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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Clarksdale Giant

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2008 at 1:27 PM

3473/1242671486-clarksdalegiant1.jpg Roaming through the fourth floor of the Lauderdale Library last night, I came across several bound volumes of a now-defunct magazine called Night & Day. As I flipped through the yellowing pages of the July 1953 issue, my one good eye was caught by a story about a fellow named Max Palmer, who became known as the Clarksdale Giant, among other monikers.

The Night & Day story was short, so I’ll just quote it here: “Max Palmer was a normal-sized Clarksdale, Mississippi, boy until he was 14. ‘Then something went haywire,’ he says. Max stopped growing upward when he hit 8′6″ at age 19, but continued to add weight, to the tune of 450 pounds. He wears a size 10 hat, size 64 suit, size 20 shoe on his right foot, size 21 shoe on his left. He has a 22-inch neck, 50-inch chest, 49-inch waist, and 19-inch hands. At 25, he makes his size work for him in the movies. The man with Max [the photo I’ve scanned below] is a healthy 6″2″. Eat your Wheaties every day.”

Yes, the article really does end that way, with that Wheaties plug.

A half-hearted internet search turned up a bit more information about Palmer. According to a brief entry in Wikipedia, he had three sisters, all of normal height. His mother was just 5 feet tall, but no mention was made of his father, which is an aggravating omission, if you ask me. For a two-year period, from 1952 to 1954, he appeared in a handful of low-budget movies, including Invaders from Mars and Killer Ape. Hard to believe, but he supposedly guested on variety shows like the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Comedy Hour.

In the late 1950s, Palmer became a professional wrestler in Salt Lake City, billed — rather unimaginatively, if you ask me, as “Paul Bunyan.” The Wikipedia entry notes that his wrestling career was “short-lived because of alcohol dependence.” In the 1960s, he became an evangelist preacher calling himself “Goliath for Christ.”

In May 1975, Palmer married a woman who was barely five feet tall. I guess he wanted a woman who would always look up to him. When he died in 1984, Palmer was buried in a nine-foot coffin in a cemetery near Pontotoc, Mississippi. It might be interesting to see if the “Clarksdale Giant” has an equally massive tombstone.

Here’s another image from the Night & Day magazine article:

7c12/1242671594-clarksdalegiant2-nd7-53.jpg

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