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World's tallest woman, 53, dies in Indiana


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World's tallest woman, 53, dies in Indiana

 

* Story Highlights

* At 7 feet, 7 inches tall, Sandy Allen was recognized as the world's tallest female

* She died Wednesday in her hometown of Shelbyville, Indiana, family friend said

* Used her height to inspire schoolchildren to accept those who are different

* Suffered from recurring blood infection, diabetes, breathing troubles, kidney failure

 

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (AP) -- A woman who grew to be 7 feet, 7 inches tall (2.31 meters) and was recognized as the world's tallest female died Wednesday, a friend said. She was 53.

 

Sandy Allen, who used her height to inspire schoolchildren to accept those who are different, died at a nursing home in her hometown of Shelbyville, Indiana, family friend Rita Rose said.

 

The cause of death was not yet known. Allen had been hospitalized in recent months as she suffered from a recurring blood infection, along with diabetes, breathing troubles and kidney failure, Rose said.

 

In London, Guinness World Records spokesman Damian Field confirmed Wednesday that Allen was still listed as the tallest woman. Some Web sites cite a 7-foot-9 woman (2.36 meters) from China.

 

Coincidentally, Allen lived in the same nursing home, Heritage House Convalescent Center, as 115-year-old Edna Parker, whom Guinness has recognized as the world's oldest person since August 2007.

 

Allen said a tumor caused her pituitary gland to produce too much growth hormone. She underwent an operation in 1977 to stop further growth.

 

But she was proud of her height, Rose said. "She embraced it," she said. "She used it as a tool to educate people."

 

Allen appeared on television shows and spoke to church and school groups to bring youngsters her message that it was all right to be different.

 

After Allen was listed by Guinness as the world's tallest woman, she won a role in Federico Fellini's 1976 film "Casanova," appearing as "Angelina the Giantess." She was featured in the 1981 Canadian documentary "Being Different." She also appeared in a TV movie called "Side Show" in 1981.

 

She wrote to Guinness World Records in 1974, saying she would like to get to know someone her own height.

 

"It is needless to say my social life is practically nil and perhaps the publicity from your book may brighten my life," she wrote.

 

The recognition as the world's tallest woman helped Allen accept her height and become less shy, Rose said.

 

"It kind of brought her out of her shell," Rose said. "She got to the point where she could joke about it."

 

In the 1980s, she appeared for several years at the Guinness Museum of World Records in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

 

"I'll never forget the old Japanese man who couldn't speak English, so he decided to feel for himself if I was real," she recalled with a chuckle when she moved back to Indiana in 1987.

 

"At Guinness there were days when I felt like I was doing a freak show," she said. "When that feeling came too often, I knew I had to come back home."

 

Difficulty with mobility had forced Allen to curtail her public speaking in recent years, Rose said. She had suffered from diabetes and other ailments and used a wheelchair to get around.

 

A scholarship fund has been set up in Allen's name through the Blue River Community Foundation, Rose said, with proceeds going to Shelbyville High School.

 

"She loved talking to kids because they would ask more honest questions," Rose said. "Adults would kind of stand back and stare and not know how to approach her."

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Charlie, Good job she wasn't lying down in the sourh east corner or she may have died in Ohio and Kentucky too.

 

I have a friend whose home is in Leicestershire,Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire....his home is called Boundary House.

 

Dave

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This is very sad. I saw a TV programme recently about a man in the Ukraine who also had pituitary gigantism and had never had his tumour operated on. Prof Mike Besser from Barts went to meet him and do some tests, the poor man lived in such a remote area he didn't know that much about his condition or about others with it. It turned out that 'his body had cured itself', as he had had an apoplexy or something and his tumour had expired/was no longer active, and he still seemed to have retained his pit function. I think they were calling him the world's tallest man, and the fact that his body had effectively cured itself was pretty miraculous.

 

Anyway, this lovely lady had sent him a video message with kind words of support that made a huge difference to him, and she was also interviewed for the programme. She did seem to be a truly kind and lovely lady and completely accepting of her condition. Her death is a sad loss as I'm sure she helped to educate people and break down many barriers for others with this debilitating condition. I hope she has found peace.

 

Caroline x

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