The world’s tallest woman, Sandy Allen, was laid to rest today in Shelbyville, Ind. She died Aug.13 at 53. When she received her title from the Guiness Book of World Records, she was 7 foot-7 1/4 inches tall.
In Oct., Hawthorne publishes Rita Rose’s “The World’s Tallest Women: The Giantess of Shelbyville High.” Rose, an alumna of the Indianapolis Star, had been a friend of Allen’s for 30 years and was with her until the night before she died. She delivered the very touching eulogy today. She told me Allen had appeared in the Fellini film, “Casanova” in a scene wrestling with midgets. She was featured in the Canadian documentary, “Being Different.” And also appeared in the 1981 telefilm, “Side Show” with Connie Stevens and Red Buttons. I asked Connie her recollections of Allen: “We had lunch practically every day she was on the set. She was so sweet. I got to know her and I was able to ask her personal questions. She had a great sense of humor — and very open — talking about things I never could ask her — or do. I wanted to see her again but when I finally was back there — she was gone. I feel badly. She was such a sweet person.”
There were flowers from the Indiana Pacers, the Las Vegas Tall Club, Ripley’s Believe It, hundreds from Shelbyville fans who lined the streets as the casket (101″ x 37″ — above), in a horse-drawn carriage was taken from the shurch to the cemetary. Some mourners carried signs saying “God Bless You” and “We Love You.” As Rose told me, “It was like a Head Of State had died.” In her eulogy, “Sandy had once said, ‘getting intoo the Guinness Book of Records really changed my life. It had given me the opportunity to travel all over the world, see places I would only have dreamed of — and it sort of brought me out of my shell.”
One of the places she visited was Hollywood where she guested with an always-gracious Merv Griffin. At the funeral was her agent John Kleuman who had written her biography, “Cast A Giant Shadow” with her in 2002. He said,”Sandy taught me to be patient, to persevere and gave me hope that there would always be bettter days.” Rose’s book is a fictionalized account of their friendship in high school. Rose also remarked in her farewell that Allen “Didn’t like to watch herself on TV, but she enjoyed filming documentaries.” She farewelled with, “Sandy Allen was a gentle giant who was beloved around the world. She has a caring spirit and that spirit will remain in all of us as long as we keep Sandy in our hearts.” Her story also touched those of us who had never known the gentle giant…
Army is going on vacation for a week and will continue blogging upon his return.