André the Giant was a French professional wrestler and actor who had a net worth of $5 million at the time of his death in 1993. After adjusting for inflation that’s equal to $10 million in today’s dollars. His real name was André René Roussimoff, and he stood over seven feet tall due to the medical condition of gigantism. Aside from his stage name, André was also frequently referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” He began his career in 1966, wrestling in Europe. André then relocated to North America in the early 70s, joining the WWF. He also fought for the New Japan Pro-Wrestling organization.
By the 1980s, Roussimoff was a globally-renowned figure. He was especially famous for his long-standing feud with Hulk Hogan, whom he defeated to claim the WWF Championship in 1988. After leaving the WWF, he focused mostly on All Japan Pro-Wrestling until his death in 1993. André also appeared in a number of films, perhaps most notably 1987’s “The Princess Bride.” After his passing, he was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame. To this day, he is considered a pop culture icon.
André René Roussimoff was born on May 19th of 1946 in Coulommiers, Seine-et-Marne, France. Raised by Bulgarian and Polish immigrants alongside four siblings, André weighed 13 pounds at birth and quickly displayed symptoms of gigantism. He later stated that while his parents were of an average height, his grandfather was 7’8. By the time he reached the age of 12, Roussimoff stood at 6’3. He exhibited some skill in mathematics as a child, before graduating from secondary education and working on his father’s farm. He also became close with Samuel Beckett during the 50s. However, manual labor was not satisfying for André, and he eventually packed up his bags and moved to Paris at the age of 18.
After arriving in Paris, he was taught how to perform as a professional wrestler by a local promoter. In 1966, he connected with a Canadian promoter who later became his business manager and adviser. André then expanded, wrestling in the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa. By 1970, he had made his Japanese debut with International Wrestling Enterprise, fighting under the stage name “Monster Roussimoff.” By this point, doctors had confirmed that he was suffering from acromegaly.
His next stop was in Montreal, Canada, where he quickly became a popular figure. Eventually, he came to the attention of Vince McMahon, who advised that André change up his image. McMahon recommended that Roussimoff stop performing agile manoeuvers, such as dropkicks. This was to create the sense that he was a slow, lumbering giant. It was Vince that started billing Roussimoff as “André the Giant” for the first time.
From this point onwards, André the Giant became a global phenomenon, primarily fighting in the WWF. After making his debut in 1973, he went on to become the WWF champion while establishing rivalries with a number of notable wrestlers. These included Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts, and many others. From the 1990s onwards, his appearances became less frequent, and he finished his career in World Championship Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling.
In addition to his successful wrestling career, André the Giant appeared in a wide range of films and television series over the years. After appearing in a number of French films, he first made his American acting debut with the TV series “The Six Million Dollar Man,” playing the role of a Sasquatch. Over the years, he appeared in a number of other TV shows, such as “The Greatest American Hero,” “B.J. and the Bear,” “The Fall Guy,” and “Zorro.”
He became especially active in film towards the end of his life and career. In 1984, he appeared (uncredited) in “Conan the Destroyer.” That year, he also booked a role in “Micki & Maude.” His favorite and perhaps most notable role came in 1987, when he played Fezzik in “The Princess Bride.” His last film, “Trading Mom,” was released one year after his death in 1994.
In 1974, it was reported that Roussimoff was the highest-paid wrestler at that time, with an annual salary of about $400,000 during the early 70s.
During the early 70s, André had a child with a woman named Jean Christensen. This was André’s only child – a daughter named Robin. However, Robin allegedly saw her father only five times throughout her entire life.
André the Giant has often been referred to as the “greatest drunk on Earth.” His alcohol tolerance was so high that he regularly drank over 100 beers in a single sitting. Before one famous wrestling match, he allegedly drank 14 bottles of wine.
André the Giant suffered from gigantism caused by excessive amounts of growth hormone. This later resulted in acromegaly. These medical conditions likely caused significant issues for Roussimoff, including joint pain, high blood pressure, and vision problems. Acromegaly also typically results in a significantly shorter lifespan, although this can be addressed somewhat with medical treatment.
Roussimoff died of congestive heart failure in his early 40s in 1993. He passed away in a Paris hotel room and was discovered by his chauffeur the next morning. Tragically, he was actually visiting Paris to attend his father’s funeral. His last day was spent playing cards with some of his oldest friends. He also left his entire estate to his only child, Robin.
|Date of Birth:
|May 19, 1946 – Jan 27, 1993 (46 years old)
|7 ft 4 in (2.24 m)