As one of the most famous professional wrestlers in history, Andre the Giant occupies a space between a professional athlete and a cult figure. Part wrestler, part celebrity, and part legend, Andre Roussimoff is still a curiosity decades after his untimely death. While he was alive, however, Rousimoff made himself a comfortable living occupying these roles concurrently.
Andre the Giant’s life
Even Roussimoff’s childhood sounds like an urban legend, according to Snopes. Long before he was the international celebrity that he grew into, Beckett was a child growing up in France.
There, he met a local writer named Samuel Beckett, who occasionally gave Roussimoff and his friends rides to school. This anecdote may not mean much to his eventual story, but it perfectly encapsulates the strange life that Roussimoff lived.
Beckett was an Irish playwright living in France. Later on in life, he achieved fame for his Waiting for Godot, an absurdist play that remains in high demand to this day. These early legends help signify Roussimoff’s rise to fame, and as he grew too big for his age, that legend grew only stranger as the 7’4″ star matured into adulthood.
Roussimoff was not an abnormally large child, but by the time that he was 10 years old, he sprouted up to six feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds. Taking advantage of his size, Roussimoff’s father took him out of school to help out on the family farm. He carried out several similar odd jobs for the rest of his youth.
Eventually, Roussimoff wanted to spread his wings. He didn’t want to be a farm-worker. He began to wrestle around Paris as Jean Ferre, and rumors of this enormous champion began to spread around the international circuits. This was the birth of Andre the Giant.
Andre the Giant is born
According to BioGraphics, during the days, Roussimoff was moving furniture for a living, but by night he was fighting others for entertainment. Opponents feared wrestling him, even in a staged setting, and he never lost a bout. He began to tour Europe, Africa, and other international locations as the legend of his size grew even bigger.
By 1971, he had made his way to North America after a successful tour in Canada. It was a 1972 match in front of 20,000 that put him in the spotlight, and he delivered.
Andre the Giant played into the lovable giant role and immediately grew a large following. Under the guidance of Vince McMahon, he became a staple on talk shows, where his charming personality added to his magnetic pull toward fans.
By 1976, he began to get roles in movies. The most famous of these movies came years later in the form of The Princess Bride, but Roussimoff was officially a star.
His bouts with Hulk Hogan made him an icon in wrestling, and his acting roles made him an icon with film fans. Before the Rock and in the early days of Hogan, Roussimoff was the face of wrestling.
Lasting legacy and net worth at death
Thanks to his enormous size, Roussimoff could endure a lifestyle that few could live up to. Tales of his ability to pound hundreds of beers and wash them down with enormous amounts of steak became folklore in wrestling communities to this day. People started making up their own biography of Roussimoff and his legend.
Roussimoff died in 1993 of heart failure. He was, quite literally, too big for his heart. Thanks to his international appeal, Roussimoff amassed a hefty fortune of $10 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In many ways, he seems to be a figure who was made for the modern audience. Despite this, he reached superstardom that few could ever imagine. To this day, that legacy lives on.