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Big Stars

The following is an article from the book Uncle John’s Perpetually Pleasing Bathroom Reader.

George Clooney is a huge star— but not nearly as huge as these guys. Here are a few of the tallest actors who ever appeared on the big (and little) screen.

(Image credit: Georg Wessels)

STAR: Alexander Sizonenko

HEIGHT: 7 feet 10 inches

SHORT BIO: Sizonenko was born in the Ukraine in 1959, and was a professional basketball player in the Soviet Union during the ’70s and ’80s. In 1991, he appeared in the Czech film The Brave Little Tailor in which he played— big surprise— a giant. It’s the only acting role he’s ever had, but that’s enough to make him the tallest actor in history. (He has his own page on the Internet Movie Database.) Bonus: For a short time in 1991, Sizonenko was listed in Guinness World Records as the tallest man alive.

STAR: Gheorghe Muresan

HEIGHT: 7 feet 7 inches

(Image credit: Claire Powers)

SHORT BIO: Another basketballer who dabbled in acting. Muresan was born in Romania in 1971, became a star player in Europe, and then had a respectable career in the NBA (1993– 2000), mostly with the Washington Bullets. His only major acting job was playing the title role in the 2003 Billy Crystal film My Giant (see next page). But he had a few minor roles, too, including appearing as “the ventriloquist” in Eminem’s breakthrough 2000 “My Name Is” music video, and playing himself in the 2003 TV documentary Giants: Friend or Foe.

STAR: Matthew McGrory

HEIGHT: 7 feet 6 inches

 

SHORT BIO: McGrory was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1973. After trying law school for a while, then working as a bar bouncer, he became interested in acting. His first movie role: a zombie in the 1999 low budget horror/ comedy film The Dead Hate the Living! His best-known movie role: Karl, the sad giant befriended by Ewan McGregor in the 2003 Tim Burton film Big Fish. You may have also seen him in Bubble Boy (2001) and in Constantine (2005), and he even appeared on the TV shows Malcolm in the Middle and Charmed. Unfortunately, McGrory died young— at age 32 in 2005. (The cause of death was never conclusively determined.) Guinness World Records claims McGrory had the world’s largest toe: Each of his big toes was five inches long.

STAR: Daniel Gilchrist

HEIGHT: 7 feet 5.5 inches

SHORT BIO: Gilchrist was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1982. From 2003 until 2005, he worked in the Midwest professional wrestling circuit under the moniker “The Mighty Sequoia,” then decided to focus on acting. First starring role: He played “the Creature” in the Topeka Performing Arts Center’s production of Frankenstein. So far he’s had just one movie role, but it was a big one: Gilchrist played André the Giant in the 2007 biopic André: Heart of the Giant. He only got the role after Matthew McGrory, who had been cast to star in the film, died during filming.

STAR: André the Giant

HEIGHT: 7 feet 4 inches

SHORT BIO: Born in Grenoble, France, in 1946, André René Roussimoff left home at 14, worked a variety of jobs, then moved to Paris in 1964 at the age of 18 and became a professional wrestler. By the early ’70s, “André the Giant” was an international superstar. In 1976, he played “Bigfoot” in three episodes of The Six-Million Dollar Man. His acting career grew after that, starting with small roles on other TV shows, culminating in the part he’s best known for, the role of the giant Fezzik in the 1987 film The Princess Bride. He pretty much disappeared from the acting scene after that, and died of heart failure in 1993 at the age of 46. The 1998 Billy Crystal film, My Giant, was inspired by Crystal’s old friend André the Giant, whom he’d met while filming The Princess Bride.

STAR: Peter Mayhew

 

HEIGHT: 7 feet 3 inches

SHORT BIO: Mayhew is probably the most famous of all the big stars in this article— and yet most people have no idea what he looks like. In 1976, Mayhew, a 33-year-old hospital orderly in his hometown of London, England, appeared in a photo in a local newspaper story about people with especially large feet. At 7 feet 3 inches tall, he stood out in the photo. In a bizarre coincidence that would change his life forever, Hollywood producer Charles H. Schneer happened to see the photo, contacted Mayhew, and asked him if he’d play a minotaur in a film he was working on, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Mayhew agreed, and while he was in Hollywood auditioned for another part: the role of Chewbacca the Wookie in Star Wars. He ended up playing the role in all the Star Wars films that featured the character (two of the prequels didn’t), and has appeared at hundreds of Star Wars and science-fiction conventions over the decades. (He also played Chewbacca in the 2011 Christmas episode of the television series Glee.)

(Image credit: Smylere Snape)

STAR: Richard Kiel

HEIGHT: 7 feet 2 inches



SHORT BIO: Kiel was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1939. After high school he got a job selling cemetery plots. (“ It was very good practice” for acting, he said years later.) In the late ’50s, he decided he wanted to be an actor, and moved to Los Angeles. First role: bare-knuckle boxer Duff Brannigan in a 1960 episode of the short-lived TV series Klondike. In 1962, he got his first starring film role in one of the worst films ever made, Eegah— about a caveman who comes to life in California and falls in love with a teenage girl. Over the next 15 years, Kiel appeared in dozens of TV shows and films. Then, in 1977, he got the role that made him internationally famous— the steel-toothed henchman “Jaws” in the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. He was such a popular character that producers brought him back for the next Bond film, 1979’ s Moonraker. In 1992, he suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, and he has only appeared in a few films since.

RICHARD KIEL QUOTE: “I’m actually seven foot and one and one half inches tall. But I say ‘seven two’ because it’s easier.”

_______________________________

The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John’s Perpetually Pleasing Bathroom Reader. The 26th annual edition of Uncle John’s wildly successful series is all-new and jam-packed with the BRI’s patented mix of fun and information.

Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!


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Don't forget Shaquille O'Neal (7'1") who starred in Blue Chips, which is a decent film, and Kazaam, which is a pretty bad one; and more importantly Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who starred against Bruce Lee in The Game of Death, and in the classic comedy flick Airplane!

And in Space Jam there's 7'6" Shawn Bradley, 7'1" Valde Divac, and 7' Patrick Ewing.

I'm sure I can find more basketball players in small acting roles. These are the ones I remember from memory.
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