For you younger folk, Andre the Giant’s formidable mug is probably seared in your brain in the form of think-worthy “OBEY” stickers plastered in big cities all across the country. But for those of us who are a tad bit older, we remember him looking crazy scary in those one-piece bathing suit getups in Wrestlemania and acting as Inconceivable(!)’s slow-moving, teddy-bearish giant henchman, Fezzik, in Princess Bride.
But Andre the Giant had a lot more interesting moments in pop culture history. The seven and a half foot star would’ve celebrated his birthday today, and despite his passing 21 years ago, his massive legend lives on in the amazing new graphic novel Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by author/cartoonist Box Brown. To remember the larger-than-life star we asked big-time wrestling fan Brown to dive into his research and dig up some fascinating facts about Andre—from his little known wrestling secrets to how he rescued Cyndi Lauper (sort of…) Read on for more!
1. The Princess Bride was NOT Andre’s first acting role, far from it! Andre’s first acting job was in the television series The Six Million Dollar Man in 1976. He played Big Foot and was heavily made up. He also had roles in the ‘70s TV shows: BJ and The Bear, The Fall Guy and The Greatest American Hero. He also appeared in the movie Conan The Destroyer. I have a special place in my heart for his role in the Cyndi Lauper music video “Goonies R Good Enough Part 2.” (Remember Cyndi’s pro wrestling phase? In the video, which features a star-studded cast of pro wrestlers, Cyndi works at her mom and pop’s gas station where goofy creditors threaten to evict them until Andre comes to the rescue with a smack down.)
2. Andre’s classic one-arm black singlet he wore in his later years was specifically designed to hide a back brace he needed to wear. Similarly, the special carts designed to take the wrestlers to and from the ring during Wrestlemanias III and VI were mostly there because of Andre. Both were in huge venues and a long walk down to the ring was tough on Andre. It also would have made him look less imposing on TV so they invented the special motorized ring carts.
3. Andre was known for his ability to eat a lot, but most people don’t know he was a “foodie.” He had a love for the finest foods and wines. He was well known at the best restaurants in every city he visited. He even owned a French restaurant in Montreal called Le Picher.
4. My book is NOT the first comic book to feature Andre the Giant. He was the star of many many pages of Japanese manga! The manga works remain untranslated, but used copies of the manga seem to still be available.
5. The version of The Princess Bride we all know and love was released in 1987. But there was originally a Princess Bride project set to come out in the ‘70s. Author William Goldman had always wanted Andre the Giant to play the role of Fezzik, even back then! Unfortunately, Andre was much too big of a star and they couldn’t get him! They had to go with the then unknown actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The project eventually fell through. When it resurfaced in the ‘80s, Mr. Schwarzenegger was the one who was too big for the role. Luckily Andre was free!
6. Andre’s farm in North Carolina went up for auction in late 2013. The bidding seems to still be going on. The original structure created and/or modified to fit Andre’s massive frame still exists. If I had any money I’d buy it.
Box Brown is an Ignatz Award‑winning American cartoonist best known for the comic Bellen! and the winner of a Xeric Grant for the comic Love Is a Peculiar Type of Thing. A passionate proponent of the serial comics format, Brown runs the micropress Retrofit, dedicated to supporting independent serial comics work. His most recent book is Andre the Giant, Life and Legend. He is also a life-long professional wrestling fan.