Andre the Giant, real name Andre Rousimoff, was one of the most well-known and respected professional wrestlers in the world. Originally from a small farm near Grenoble, France, he left home in his adolescence to become a pro wrestler. Being 7'4" and over 500 pounds, the sight of him alone was enough to draw huge crowds. After touring the world with different promotions for many, many years, he was picked up by the World Wide Wrestling Federation (which would later change its name to the World Wrestling Federation in the late 1970s).

Andre was obviously a very imposing figure -- it is said that he never tested the full extent of his true strength because he was afraid of the damage it might cause. Some of Andre's opponents were legitimately afraid to get in the ring with him for fear of getting accidentally crushed or pulverized, but those who got to know him soon learned that his personality was perhaps one of the gentlest in the world.

It is also said that Andre could drink an entire case of beer and not feel so much as a buzz.

He was one of the WWF's most beloved babyfaces throughout the 1970s and early '80s, and was in fact undefeated for over ten years (before losing in 1987, his last defeat was sometime prior to 1977). He was turned heel in 1987 so that he could face Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship in the main event of Wrestlemania III. This was the most highly anticipated professional wrestling matchup in history -- the apex of wrestling's golden era. The event, held at the Pontiac Silverdome, broke the indoor attendance record with over ninety thousand fans in attendance, with many, many more watching on Pay-Per-View. Hogan defeated Andre, in what many experts believe was a passing of the torch from Andre, wrestling's biggest star of the '70s, to Hogan, wrestling's biggest star of the '80s.

Andre also starred in several movies at around the same time, most notably as Fezzik in The Princess Bride.

Unfortunately, the disease that granted him his immense size also began to take its toll on his body, as by the late 1980s Andre was in constant, near-crippling pain and his heart struggled to pump blood throughout his massive being.

He stopped competing in the very early 1990s due to the increasing pain his illness was causing him, retiring to his winery in France. His heart finally failed him in 1993, and Andre passed away peacefully in his sleep at a hotel in Paris while in town for his father's funeral.

He is greatly missed.
A little story about Andre, related in my own words from the preface to the latest edition of "The Princess Bride":

Goldman and Reiner knew from the outset that the role of Fezzik must belong to Andre, and what with one thing and another he never took a screen test. However, when they came to actually read a few scenes with him during preliminary rehearsals, it emerged that he spoke extraordinarily slowly - not at all at the pace of a comedy dialogue!

They tried and tried, giving him gentle hints and then trying to politely explain that he needed, well, to speak a bit faster... But nothing worked. Eventually, Mandy Patinkin (Inigo), who was reading the scene with him, got up on tiptoe and slapped the giant full in the face!

As you can imagine, shocked silence followed the echo of the blow while everyone in the room waited breathlessly to see how this mammoth of a wrestling machine will react to such liberties being taken with his person.

What happened was absolutely nothing. Andre looked at Mandy for a moment and then took it again from the top, this time reading at a much more acceptable speed. The message got through.

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