Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Sandy Allen, the World's Tallest Woman

If you'd ever tuned into any of several documentaries on one of the Discovery networks and saw Sandy Allen, you'd remember her. Not just because she stood taller than everyone else (all the women, at least), at 7' 7 1/4 ", but because she seemed like such a nice woman. Always with a smile on her face, and a genuine one, watching Sandy Allen interact with a fascinated public was enlightening. Intelligent, patient and with a winningly self-deprecating sense of humor, Sandy was a wonder.

She died today in Indiana, where she was living in a rest home as her health deteriorated, suffering from a variety of ailments directly or indirectly related to the medical condition which caused her extreme height. Sandy was only fifty-three years old, and I hadn't realized she was exactly one year and one day younger than me. As a fellow Gemini, no doubt Sandy had a side to her that the public didn't see, probably one that contemplated the quirk of birth that thrust her into the spotlight as the world's tallest woman. I especially admire this quote about her time working as an attraction at the Guinness Museum in Ontario, Canada: "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." (Born in Chicago, home for Sandy was Indianapolis, and at the time of her death she was living in nearby Shelbyville, interestingly at the same facility where the current world's oldest woman still lives.)

I've always been in awe and impressed by Sandy Allen, a woman who took the unusual lot that life handed her and made the very best of it. Many of us came to know her through her television appearances, and The Flaming Nose extends our deepest sympathy to all her family and friends. She made so many of them during her remarkable life, whether she knew us or not.

Sandy Elaine Allen, 1955 - 2008.


Jane said...

What an absolutely beautiful tribute to an amazing woman. It made me cry! Rest in peace Sandy...

Dean Treadway said...

Great sense of humor!! Very sad her passing. Looks like she made an impact on a lot of lives!

Anonymous said...

Very nice blog. Only one detail: Sandy lived in Indy for several years but originally was from Shelbyville, where she spent her last years in a nursing home. Here's some info on a scholarship fund that was set up in Sandy's name and a bit about my new novel about Sandy's high school life. I knew her for 31 years and she was a funny, compassionate, awesome lady!

Donations to the scholarship fund, which benefits students at Shelbyville High School, Allen's alma mater, can be made by going to

Click on "online giving" then "honorary gifts," then fill in Sandy Allen Scholarship Fund in the appropriate box. Or, you can mail a
tax-deductible donation to: Blue River?Foundation, 54 W. Broadway
St., Suite 1, Shelbyville, IN 46176.
My book, "World's Tallest Woman: The Giantess of Shelbyville High," will be out in November. Book signings will be Nov. 1 at 3 Sisters Books in Shelbyville and Nov. 8 at Borders Merchants Pointe in Carmel.

Rita Rose