Sandy Allen was born in 1955, a normal-sized baby. But she grew, and grew, and grew to be 7’ 7” by the time she was 20, when brain surgery to remove a tumor on her pituitary gland stopped her growth. She was diagnosed with the tumor as a pre-teen, but as her family was uninsured, they could not afford it. If she’d had the surgery as a young girl, she would have been just a tall woman. As it turned out, Sandy Allen achieved the world record as the tallest woman in the world. But it came with a price- Gigantism has a lot of physical effects besides height. Doctors told her she’d be lucky to live past age 30.
Sandy would always have two options: a life lived publicly — one that embraced her title, perhaps attempted to do good with it, but invited judgment — or a private one. Soon after she became aware of how short her life might be, she elected the former. A Scottish promoter named Norman Adie first took Sandy to Australia, where she appeared at several department stores. That summer she did appearances at Adie’s Fantastic Facts and Feats in Wildwood, N.J. Sandy brought along Michael and adopted a dog she called Adie. After two summers there, she decided to take a job at the Guinness Museum in Niagara Falls, Canada.
“At that point her family needed money, and she wasn’t making it too well on a secretary salary,” Rose says. “She could be out on her own and make it for herself. That appealed to her.”
Allen worked at the Guinness Museum for eight years, and did plenty of traveling and public appearances afterward. But her body strained under her 450-pound weight, and as she got older, she suffered more physical disabilities and became frustrated and depressed. But she always put on a happy face for the public. Read the story of Sandy Allen at Buzzfeed.
(Image courtesy of Rita Rose)