before Hogan. Hogan wasn't the first, but he was the first to do so with a national audience. Before that, Andre would go around to various territories and put over wrestlers by having them slam him. In addition, Hogan (back in 1980, when the Hulkster was a villian and Andre was the good guy) slammed the big guy at least twice.
Andre let Hogan retain the championship at WrestleMania III, as Hogan knew the giant could defeat him in the ring if he wanted, regardless of what had been decided beforehand. For Hulk Hogan, it was Andre choosing to put Hogan over that made it the greatest moment in his career.
In Real Life too. He kept a small farm where he would walk around and play with the animals because they didn't stare at him and Robin Wright says that he used to put his hand on her head to keep her warm during cold days on the set of The Princess Bride. Nearly every wrestler who worked for him, not to mention the people in the French village where he had grown up, had similar stories about him.