French wrestler André the Giant was born on May 19, 1946 in Grenoble. His real name was André René Roussimoff. He suffered from a disorder that resulted in his enormous size of 7’ 4” and 475 pounds. He was over six feet tall before he was even a teenager. Since he was too big for the school bus, a family friend drove him to and from school – a family friend who happened to be named Samuel Beckett, author of Waiting for Godot. Maybe Becket was inspired while waiting for André after school.
André’s aspirations were far from literary, however. He dropped out of school, since he didn’t see any need to complete his education in order to work as a farmhand. He had a series of laboring jobs. When he was 18 he moved to Paris where he met a wrestling promoter who saw enormous potential (pun intended) in André. The farm boy began traveling the world as a wrestler under a variety of different names – André the Giant, Géant Ferré after a mythic French colossus, and Monster Roussimoff. The biggest challenge was coming up with opponents who were a reasonable match for him. He became a fixture with the WrestleMania circuit with high profile opponents such as Hulk Hogan. Throughout his wrestling career, he made various forays into acting in movies and TV shows, usually as some sort of monster. He’s best known for playing the role of Fezzik in The Princess Bride. Roussimoff died on January 27, 1993 from congestive heart failure, a complication of his malady.
Today’s expression, c’est géant! (seh zjayahn), literally means “it’s giant” but is used to mean it’s super or it’s great. While WrestleMania may not be my cup of tea, André was one their finest performers, drawing huge crowds and winning enormous purses. And hey, he even has his own action figure! C’est géant!
- Andre the giant (wweinfoanddetails.wordpress.com)
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- My Favorite Things: Andre the Giant’s Honey Comb Commercial (danielsfunny.com)