(ORDO NEWS) — When Sandy Allen was 10 years old, she was 190 cm tall. And the fact that she towered over most adults at such a young age foreshadowed an incredible – albeit short-lived – struggle for the title of holder of the title of the tallest woman on the planet in the Guinness Book of Records.
Sandy even bought a bus with the sign “The tallest woman in the world.”
It was the Guinness Book of Records that helped Sandy Allen come to terms with her body. Upon reaching adulthood, Allen wrote to the company, hoping they could introduce her to someone as tall as her. Her social life was “virtually zero”, she wrote, due to her shyness.
A legend is born
Allen was born in Chicago in 1955. Weighing over three kilograms at birth, there was no hint of her future size. At some point, a tumor in her pituitary gland produced excess growth hormone and caused acromegaly, or gigantism, the same condition that afflicted André the Giant, a French wrestler.
Even at home, where she grew up with her grandmother in Shelbyville, Indiana, Allen’s height brought her problems. Her bed frame was so huge that it couldn’t fit in the bedroom – instead it was placed in the dining room.
At school, Allen felt like an outcast: she was too tall to fit into the public, and too clumsy to use her height in sports.
A palm-sized mutant strawberry was also listed in the Guinness Book of Records.
In 1974, while Allen was working as a secretary, some colleagues convinced her to submit her data to Guinness. Her growth was indeed a record, and she appeared in the 1976 edition of the book.
This led to publicity, which Sandy seemed to enjoy. Instead of teasing her like her classmates used to, people seemed to be genuinely curious about her.
Hollywood is calling
The ensuing public interest led Allen to a role in Federico Fellini’s Casanova, where she played Angelina the Giantess.
This was followed by numerous appearances on television in talk shows and just author’s speeches, where Allen emphasized to the children the importance of accepting who you are. Sandy even bought a bus with the sign “The tallest woman in the world.”
When Allen returned from Rome after filming Fellini’s film, doctors examined her and convinced her to remove a tumor that could have left her blind. Even then, a host of health problems caused by the overgrowth of her organs led doctors to fear that she might not live past her 30s.
Instead of dwelling on that prediction, Allen took a job at the Guinness Museum in Niagara Falls, where she became something of a living exhibit. She talked about her height – 2 meters 31.7 cm and answered questions from viewers about her diet – she joked that she ate shorties.
Speaking of diets: scientists have learned to “turn on” and “turn off” gluttony!
Work at the Guinness Museum lasted eight years, after which Allen returned to Indiana. Throughout the 1980s, she made a living as a secretary and made occasional television appearances.
As it became increasingly difficult for her to travel standing or walking too long could cause blisters, one of which grew so large that she had to amputate her toe she needed more help.
Allen lived in a nursing home until her death at age 53 in 2008. Among the other tenants was also 115-year-old Edna Parker, who was recognized by the Guinness book at one time as the oldest person in the world.
Although Sandy’s record was eventually broken by China‘s Zeng Jinlian, who was 248 cm tall, Allen is probably the more famous Guinness legend. After her death, friends often said that what they remember most about her is that she was a good and kind person.
Contact us: [email protected]