Andre the Giant was not only one of the most famous WWE superstars of all time, he was one of the most famous celebrities known worldwide. Andre was the first and only member to be inducted in the inaugural WWE Hall of Fame in 1993. Andre Rene Roussimoff was born in the small French village of Moliens on May 19, 1946, and “The Eighth Wonder of the World” would have been 72-years-old. To celebrate the legend’s birthday, WWE released 50 epic photos of Andre the Giant.
During the height of his career, the WWE superstar stood seven feet, four inches tall and weighed well over 500 pounds. He wrestled around the world for nearly 30 years and began his in-ring career in France at the age of 17. Andre wowed audiences across the world, and though the WWE would later discourage him to do so (in order for him to appear more giant-like), the superstar showed off his agility by performing agile maneuvers like a dropkick. After wrestling for promotions in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, Africa, Iraq, and Japan, the world-famous athlete came to the U.S. to wrestle for Verne Gagne’s AWA.
It didn’t take long for Vince McMahon Sr. to sign him to the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), currently known as the WWE. It was McMahon’s idea to call him Andre the Giant (he formerly wrestled under a few different monikers, including Monster Roussimoff). From 1973 to 1987, the superstar was undefeated. A beloved babyface throughout his career, Andre shocked the WWE universe when he turned heel, hired Bobby Heenan as his manager, and turned on his good friend Hulk Hogan. The two had a record-breaking match at WrestleMania 3, and many still consider it the biggest match the annual event has ever hosted.
Though his health was declining quickly, Andre the Giant insisted on wrestling Hulk Hogan because he knew it would take the industry to a whole new level. He didn’t smarten Hogan up before the contest, calling the match in the ring, Andre signaled for Hogan to beat him with a leg drop, the torch was passed, and history was made.
“The Eighth Wonder of the World” won the hearts of millions through his wrestling career and with his famed role as Fezzik in the 1987 blockbuster film, The Princess Bride. He officially retired from professional wrestling in 1992 and held numerous titles in a number of promotions, including the WWF Tag Team Championship, and though it was only for a matter of minutes, the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.
Andre Roussimoff passed away at the age of 46 on January 27, 1993. The WWE created the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in 2014, and it is now a contest held annually at WrestleMania. In April 2018, HBO released a documentary titled Andre the Giant, and it is currently streaming On Demand.
To see all 50 photos in celebration of the late wrestler’s birthday, just head over to the WWE website.