Skip to comments.Wrestling Giant's Daughter Wants Father Remembered
Posted on 10/01/2002 10:48:02 AM PDT by adam stevens
Wrestling Giant's Daughter Wants Father Remembered
SEATTLE (Reuters) - It would be hard to forget Andre the Giant, whose freakish size belied surprising grace and agility and made him one of the most popular professional wrestlers of all time, even now, nearly a decade after his death.
Andre the Giant, nicknamed "The Eighth Wonder of the World," was billed as 7-foot-5 and 520 pounds with a sprawling 71-inch chest and 16-inch hands that made beer cans look like thimbles.
Yet to his only child, watching today's beefcakes strut for screeching fans at a raucous World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. news conference last week, the man who was one of the foremost worldwide attractions in professional wrestling in the 1970s and 1980s seemed less than an afterthought.
"It seems like they don't honor him. It's almost like he's forgotten," said Robin Christensen, 23-year-old daughter of Andre Roussimoff, born in France in 1946 with overactive growth hormones that would ultimately lead to his death in January 1993 at age 46 after a lifetime with the medical condition known as acromegaly.
Nearly 6 feet tall herself and bearing a striking resemblance to her father, Christensen hopes WWE will mark the 10th anniversary of his death when it brings its signature WrestleMania event next March to Seattle, where she lives.
During his career, Andre the Giant was one of the top attractions in professional wrestling -- a spectacle of matches with predetermined finishes that blends athletics with outlandish showmanship.
Andre wrestled frequently for the World Wrestling Federation, as WWE was known until earlier this year, but also was a wrestling star abroad, particularly in Japan. He also appeared in several films and television shows, most notably a key role in director Rob Reiner's 1987 hit "The Princess Bride."
'WE HONOR ANDRE'S MEMORY'
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, the world's most-famous wrestling impresario, gave few details about the program for WrestleMania -- an annual pay-per-view extravaganza that is the biggest day of the year for professional wrestling in the United States. But McMahon spoke fondly of Andre the Giant.
"We honor Andre's memory almost every day. Hardly a day goes past where we don't think and/or talk about Andre, but nothing specific (was planned) for WrestleMania," McMahon told Reuters after the presentation.
McMahon promised to pack 50,000 fans into Seattle's Safeco Field and "blow the roof off" at WrestleMania, which dates to 1985. WrestleMania came of age in 1987, when Hulk Hogan pinned Andre the Giant, symbolically taking over as wrestling's biggest star, in front of an announced crowd of 93,000 people at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan.
But handouts detailing the history of WrestleMania focus on attendance and box office receipts, failing to mention any specific wrestlers until the 1995 event.
A stylized version of Andre the Giant's imposing visage is still seen in cities around the world, stenciled across street signs and sidewalks by artist Shepard Fairey beginning in the 1990s, or by followers he inspired.
But while Fairey's work helped rekindle interest in the mountainous wrestler, which his daughter appreciates, Christensen is less enthralled by Fairey's sales of prints including his Giant stencils.
'HE NEEDS TO PAY ROYALTIES'
"I can't get into it because there are legal procedures," Christensen said. "But he needs to pay royalties."
In a similar case involving sales of T-shirts bearing the likenesses of the Three Stooges comedy troupe, the U.S. Supreme Court ( news - web sites) ruled last January that a portrait artist must pay the Stooges' heirs $75,000 in profits plus $150,000 in legal fees.
Christensen enjoys watching the current crop of WWE wrestlers, and she stood and screamed with the young crowd when her favorites were introduced in Seattle, bathed in flashing lights and pulsating music.
"They're unbelievable guys," she said with a grin.
The largest of the current WWE behemoths, "Big Show" Paul Wight, is listed at 7-foot-2 and 500 pounds.
Christensen had no doubts about who would win a match between Andre the Giant and Big Show.
"Oh, I know my dad could take him," she said.
Oh, that's scary...
Man, she must be one ugly woman.
Hulk Hogan as a "Great" wrestler. Now that's funny.
"You're with the Brute Squad? You are the Brute Squad!"
What Ill remember the most was a soft-spoken, gracious, engaging man . . . not at all what I expected.
Andre was fun to watch before his disease left him nearly crippled. Hogan was far too formualic in the ring and his character was too one dimensional.
Steve Austin was a pretty good worker, was pretty good on the mic and had a very good grasp of the psychology of building a good match. I'd take Austin over anyone as the most entertaining wrestler ever.
Kurt Angle may someday outdo him.