Boy Giant
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Boy Giant

Dan Brannan

"Boy Giant" is a biography about Robert Pershing Wadlow, who grew to 8-foot-11½ inches and was the tallest man to ever walk the face of the earth. "Boy Giant" is written by Dan Brannan, executive editor of The Telegraph newspaper in Alton, Illinois.

Robert was the world’s tallest man, but also a kind, thoughtful, spiritual person. He was a successful student, a Boy Scout, and member of the Order of DeMolay, Main Street Methodist Church, and Franklin Masonic Lodge in Alton. He attended Shurtleff College for one year but realized that the campus in the winter was to difficult to navigate. While on a tour with the International Shoe Company at the age of 22 Wadlow developed an infection in his foot and one week later he died in Manistee, Michigan. Wadlow’s funeral was attended by some 30,000 people. Wadlow’s parents buried their son’s body under a vault of concrete because of fears his body would be taken and examined for medical research.

Wadlow, an Alton, Illinois native, became an international phenomenon after his death on July 15, 1940. He became the Guinness Book of Records’ tallest man in 1937. In 1980, the Alton Museum of History & Art opened an exhibit on Robert Wadlow. Three years later, a major community effort to build a statue for Robert Wadlow began and on Oct. 20, 1985, it was unveiled in Upper Alton.

In 1996, Oprah Winfrey did a segment on town oddities that featured Robert Wadlow. Winfrey stood next to a life-size cutout of the world’s tallest man, which dwarfed her and talked of how Robert was born and lived in Alton.

The Robert Wadlow web site today is one of the most visited in the world. The web site was established in 1996. Since that time it has had thousands of visitors. The Wadlow web site went on to be named as one of the Yahoo Picks of the Year and was voted fourth out of 52 top weekly Picks of the Year in 1998.

On Aug. 18, 1998, Wadlow’s life was center stage on "Guinness World Records: Primetime" on FOX Channel 2. In late December 1999, "Ripley’s Believe It Or Not" television series did a taping for the TBS Network in Alton about Robert Wadlow.

In May 2000, the British Broadcasting Company came to Alton to shoot footage on Wadlow. The BBC was taping for a segment on the Discovery Channel, which aired in the fall 2000.

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