August 15, 2008 by

Sandy Allen


Categories: Extraordinary People

At 7 feet, 7 1/4 inches, Sandra Elaine Allen stood out in a crowd. Heads turned in her direction when she entered a room, and they all had to look up just to see her face. Allen’s height separated her from the rest of society, but it also made her distinct. Over time, she embraced her stature and used it to teach children about accepting others who were different.
“I’m very proud of being tall. And what I try to do — if I can help even one person in my lifetime with their attitude toward life, then it’s all worth it,” Allen once said.
The Chicago native was only 6 1/2 pounds at birth. A tumor caused her pituitary gland to produce an excess of growth hormone, and by the time she was 10, Allen had reached a height of 6 feet 3 inches. She surpassed 7 feet in her late teens, and underwent an operation in 1977 to stop further growth.
Allen’s school years were quite difficult because few of her peers would socialize with someone so tall. Since no stores sold clothing in her size, she had to make all of her own outfits. Allen purchased her shoes from a king-sized men’s store (size 16EEE) and set her desk on blocks in order to write or type. Such are the trials of people with gigantism. They struggle to fit in, even when nothing seems to fit them.
Recognition by the Guinness World Records in 1975 as the tallest woman on the planet changed everything. Allen cast off her shyness and did guest appearances on numerous television shows. She appeared in the Academy Award-winning film “Il Casanova di Federico Fellini” and made several appearances at the Guinness Museum of World Records.
In 2001, her life story was chronicled in the book, “Cast a Giant Shadow: The Inspirational Life Story of Sandy Allen ‘The Tallest Woman in the World'” by John Kleiman. She was also immortalized in the Split Enz song “Hello Sandy Allen.”
The final decade of Allen’s life was spent at the Heritage House Convalescent Center, dealing with various health issues related to her size. The Shelbyville, Ind., nursing home is also the residence of Edna Parker, 115, the world’s oldest person.
Allen, 53, died on Aug. 13 from complications of diabetes and blood infections. She was buried in a custom-made, 8 foot 5 inch casket that will occupy four burial plots.

7 Responses to Sandy Allen

  1. Rita

    This is a great early interview …. however, it wasn’t her thyroid that caused her rapid growth, it was a tumor on her pituitary gland, which was removed 2 years after this video interview. Guess the reporter didn’t do her homework.
    Sandy was indeed a special lady and my friend for 31 years. I have a new book coming out about her at the end of October, “World’s Tallest Woman: The Giantess of Shelbyville High,” from Hawthorne Publishing. We have established a scholarship fund in her name to benefit students at the high school. Send contributions to:
    Blue River Community Foundation
    54 W. Broadway, Suite 1
    Shelbyville, IN 46176
    Put “Sandy Allen Fund” in the memo line. Or go to and click on “funds,” then her name. All contributions are tax deductible. Thanks.
    Rita Rose

  2. gustavo garcia

    the short period of time you spent on this earth could not be possibly enough to enjoy your greatness to the fullest however you left us with a memory that will last for a lifetime for all of those who knew you and will forever remember you .Because your even bigger then your anatomy was your heart and nice personality that and all of the things you did to make a difference will remain through time and will go on and on and on

  3. Louisa Thompson

    I saw Sandy on a documentary and thought she was a fatastic lady. I have only just learned of her deatth and am sadened by it. RIP Sandy. WHAT A GREAT LADY.

  4. Billy Sonnier

    I was very touched by Sandy Allens interview,
    She was an insperation to me who happens to be a fat man but like her I never considered my self a freak I just wished I could have met her in person.
    god bless her

  5. Will Fisher

    Years ago when my wife and I were vacationing at
    Niagara Falls, We went to the Guinness World
    Records Museum. That is where we met Sandy Allen.
    She was lying down and seemed very uncomfortable.
    We felt very sorry for her.

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