Tag Archives: Andre the Giant

A Forgettable Night In Tampa

St. Petersburg Independent – August 4, 1980
By Gene Taylor

TAMPA – With apologies to A. Lincoln: The world will little note, nor remember, the Last Tangle in Tampa Sunday night at Tampa Stadium.  But for 17,834 screaming fans, the thrill of seeing Dusty Rhodes almost winning the World Heavyweight Championship from Harley Race is not something they will soon forget. Continue reading

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Who You Calling Old-timer?

Orlando Sentinel – July 15, 2001
By Ric Russo

ESPM Classic Professional Wrestling Features Footage From The Heydays Of The Rough-and-tumble Giants.

Are you a fan of “old-school” professional wrestling?

Do you yearn for the days when grapplers with monikers such as Killer Kowalski, Moose Cholak, Gorgeous George and Andre the Giant ruled the ring? Continue reading

Tim Casts His Vote For Wrestling

Cedar Rapids IA Gazette – May 26, 1999
By Suzanne Barnes

Professional wrestling has had a headlock on Tim Burrow since he was a youngster.

And the wrestler who put the hold on him was Andre the Giant, the 7-foot 4- inch 540-pound professional wrestler Tim first spied from the fourth row of Chase Arena in St. Louis. Tim had gone to the match with his father. Continue reading

Rhodes Meets Super Destroyer Tonight

The Ledger – February 12, 1980

TAMPA – Dusty Rhodes and Andre the Giant meet Harley Race and Bugsy McGraw tonight at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in the Annual Gasparilla Spectacular. Continue reading

Wrestling Event Slated At CFCC

Ocala Star-Banner – April 11, 1984

Championship Wrestling from Florida will return to the Central Florida Community College gymnasium at 8 p.m. Saturday. Continue reading

Rick Flair’s Dirty Tricks Nearly Cost Him His Title

Evening Independent – April 11, 1984
By Gene Taylor

TAMPA – Rick Flair’s penchant for dirty tricks nearly lost him his National Wrestling Association (NWA) Heavyweight title last night at the Sun Dome against Billy Jack.  But as far as the fans were concerned, he was soundly trounced. Continue reading

Wrestling Rumbles With Worldly Wisdom

The Daily Cavalier – April 2, 1999
By Rawley Vaughan

I’d like to say some words in defense of professional wrestling. Continue reading

Andre a Giant Among Men

The Age – June 22, 1978
By Stephen Phillips

Andre the giant, the biggest man in the grunt and groan business of professional wrestling, bills himself as the eighth wonder of the world.

And standing in the monstrous shadow cast by his vast 231.3 kg (36 stone), 2.26 m (7 ft. 5 in.) frame, you are quick to agree.

He is 32, big, mean, rich and your typical food-loving Frenchman.

He can speak English but prefers to communicate through his manager Frank Valois or else fend off unwanted queries with one flick of his outsized hands.

What does a giant eat?  Does he have much trouble buying clothes?  How does he squeeze himself into those tight seats in jets to keep up with his equally tight international schedule?

“Uh!” he groaned in reply to the first question and the hand indicated that Mr. Valois would be taking command.

“Oh, Andre eats all the food he can get, after all he is the biggest athlete in the world,” Mr. Valois said.

World Championship Wrestling compere and former VFL great Ted Whitten elaborated.

I had breakfast with him at Sydney airport one morning.  Like a fool I offered to shout.  He ordered eight eggs, 12 sausages, lambs fry and bacon, fruit, two large pots of coffee and a dozen slices of toast,” Whitten said.

On Saturday night he makes his farewell Australian appearance at Festival Hall against Brute Bernard and another international baddie, J. J. Dillon.

On Sunday he will tuck himself into two first class seats on a Jumbo bound for New York.

Andre is the biggest attraction in world wrestling in more ways than one.  He makes $300,000 a year, owns restaurants in Montreal and his native France and sports a $10,000 watch surrounded by 59 diamonds.

How long will you continue wrestling, I asked.  “Uh!”  Another wave of the hand and Mr. Valois chipped in: “Oh, maybe 10 more years.”

A Giant Loss

Los Angeles Times – March 7, 1993
By Chris Dufresne

In the modern fable, the giant is felled not by a slingshot or a squadron of fighter planes, but by his heart.

Imagine that, a muscle taking Andre Rousimoff down.

He was Andre The Giant in life and thereafter, a wonder of the world and sometimes an imposition on the rest of us down below. When he laid his head down for the last time Jan. 27 in Paris, 12 days after he buried his father, Andre might have thought his burden over.

No more stooping through doorways, no more slack-jawed gapes at the sight of his huge head and hands, no more children running in fear.

No more business trips to undersized Japan, of all places, to pick up his oversized tailor-made clothes.

No more shoes, size 26.

Yet, Andre would pose problems even in death. When they finally busted down his hotel door in Paris to discover Andre dead, at age 46 of an apparent heart attack, the next thought was what to do with him.

The Giant instructed in his will that his body be cremated within 48 hours, the ashes to be sprinkled over his 200-acre ranch in Ellerbe, N.C.

Andre was born in Grenoble, France, spoke fluent French and wolfed down seven-course gourmet meals as though they were appetizers. He washed it all down with vats of expensive Burgundy but, in the end, his own country could not accommodate him.

The phone call, from France, rang at the Ellerbe ranch. The voice insisted there was not a crematorium large enough to handle The Giant, who was 6 feet 10 and 555 pounds when he died.

Could someone please come get The Giant?

Jackie Bernard, a longtime friend who lived at the ranch with her husband, Frenchy, flew overseas to arrange transport of Andre’s body back home to North Carolina.

There were no complications at the airport, although there was a time when even the planes were afraid of Andre. Frank Valois, Andre’s caretaker during The Giant’s barnstorming days as the world’s most famous professional wrestler in the 1970s, remembers that chartered flights were often grounded when Andre stepped on the Tarmac.

“Most of the time they didn’t even want to take him,” Valois recalls.

The plane took Andre this time. The last time.

Andre the Giant was cremated in North Carolina on Feb. 11, more than two weeks after he had requested.

Lucky for us, Andre was always a patient man.

“It’s a good thing he didn’t have a temper,” Valois says, “or there would have been a lot of accidents.”

In the final months, The Giant moved with great difficulty, having buckled under his own weight. He suffered from acromegaly, or “giantism,” a disease in which the body secretes large amounts of the growth hormone, causing continual growth to the head, hands and feet. Andre the Giant, who towered above most at nearly 7 feet, walked with a stoop near the end. He had undergone surgery in 1986 to relieve pressure to his weakened spine. To perform the procedure, surgeons in England had to construct oversized instruments.

Terry Funk, a pro wrestling great, toured Japan with Andre last November.

“He was in a great deal of pain by then,” Funk remembered.

Andre had shown Funk the X-rays of his recent knee surgeries.

“They had taken out huge chunks of bone,” Funk said. “I mean chunks.”

Andre, a man of moods, was at times a loner, especially near the end. He never married. A 13-year old daughter he fathered was never discussed. Because of his disease, doctors estimated Andre would not live to age 50. To some, it explained The Giant’s unfathomable ability to consume alcohol. His fate sealed, it was speculated, Andre drank to numb the reality. Except that when Andre stepped to the bar, reality never stood a chance.

Once, in the 1970s, Funk pulled up a bar-stool next to The Giant. “I swear he drank 100 beers one night in Amarillo, Texas,” Funk said. Frenchy Bernard, Andre’s closest friend at the time of his death, testifies he saw The Giant drink 72 double shots of vodka at one sitting.

Then, he stood up.

“And walked straighter than hell,” Bernard said.

Another time, Andre did not get up. It has been told that he passed out in a hotel lobby after drinking 119 beers. Too big to move, friends draped him with a piano cover and passed him off as furniture while The Giant slept it off.

In his younger years, Andre seemed resigned to his fate.

“He had it on his mind all the time, that he was going to die young,” Valois contends.

The longer he survived, though, the more Andre had doubts about his acromegaly.

“There were reports that said he did have it and reports that said he didn’t,” Jackie Bernard said. “He chose to believe that he didn’t.”

The Giant often spoke about what it would be like to be normal. He could not play the piano because one of his enormous fingers engaged three keys. His wrists, as thick as some lowland gorillas, measured a foot in circumference.

It bothered The Giant that he scared children.

“Often when I go to home of people who have small children, the children will run from me, even though they have seen me on television,” Andre once told a writer. “I understand why they do this, but it is a sad feeling for me, even so.”

During his heyday in the 1970s, when he was the most famous wrestler in the world, a label he would later surrender only to Hulk Hogan, Andre was earning an estimated $400,000 per year. He was an international celebrity.

He was a good enough athlete to have received a tryout offer from the Washington Redskins. Andre declined, apparently unwilling to take a pay cut. Although he never lifted weights, his strength was awesome.

“I would say he was the strongest man in the world,” Valois said. “You won’t believe this, but one time a guy had a flat tire and (Andre) just lifted the car up while he changed the wheel. It wasn’t a big car, but still, it was a car.”

Andre transcended the sometimes strange world of pro wrestling into the mainstream. He appeared on “The Tonight Show,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” and other shows.

Andre most cherished his performance as “Fezzik” the kindly giant in Rob Reiner’s 1987 film “The Princess Bride.”

Andre carried a videotape of the movie when he traveled.

On his November trip to Japan, a country in which he was worshiped, the Giant screened several showings of “The Princess Bride.”

“He loved that movie,” Funk said. “We’d watch it every third day. And everyone watched the movie. You didn’t say no.”

Andre was an anomaly in professional wrestling in that most of the incredible stories about him were true.

Yes, he really could pass a silver dollar through his ring. While other wrestlers changed their names and concocted outlandish personal histories to hone their images, it was enough for Andre to walk into a ring in his bikini wrestling briefs.

Andre’s friends held a memorial service at the Ellerbe ranch recently. Many of Andre’s friends in this country were unable to attend the original service for him, in France.

Had the service been open to the public, fans would have mobbed the celebrity wrestlers, which included Hogan, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Brutus Beefcake, the Fabulous Moolah, Ivan and Nikita Koloff, and World Wrestling Federation czar Vince McMahon.

But this time, there would be no gawkers. The service was by invitation only. A North Carolina Highway patrolman stood guard on the dirt road that leads to the 200-acre ranch. About 200 people came. Andre’s life might have seemed a circus.

But his death would not.

Andre the Giant, 46, Professional Wrestler

The New York Times – January 31, 1993

The professional wrestler Andre Rene Roussimoff, a native of France who was known to fans as Andre the Giant, died this week, apparently of a heart attack. He was 46.

The 7-foot-4-inch, 520-pound wrestler went to France two weeks ago to attend his father’s funeral, on the outskirts of Paris. He visited his family on Wednesday, then returned to his hotel room where he died, said a longtime friend, Frenchie Bernard.

The exact time of his death was not immediately known.

Mr. Roussimoff was born with acromegaly, a disorder marked by progressive enlargement of the head, face, hands, feet and chest because of excessive secretion of growth hormones.

In addition to wrestling, Mr. Roussimoff appeared in “The Princess Bride,” a film by Rob Reiner in the late 1980’s, playing a gentle giant, Fezzick.