Robert Pershing Wadlow was born in February, 1918 in Alton, Illinois and was the tallest person in recorded history. He reached a height of 8 ft, 11.1 inches. Though normal height and weight at birth, Robert began growing rapidly in his first few months of life, and was over five feet tall at age 4. By the time he was eight years old, he was already taller than his father.
After graduating high school, he traveled briefly with the Ringling Brothers Circus and helped promote the International Shoe Company as a paid sponsor. Despite having limited use of his legs and having to rely on reinforced braces to walk, Wadlow refused to use a wheelchair. He continued to grow in his last year of life and was measured as the tallest person on record 18 days before his death at age 22. He was affectionately known a the "Gentle Giant" for his kind nature, and his impact on people was demonstrated by the fact that 27,000 people attended his funeral.
He had a short, tough life, but used his height to see the world and help his family. We wanted to share a few photos to give you a closer look at his life.
At age 12, Wadlow learned he had a hyperactive pituitary gland that caused his incredible growth. In this photo, world heavyweight champion Primo Carnera playfully punches a then 6-foot-11 Wadlow.
Robert Wadlow with his father, Harold circa 1935
The full Wadlow family in 1935