Even if you’re not a wrestling fan or haven’t yet watched HBO’s highly-recommended Andre the Giant documentary, you know exactly who Andre The Giant was. His immense size and presence were followed by star-power that was even larger than the man himself.
We’ve compiled here details learned from the HBO Andre the Giant documentary while including stories that haven’t been heard anywhere else — until now!
HBO’s Andre the Giant documentary got a lot of people talking. The build-up to it was done really well, and it lived up to the hype. It provides a well-rounded view on Andre Roussimoff, the man in contrast to Andre the Giant, the performer.
Andre spent decades wrestling the globe. He amassed over five thousand matches across six continents during his 27-year career and immortalized himself forever in the process. He holds a place in the inaugural WWE Hall of Fame, which took place in 1993, two months after his tragic passing. Andre was the sole inductee of that first WWE Hall of Fame class, quite appropriately, as Andre the Giant was simply in a class of his own.
Both wrestling and celebrity personalities featured throughout the film and the insight from so many people that knew him along with a career and life timeline made it thrilling to watch.
More than a quarter-century has gone by since Andre’s passing, yet still, he’s frequently spoken about and remembered so fondly. Not only was Andre a pivotal figure within the wrestling industry, but he was also outside of it, too. Everything from his infamous drinking prowess to his prominent role in the film ‘The Princess Bride’, Andre the Giant truly left a mark on so many people. Here is Andre the Giant like you’ve never seen him before.
# 1 – Two Legends That Never Got Along
Brother of Macho Man Randy Savage, Lanny Poffo, and his new podcast ‘The Genius Cast’ just had a huge fifth episode dedicated solely to Andre the Giant. Andre was so captivating and will continue to be for generations to come, which is why, all this time later, we continue to get new insight into the man from fresh perspectives — people who had a personal relationship with him.
Lanny Poffo knew Andre for many years.
“Since this is The Genius Cast,” Lanny Poffo started at the beginning of his Andre the Giant-inspired episode, “let’s give the fans something special!”
And special is exactly what listeners got as Lanny Poffo shared unbelievable stories about Andre, many stories that weren’t shared in HBO’s Andre the Giant documentary, or anywhere else for that matter.
Lanny’s late brother, the legendary Macho Man Randy Savage, was a subject of discussion. Andre disdained Randy Savage for an odd reason.
“Randy and Andre did not get along, and it was all over baby oil!”
Lanny tried changing the situation by asking his brother, “Can’t you make an exception for Andre the Giant? You know, don’t wear baby oil when you wrestle him?”
Andre’s stubbornness to hate Randy over baby oil was matched with Randy’s stubbornness to not make any exceptions to stop wearing baby oil, even for just matches with Andre, The Genius revealed.
“They didn’t get along, but they had good matches. They weren’t pleasant matches, they weren’t fun matches for each other, but they were fun for the fans.”
Co-host JP Zarka mentioned that he heard stories that Andre could be stiff and brutalize opponents if he didn’t like you and asked Lanny about this. The answer fell victim to Randy Savage.
“Well, he would brutalize my brother whenever he felt like it, and Randy would just take it and refuse to give in about the baby oil.
“Randy hated to have his hair messed with, and Andre would always mess with his hair.”
Lanny continued, “Sometimes, Andre would stand on Randy’s hair and pull him up, leaving a clump of his hair in the ring. Randy was losing his hair during that time, and he was very sensitive about it, and a big clump of his hair would fall out in the ring. Randy hated that!”
If you were an enemy of Andre’s, you certainly knew about it. Lanny spoke of Randy’s resilience with Andre.
“The money was good, he just kept [working with Andre], and he just refused to stop his baby oil practices.”
In a CBS Sports article (which is a fantastic read, by the way), Andre’s daughter Robin described a time she met Macho Man, wanting to seek information and stories about her father.
“I met Randy Savage once, probably about 15 years ago or so,” Andre’s daughter said.
“I talked to him for a little bit because I was asking him some questions. At one point, he just looked at me, and he was like, ‘I wish I could tell you more, but your dad didn’t like me.’ He was like, ‘I had nothing but the utmost respect for him, but your dad did not like me.’”
It just wasn’t a friendship meant to be. All we can do is wonder if baby oil wasn’t involved if the two could’ve been friends. Lanny, however, got along really well with Andre and shared a heart-warming story about this. This story is to come later on!
# 2 – Andre the Giant’s Shoe Size
That boot above is indeed Andre’s. That’s a scary sight.
Before Andre’s shoe size is revealed, for comparison’s sake – The Big Show is a size 22 US, retired NBA basketball star Shaquille O’Neal is also size 22, and The Undertaker is a size 16.
In the HBO Andre the Giant documentary, you had the likes of Ric Flair talking about Andre’s size 24 shoes. Believe it or not, his shoes were slightly larger than that! Andre wore up to a size 26 for his wrestling boots. Massive!
The above boots are on display at The Rankin Museum of American Heritage, located in Ellerbe, North Carolina, which is where, as touched upon in HBO’s Andre the Giant documentary, his ranch resided. It’s a part of the ‘Andre The Giant Exhibit’ that opened at the museum in 2015. This is all thanks to Andre’s close friend Jackie McAuley, who still honors his legacy to this day. She was kind enough to donate memorabilia of Andre’s to the museum.
McCauley spoke with Your Daily Journal about the inspiration behind making this happen.
“I was reading a thread on the Internet a few years ago where fans of André’s were sad that there was no picture or monument of him in the town of Ellerbe.”
Jackie continued, “It really got to me, and I knew I couldn’t hold on to these items. I needed to let people see them.”
Ellerbe was a huge part of Andre’s last decade with us. This was home to him, a place that reminded him of his rural living back in France growing up, a place where the locals would treat him as any other regular person, something that Andre deeply craved. His ashes are scattered in Ellerbe, which is a testament to how much this town meant to him.
“He loved the feeling he had around Ellerbe,” McAuley said.
“It reminded him of the town he grew up in. The people here respected him, and he didn’t feel as if he was being stared at every time he went out in town.”
If you ever find yourself in Ellerbe, North Carolina, you owe it to yourself to go see these giant-sized boots for yourself!
# 3 – Andre the Giant and His Legendary Tolerance For Drinking
Andre the Giant was a legend in the ring, there’s no doubting that. That said, he was legendary at something entirely else outside of the squared circle.
It wasn’t just his sheer size that amazed people. He could do things that no other human on Earth could do. Andre was arguably the greatest drinker ever. Seriously. When a regular person says to a friend, “Would you like to go for a few beers tonight?” they probably mean three or four. Okay, maybe five or six. Let’s just say a low-key night drinking for Andre would be enough to put the average person to bed!
When he was really in the mood, Andre was known to drink over a hundred beers in one sitting.
Ric Flair remembers Andre drinking 106 beers in one night. “That’s Andre the Giant, brother!”
And with all that, the behemoth was said to show no signs of being drunk! Well, when he was conscious anyway. There was one time when Andre passed out in the middle of a hotel lobby. Being that he weighed an excessive amount more than most people, there was trouble taking him back to his hotel room.
This went down after a night working on The Princess Bride (we’ll be getting into that film later), and the giant went overboard even for his standards. Actor Cary Elwes who starred in the film, spoke to The Daily Beast about this particular night.
“They decided that there was no shifting him. There’s no shifting a 550-pound, 7-foot-4 giant, so they had a choice: either call the authorities, and they didn’t want that kind of publicity, or wait for him to wake up, which was the wiser decision.”
Andre had a piano cover draped over him until he woke up.
Hulk Hogan, in the HBO Andre the Giant documentary, also remembers once waking up to find Andre sleeping on the floor in the hotel lobby while on the road. This sort of thing wasn’t out of the ordinary.
Don’t let that fool you into thinking he would appear drunk when conscious., though
Cary Ewles clears that up:
“The man was extraordinary. He never even slurred his words or was tipsy! He was absolutely a man who could consume vast amounts of alcohol and not have it affect him at all. I’ve never seen anything like it. I went drinking with him after our first screening in New York, and I was sipping a beer all night—which he thought was very funny. There was no way I was going to compete with that because I knew he could consume 100 beers in one sitting.”
Unfortunately, Andre didn’t always drink for fun. He was a giant, and towards the end of his life, every day was a struggle. Alcohol was his medicine. It helped him through the pain.
# 4 – The True Height of Andre the Giant
As tall as Andre was, that height was exaggerated. This is a typical practice in professional wrestling. Andre was billed at the height of 7 feet, 4 inches tall (224 cm). Now, Andre was a very tall man, but he really wasn’t that tall.
In the HBO Andre the Giant documentary, Vince McMahon touches upon this and says that while not actually being 7’4”, he believes Andre was likely to be closer to 7-feet tall.
The last time Andre was officially measured was in France in the 1960s when he was 24 years old. On this occasion, he was measured at 6’9” (206 cm) – still, a tall height, just not quite the 7’4” stature he was billed to be at.
It’s not out of the question that Andre could’ve grown in height since that measurement took place given the acromegaly he suffered from, however, the real give-away to that theory is that Ernie Ladd was a rare case of a huge man who wrestled under his real height due to the fact he was a successful football player and his height was on record, so promoters didn’t bother exaggerating the billed height. Ernie was 6’9”. Whenever Andre wrestled Ernie, they appeared to be very similar in height, making it difficult to believe Andre’s 7’4” billing.
# 5 – ‘The Princess Bride’ meant so much to Andre that he made his friends watch it over, and over, and over again with him!
Andre was very fond of the iconic movie he starred in as ‘Fezzik’ in The Princess Bride.
He loved the movie itself, the cast, the environment, that feeling of respect amongst his peers, the way they treated him like anybody else. He loved everything about it. Andre felt at home when filming or spending time with the cast.
In the HBO Andre the Giant documentary, The Princess Bride director Rob Reiner remembers Andre auditioning for the part.
“He auditioned for the part, and I didn’t understand a single word he said. I didn’t understand anything. But, he was perfect for the part. He’s a giant!”
Before The Princess Bride was even released, Andre owned an advanced copy VHS tape of it. The movie meant so much to Andre, and he couldn’t wait to show his friends the film to get their thoughts on the movie and his performance in it.
Any of the friends that were shown The Princess Bride exclusively through Andre were some of the very first people to see the film. ‘The Genius’ Lanny Poffo on his Andre-inspired episode of The Genius Cast revealed he was the first to be shown the movie.
The way Andre approached Lanny about showing him the film was sweet. Andre asked Lanny to come to his room. He had never been invited into Andre’s room before, so he wasn’t exactly too sure what Andre had in mind, but he came along anyway. “When Andre asks, you come!”
Upon entering the room, Andre said, “Lanny, you can order anything you want from this menu, anything you want.” In true Andre spirit, he also asked Lanny to have a drink too.
Lanny was indulging on good food and some red wine with Andre, still wondering why Andre was doing all this – then his wondering was answered. This was all building up to Andre asking Lanny to watch The Princess Bride with him!
“He pulls out one of those VHS tapes,” Leaping Lanny noted.
“It was just us in the room. When it was over, I really thought it was a great movie; I loved it. Andre did a hell of a job; you gotta give it to him.”
Andre, presumably nervous about the answer, asked, “Lanny, what did you think of the movie?”
Lanny answered to the giant’s delight, “Andre, it was great.”
The curious and innocent nature of the giant continued as he pursued Lanny for further answers.
“Did you like my performance in the movie?” Andre asked. (Lanny puts on a great Andre impression for all of this)
Andre received his answer.
“Yes, I did. I loved it! You were great, excellent; no one could have played that better,” Lanny assured him.
Andre was so proud.
Showing his appreciation for Lanny, Andre replied, “Aw, thank you so much! This is very important to me, and I like you so much, and you’re always so nice!”
This was a complete contrast to how Andre felt about his brother, Randy.
A few days later, Lanny was asked to go to Andre’s room once again and order anything from the menu. Lanny joked that it was like Groundhog Day!
“He put it in, we watched the movie,” Lanny remembered.
“You watched it with him a second time?” co-host JP asked.
“No,” Lanny replied, “I’ve watched it about six times on six different days!”
Lanny definitely liked it, but not enough to watch it six times in such a short period of time!
Andre very well may have loved taking part in the movie just as much as wrestling. After all, the role ‘Fezzik’ was specifically written for Andre to play. His passion shined through. Well, the casting director did look at other big men to play a role in case plans fell through, but Andre was always the most desired to play the role.
Andre’s role as Fezzik complimented him perfectly, and he was so happy with how it turned out.
Lanny, at this point, trying to keep respectful by not have to say no to the giant, had to resort to sneaky methods to avoid watching the movie with him again.
“I decided to do the cowardly thing, and I hid from him!”
Lanny couldn’t always successfully hide, and whenever Andre did see him, the question was raised, “Lanny, where have you been? I want you to come and see the movie with me!”
“Oh, fuck…” Lanny would think to himself.
Andre loved that movie down to his core. He would get excited when his scenes were coming up and would point out when it was his time to grace the screen.
As for Lanny, he still recommends the film to his listeners. “There’s just no need to watch it six times in a short period of time!”
Make sure to take solace next time you watch the film in the knowledge that whenever you see Fezzik in a scene in the movie, Andre loved every moment of it. This was a time in his life where his pain was debilitating. This movie gave him so much happiness when he needed it most.
# 6 – Andre’s Food Intake Wasn’t That Insane
Given Andre’s legendary drinking stories, you would be excused to think that Andre had to eat excessive amounts of food to be satisfied. Surprisingly, this wasn’t the case.
In something not covered in HBO’s Andre the Giant documentary, his former handler and friend, former WWE referee, Tim White, said that if Andre was at a restaurant with him, he wanted the exact same portion of food that White got. There would be times where the waiters came out with his food in big portions, and Andre refused until they gave him the same portion as what White was having.
Jackie McAuley backs this up talking with CBS Sports, as someone who lived with him on the ranch, she was able to get to know him and his habits really well.
“Considering how most people eat several times a day, he didn’t really eat that much,” McAuley said.
Andre could have a full breakfast and not eat for several more hours until it was dinner time.
He even used his normal eating habits to a humorous advantage – Purposely eating from the smallest yogurt cups.
McAuley reveals something else Andre found humorous about the small yogurt cups.
“When it got empty, he’d put it down on the floor and let the miniature dachshund get its head stuck in it trying to lick all of the yogurt out of the container. Andre thought it was funny.”
While he didn’t do it often, there was the odd occasion where Andre would go to town on a meal.
As seen above, Andre is casually about to consume four plates of food!
Tim White spoke with WWE Classics and revealed what Andre could eat.
“He’d go into a restaurant and eat 12 steaks and 15 lobsters. He didn’t do that often, but if he felt like putting on a show and having some laughs, he’d go ahead and do that.”
It’s peculiar to think that he was so big yet didn’t need to eat a big amount all that often. If he did, there’s no telling just how huge Andre could’ve been. It’s a good thing he kept the eating party tricks to a minimum!
# 7 – There Were a Few Wrestlers Brave Enough to Confront Andre The Giant
In a story not included in HBO’s Andre the Giant documentary, Andre was taught an important lesson.
The year was 1980 in Japan, and a star-studded tour bus had the likes of Andre The Giant, Bad News Allen, Dusty Rhodes, Stan Hansen, Hulk Hogan, and Chavo Guerrero Sr. on board. At this time in the business, Bad News Allen had a few years experience, it was Stan Hansen’s first year in Japan before he became a legend over there (although by this point he had already had a notable feud with Bruno Sammartino in WWWF), and Hogan hadn’t risen to his Hulkamania status quite yet.
Travel is tiresome, especially a wrestler’s schedule, which is being on the road up to 350 days a year, and Bad News Allen was about to get some much-needed sleep while on the bus with the above stars riding along the streets of Japan. Allen, in a half sleepy and groggy state, could overhear a drunken Andre The Giant saying things that shocked and disgusted him.
Most people would’ve thought twice before standing up to what Andre was saying. After all, who wants to confront someone who had the ability to move a friend’s car as a rib and pick up Arnold Schwarzenegger like a rag doll? Bad News Allen was a different breed and wasn’t letting Andre’s comments slide.
In one of the most well-reviewed shoot interviews, Bad News Allen spoke with RFvideo about the fight that almost happened.
“I was on the bus, and Dusty Rhodes was on there. Hulk Hogan was sitting behind me, and I used to sit two seats from the front. He [Andre] was in the back there, and I don’t know if he was talking to Dusty or what. Chavo Sr. was on there too, and Andre started making these racist remarks, and he started throwing the N-word around and everything, and I was half sleeping. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.”
Bad News Allen from here went over a conversation between the two that had Allen’s blood boiling.
“Andre!” Allen called out.
Andre responded, “Yeah, what is it?”
“You watch your mouth; I don’t like what you’re saying,” Allen said to the giant.
Andre didn’t respond to this at first. The bus continued to drive along until Andre called out, “Hey, Bad News!” to get his attention.
“Yeah?” Bad News answered.
A drunk Andre told Bad News Allen, “Go fuck yourself!”
Bad News Allen wasn’t taking that kind of nonsense, not even from a giant. Allen told the bus driver to pull over and then bravely told Andre, “You come on out this bus, and you tell me that to my face.” – Andre wouldn’t get off the bus.
“Stan Hansen was there too,” Allen said. “And then we got off the bus to the hotel, and Stan knew I was really pissed off.”
Stan tried to calm down Allen by telling him Andre was drunk and not to worry about it.
“I don’t wanna hear it,” a furious Allen told Stan.
Allen went up to his hotel room later that evening, but even after the whole night had passed, he hadn’t cooled down. Allen stayed up the entire night thinking about it because it really bothered him.
This issue couldn’t go untalked about to Andre. It would have eaten away at Allen, so a confrontation was set to happen even though a forgetful, sobered up Andre didn’t know it.
Allen details, “The next day, I came down early, and I was waiting by the elevator.”
Once Andre got off the elevator, the conversation went like this:
Allen: “Andre, I want to talk to you.”
Andre: “What is it?”
Allen: “Let’s go outside.”
Andre didn’t want to go outside, thinking this was an invitation for a fight. Allen assured him that he would’ve jumped him in the elevator if he wanted to fight and just wanted to talk things out.
“I told him, I said, ‘Look, I don’t appreciate the way you were talking on the bus. You never hear me insult your people,’” Allen told Andre outside.
Andre’s response was that he was Polish, and people made fun of him in a similar vulgar way. Allen wasn’t impressed, telling him, “You don’t hear that from me.”
Allen finished the conversation off by telling Andre he never wanted to hear this type of talk again from him, and Andre apologized.
In the aftermath, the two continued to work together and cross paths every now and then, but they weren’t friends by any means. That said, before Andre’s passing, Allen said they properly buried the hatchet and made peace with one another.
Bad News Allen was seriously brave to confront Andre like this. To get an idea of how no one confronted Andre like this, Hogan specified that when Allen got off the bus and reached into his bag (he did so because he was taking off his earrings and putting them in the bag), Hogan was thinking Allen was reaching for a gun because no one spoke to Andre that way! Hogan thought he had to be armed to have this confidence. He wasn’t; he was only armed with balls of steel.
# 8 – Andre The Giant Had a Daughter Named Robin Christensen Roussimoff
As revealed in HBO’s Andre the Giant documentary and something that is fairly known, Andre suffered from acromegaly, a disorder in which the pituitary gland produces far more growth hormones than usual. Being sterile and having acromegaly are known to have a strong link between one another. Like most living with acromegaly, Andre was under the impression he couldn’t have babies and was, in fact, sterile — he was not. To Andre’s disbelief, Jean Christensen, a woman he had slept with, revealed herself to be pregnant.
A news story aired in the early ’90s featuring a twelve-year-old Robin and her mother speaking about Andre’s failure as a father. The story was controversial to fans of the giant, as it painted him in a bad light when it was always difficult for him to be a father under the circumstances.
A twelve-year-old Robin had this to say about her legendary father:
“He’s like kind of a stranger in a way. It’s like I’ve met him a couple of times, and I know I’ll meet him again at least, and it’ll just be a relationship that doesn’t really grow that much.”
The news story dubbed as “Andre wrestling with his conscience” also featured Jean Christensen, Robin’s mother.
“He’s missing out on a wonderful child. He has built his entire career around how much he loves children,” Jean said, alluding to the fact that Andre’s persona was false.
Jean continued to display her anger.
“He has seen her once as an infant. He saw her once when she was about eighteen months old. He saw her again when she was four, and he saw her again in November of ‘91… for five minutes.”
The reporter helped outline the relationship between Jean and Andre.
“Jean met Andre back in 1974 while doing public relations for wrestling.”
In the midst of an emotionally serious interview, Jean took time to reflect on the initial stages of meeting Andre and her feelings towards him instead of focusing on the family relationship.
“There was no spark there! [laughs] Believe it or not. He was like really surprised to be given something and not have someone ask for something in return. It was just somebody I’d run into.”
Jean continues, “Eventually, yes, there was that nod, nod, winky, winky thing going on you know, and it was really nice, I’m a tall person and putting on my high heels makes me about 6’3” and it was the first man that I had met that I could wear my highest heels around and still look up at! [laughs]”
The innocent nature of the relationship came to a harrowing stop.
“Jean and Andre might have only gone one round, but Jean was in for a big surprise.” The reporter voiced over the story.
Jean speaks one last time, “Then I found out I was pregnant. I was told prior to this happening that he was sterile.”
It was a shock for all parties involved. Suddenly, the one night stand turned into something with lifelong implications.
Reporter Bill McGowan explains Andre was a man worth millions, yet it took years for Andre to pay child support until eventually, the family received $750 a month, which got pushed up to $1000 later on.
Robin changed to a more upbeat topic and told how her friends react when they discover Andre is her dad.
“When my friends find out, they’re like, ‘No!’ and I bring a picture and they see, and they’re like, ‘Oh cool!’ and everything.”
Before the report came to an end, it shifts back to a negative light – acknowledging that the bad outweighs the good.
“If you’re around and there’s a lot of people with fathers there, sometimes you wish you had one, too,” Robin told.
Andre’s perception of the issue is extremely important, and being the busy man he was, he wasn’t available for comment on the news story.
One of his closest friends, Jackie McAuley, ex-wife of Frenchy Bernard, whom Andre was also incredibly fond of, told CBS Sports how Andre felt about the situation.
“It broke his heart,” Jackie revealed. “It absolutely broke his heart that they couldn’t spend more time together.”
It wasn’t for lack of trying. Andre invited Robin over to his ranch in North Carolina, where he lived with Jackie and Frenchy. The plan for Robin to spend some treasured time became a close reality, but a young Robin backed out last minute.
Jackie McAuley was arranged to pick up Robin from Seattle and fly with her back to North Carolina.
“He really, really wanted Robin to come out to North Carolina, and he’d try to get that arranged,” McAuley said. “Robin’s mother said, ‘Well if you could send somebody to get Robin, she can go.’ Andre flew me to Washington. They picked me up at the airport, and we had dinner. I spent the evening there at the house with them, and it was all arranged that I would fly out, pick up Robin, and bring her to the ranch.”
Andre’s excitement for the chance to see his daughter was tarnished.
Robin spoke to CBS Sports, too.
“My mom gave me the choice, and I was the one who said no,” Robin admits. “[My mom] was never the one who said no. It was all me.”
“When you’re not even ten years old, and they’re saying, ‘Oh yeah, you can come out, but your mom has to stay home,’ and you want me to come to a place where I don’t know anybody, I’m not gonna say yes,” an older Robin said.
Unfortunately, with Andre’s battle with health, he passed away before Robin got to an age where she would’ve been comfortable enough to visit him.
Robin reflected more on her father, and as an adult, she could see the good in him. Robin, prior to the airing of the recommended HBO Andre The Giant documentary, did media and spoke about Andre the man, not the wrestler with The Post Game.
“He was my dad. The persona never really touched me. When I saw him, he was dad. I didn’t watch the matches; I saw him backstage.”
She was then asked, “What did you love most about him as a dad?”
Robin replied, “He was truly the gentle giant. I never felt any fear around him whatsoever. It was great whenever we did get to see him.”
When Andre died, he left a flat sum for his two closest friends, Frenchy and Jackie. The rest of his estate went to a sole beneficiary, his daughter, that he hardly knew. An amount that would still benefit her today as royalties continue to come her way – Robin is set for life thanks to her legendary father.
All those years of regret, sadness, and frustration of not having the relationship he wanted with his daughter took a toll on Andre. This was his moment to give back and support his daughter. This kind act means Andre will always be with her.
# 9 – Andre Wasn’t Emotionally Immortal
Just because Andre was a respected man in and out of the ring doesn’t mean he was prone to emotion. The reality that he was a giant living uncomfortably in a small man’s world led to him suffering mentally from the anguish of his bleak reality.
In HBO’s Andre the Giant documentary, Hulk Hogan vouched for his friend, emotionally explaining how hard things were for Andre. There was nothing big enough for him unless it was custom made. For someone who was so enormous, he would be so emasculated for things such as being too big to use a restroom on a plane, so he would have to relieve himself into a bucket whilst people held up a curtain around him.
Hogan also shared how Andre would hear people ridicule him from afar as he walked through airports. This hurt him. Gene Okerlund would be a witness to this, too.
“He would cry,” Okerlund remembered. “You never think a guy like that would cry, but he would cry.”
The Andre the Giant documentary had some footage of Andre himself speaking of this issue.
“It’s difficult everywhere I go,” Andre heartbreakingly recalled.
“They don’t have anything for big people. They’ve got everything for blind people, for crippled people, for some other people but not for big people. So, we have to fit in there, and it’s not too easy all the time.”
Tim White, who featured and gave a lot of important detail on the HBO Andre the Giant documentary, said that Andre would tell him that he would love to be him for just one weekend to live as a regular-sized person.
# 10 – Fans Weren’t the Only Ones Falling for False Mythologies
There’s no one better to confirm this than his boss, Vince McMahon.
In the HBO Andre the Giant documentary, Vince explained, “You could say anything about Andre and people would believe it. The ring on his finger is bigger than your wrist. ‘Oh really! Okay…’ You can believe that.”
Vince even partook in the fun of spreading these untrue facts.
“I used to say to people that Andre had 82 teeth, and they believed it! Yeah, and I said, ‘It’s kind of like when you see his teeth, and they’re not real big, but they are rows of teeth like a shark behind him. No kidding!’”
Ric Flair admitted he fell for these tricks and completely believed a fact that Larry Hennig made up to him one time.
“Larry Hennig told me when I first met him, ‘You know he’s got two hearts and two rows of teeth.’ And I believed him! So I always caught myself trying to look at him.
“Every time Andre talked to me, I’d be looking for that second row of teeth. I said, ‘He couldn’t have two rows of teeth. I could never see them!’ The two hearts I believed forever.” The Nature Boy humbly admitted.
As the years pass by, the legend of Andre the Giant continues to grow. You can bet on more and more myths being passed down for generations to come. Andre is just so unique, you don’t know what to believe, and that’s all part of the fun.
# 11 – Hulk Hogan Didn’t Know if Andre the Giant Would Go Along With the Script at WrestleMania III
The highly praised HBO Andre the Giant documentary finished with an exciting topic: the infamous Andre vs. Hogan WrestleMania 3 showdown — perhaps the most replayed match in the history of professional wrestling.
At the time of WrestleMania 3, Andre was struggling to walk, let alone wrestle. Hogan relived the match and the build-up through his mind so fans could get an idea of how surreal the entire occasion was.
The night before the match, Hogan was asked by Vince McMahon to write down on a pad of paper exactly how he wanted the match to go. Hogan did just this. However, he left the ending open for Vince to decide. Despite this, Andre never let on to Hogan what the finish of the match would be.
When Hogan approached Andre the day of WrestleMania 3, while everyone was running around frantically and nervously in the back, Andre was a calm storm playing cards. He looked up from the cards on the table and said, “Don’t worry about it!” Andre told this to Hogan to help him relax. Of course, this did not help Hogan one bit! He was going into the biggest match in the history of professional wrestling up until this point, not knowing how the finish would go. This was a daunting situation to be in, to put it simply.
All props go to Hogan for the effort he went to in this in the Andre the Giant documentary. Below is a photo of the script, as Hogan remembers it. He re-wrote this himself as the original script is long gone, but this still has an authentic feeling about it because Hogan went to the effort to write it down like it was 1987 all over again.
Reddit user /u/vmoreno did a great job of typing out the script:
Vince, please don’t tell Andre I tried to write the matchup because he will kick my ass, he might think I’ve lost it! Or even worse, don’t trust him!
1) Slow entrance into ring, get the feel of the crowd, keep my distance, intense shirt tear, get the place rumbling, move slowly walking towards him talking smack enough to piss him off.
2) Andre pushes me first, then back and forth.
3) Andre throws first punch, block, 3 big punches, go for slam, Andre falls on me, crushes me for a 2 1/2 count very close to the ropes so Andre can pull himself up, I roll opposite way to distance myself, so fans don’t see how hard it is for him to pull himself up.
4) Get some heat, walk on my back
5) Stretch my back, beat on me, slow grind to get the building rumbling, a few body slams, stand on my back, make it look like he has a chance, keep Andre up and stay down selling, selling, selling — damage. Choke me, headbutt me, miss 2nd …”
There was another page behind the one that was typed out, but unfortunately, it wasn’t shown on camera in the Andre the Giant documentary.
The time had come for WrestleMania III, Hogan was nervous as ever, still not knowing if Andre was going to follow along. Andre was just keeping to himself during the build-up.
Going into the match, Hogan had no idea if any of his plans would come to fruition. To Hogan’s relief, when the match got underway, he could see Andre was following along perfectly with the script.
Then the finish came.
“Slaaaam!” Hogan remembers Andre shouting to him in the ring.
“Leg drop!” Andre called after.
Hogan was surprised but followed the instructions called in the ring. This is the most replayed moment in the history of pro wrestling, and Hogan wasn’t even sure until that last moment Andre called the spot whether or not it would happen. Surreal.
# 12 – Health Issues and the Final Days of Andre the Giant
Andre knew he wasn’t going to live a long life. Acromegaly, the disease located in the pituitary gland that resulted in his abnormal growth, was his blessing and curse. With the size acromegaly offered, it gave him the potential to become the giant star he ended up being – unfortunately, all that fame and fortune came at a sad reality that he wouldn’t live to make it past 50. Andre tragically died of heart failure on January 27, 1993, in a Paris hotel room, alone, aged 46.
Andre had the option to potentially extend his life-span twice but refused on both occasions. The first time was in the early 70s in Japan, where it was first discovered that he had acromegaly at the age of 23. He denied the treatment.
The second time the opportunity arose to reverse his acromegaly was in the 80s when his health was declining more, and he was being treated for an ankle fracture.
Later in life, Andre struggled to breathe when he lied down and was struggling healthwise in general. Andre, not wanting to cause a scene by being out in public and having to deal with the inevitable annoyances, chose to get a local doctor to pay him daily visits rather than go to a hospital.
Dr. Pressley R. Rankin Jr., the doctor assigned to house call to help Andre, decided enough was enough after only one week of daily visits.
Per CBS Sports, Jackie McCauley recalled what Dr. Pressley R. Ranking Jr. told Andre.
“This is my last visit,” the doctor told Andre. “I refuse to come back here and watch you die.”
It was going to take some convincing, but with the recommendations from a local doctor and his closest friends, Frenchy and Jackie, he knew it was time to visit a hospital.
“I told Andre that the next day he was going to the hospital, and he didn’t have a choice,” McAuley said.
“He pretty much said, ‘Okay.’”
What made his breathing difficult was a large amount of fluid surrounding his heart. This also put a strain on the way his heart was functioning. His body kept growing as a result of his acromegaly, but his heart always stayed the same size. It had to work extra hard to provide what his body needed, but ultimately, this was a losing battle. The fluid around his heart was drained, and during the process of it all, doctors told Andre he had acromegaly and offered to operate.
McAuley remembers, “The doctors said, ‘You’ve got acromegaly.’ “He said, ‘Yeah, I know. I’ve known about it for years.’”
“They wanted to operate, and he said no. I couldn’t convince him. I guess at that point; it was a little bit late anyway.” McAuley shared.
Andre’s reason not to get operated on?
“If this is the size that God wanted me to be, I’m going to be this size.”
One decade later, sadly, Andre died days after his father’s death. He was in France to attend the funeral.
Andre’s last day was spent in his hometown Molien, playing cards with some of his longest known friends. Later that night, his driver dropped him off at Hotel De La Tremoille in Paris and was told by Andre to pick him up at 8 am the next day.
Andre wasn’t to be seen at 8 am at pick up time. The hotel tried calling his room phone at 11 am, no answer. And again at 3 pm, to again, no answer. By 3:30 pm, the hotel manager went up to knock on Andre’s hotel door. When there was no response, the door had to be broken down. Andre was there found. He passed away, alone, in his Paris hotel room bed.
Jackie McCauley believes the same problem he had in the early 80s with the large number of fluids surrounding the heart had come back, leading him to his demise.
Andre was 46 years old when he died. In Japan, when his acromegaly was first discovered, the doctors reportedly said he might not make it past 40. Andre got an extra six years on acromegaly.
Andre’s family held a funeral for him in France. And as mentioned in the HBO Andre the Giant documentary, his body was then flown back to the United States and brought to his beloved AFJ Ranch, where a memorial service was held featuring the likes of his handler and close friend Tim White, Jackie, Frenchy, and Hulk Hogan.
The circumstances of his death are tragically sad. Being alone in a hotel room for your last moments is heart-wrenching. If you take away that cruel fate, his passing appears as a coming of age, full-circle moment. Andre traveled the world, visited more countries and cities than most people ever will see. He never got to spend time in his hometown of Molien, and by fateful chance, he died on a night where he got to spend time back at home with his family and friends who he so dearly missed.
Larger than life? Yup, that just about sums him up.
If you enjoyed this piece, be sure not to miss the following articles on our site:
- Andre the Giant and Akira Maeda | How Their Fight Turned REAL in Japan
- André The Giant | Unforgettable Encounters with Fans
- Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant – Their 8-Year Rivalry On and Off-Camera