They Might Be Giants: 11 Strange Images of the Super-Tall (Then and Now)

RealClear Staff


They've been shunned by society and embraced; they've been athletes and supermodels, and they've been unfortunately displayed in circus freak shows. These are some of the tallest people in world history. 

1. Brazil's Tallest Model

Brazil’s tallest teenager, Elisany da Cruz Silvais a 6-feet-9 aspiring model who married her  5-feet-4 tall boyfriend.


2. America's Tallest Man

Ukrainian-born Igor Vovkovinskiy is the current tallest living person in the United States, at  7-feet, 8.33 inches He has acted in commercials and films, notably the 2011 comedy film "Hall Pass" and also became known for wearing a T-shirt that read "World's Biggest Obama Supporter." 

3. World's Tallest Model

At more than 6-feet-9, Erika Ervani, a.k.a. Amazon Eve, is a California model and fitness instructor. She most recently had a recurring role in FX's "American Horror Story: Freak Show." 

4. America's Longest Legs

Holly Burt, a 20-year-old design student from Florida living in New York, has a U.S.-record (for a female) 49 1/2-inch legs. She's 6-feet-5 -- that means her 4-foot-1 1/2-inch legs take up about two-thirds of her height! 

5. The NBA's Tallest Player, Part I

When Manute Bol was chosen by the Washington Bullets in the 1985 draft, he became the tallest player in NBA history at 7-feet-7. Two years later, the Bullets would draft the shortest player in NBA history, Muggsy Bogues at 5-feet-3. What a team they made!

6. The NBA's Tallest Player, Part 2

When Romania's Gheorghe Mureșan entered the NBA in 1991, he joined Manute Bol as the tallest in the league at 7-feet-7. Mureșan even found time to star in movies and television, most famously "My Giant" with Billy Crystal in 1998.

7. The Shields Brothers

A Barnum & Bailey sideshow act in the 1880s, the four Shields brothers of White Rock, Texas, were billed as being between 7-feet-8 and 8-feet tall, but in reality none of them exceeded 7-feet. The Texas Giants, as they were called, were an American legend in their time.


8. The World's Tallest Woman

During the 1970s and '80s, Indiana's Sandy Allen (1955-2008) was something of a cultural icon. She was nationally famous as the Guinness Book of Records-verified tallest woman in the world (7-feet-7). Her abnormal height was due to a tumor in her pituitary gland. She appeared in the Academy Award-winning Italian film "Il Casanova di Federico Fellini," in a TV movie called "Side Show," and in a Canadian/American documentary film, "Being Different." The New Zealand band Split Enz wrote a song about her, "Hello Sandy Allen," released on their 1982 album "Time and Tide." And, she wrote a book, "Cast A Giant Shadow."


9. The Tallest Person EVER

This is Robert Pershing Wadlow (1918-1940), who at 8-feet-11 was the tallest person in recorded history. Born and raised in Alton, Illinois, Wadlow weighed 439 lb at his death at age 22. His great size was due to hyperplasia of his pituitary gland.

10. Tallest Woman EVER

Zeng Jinlian (1964-82) was the tallest woman in recorded history, standing 8-feet-1¾ -- the only woman counted among the 17 people who have reached verified heights of eight feet or more.

11. The Science-Fiction Monster

Lock Martin (1916-59) was seen by millions -- but no one ever recognized him as he walked down the street (although they sure noticed his 7-feet-7 frame). That's because his place in film history is as Gort, the giant robot that protects Klaatu (Michael Rennie), an alien visiting earth in the 1951 classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still." He was also in such films as "The Snow Creature" (1954), "Invaders from Mars" and the Esther Williams swimming musical "Million Dollar Mermaid" (1952). Below is what he looked like away from the movie set.



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