It’s now more than 100 years since the tallest man ever was born.
Of course, no one anticipated his future as the world’s tallest man when he entered the world on 22 February 1918 weighing an unremarkable 8.7 pounds, the son of average-sized parents.
But Robert Wadlow’s name is now known all over the globe – the towering American who measured a staggering 2.72 m (8 ft 11.1 in) tall when last measured on 27 June 1940, becoming the tallest man in the world.
Wadlow was born in Alton, Illinois, on February 22, 1918, to Harold Franklin and Addie May (Johnson) Wadlow, and was the oldest of five children. He was taller than his father by age 8, and in elementary school a special desk was made for him. By his graduation from Alton High School in 1936, he was 8 ft 4 in (254 cm). He enrolled in Shurtleff College with the intention of studying law.
One year before his death, Wadlow passed John Rogan as the tallest person ever. On June 27, 1940 (18 days before his death), he was measured by doctors at 8 ft 11.1 in (2.72 m).
On July 4, 1940, during a professional appearance at the Manistee National Forest Festival, a faulty brace irritated his ankle, leading to infection. He was treated with a blood transfusion and surgery, but his condition worsened due to an autoimmune disorder; he died in his sleep on July 15.