man in recorded medical history, Robert Earl Hughes was born at
Kenton, Missouri on June 4, 1926, weighing 11 ¼ pounds at birth.
At the age of three months he was stricken with whooping cough,
after which he began gaining weight uncontrollably. The official
explanation for his enormous size was that his coughing fits
during his illness had ruptured his thyroid gland. Whether or
not this was true, Hughes weighed 375 pounds at the age of 10
and was so large by the seventh grade that he had to drop out of
school. By age 20, he weighed 710 pounds, and all attempts to
lose weight by dieting were failures. His mother died while he
was a teenager, and he was cared for by his father, Abraham, and
two average-sized brothers, Guy and Don, and their wives.
Hughes measured over 10 feet around the waist, stood over 6 feet
tall, and is the only confirmed human being in history to weigh
over 1,000 pounds. He measured 29" around the elbow and 33"
around the knee, and wore size 11 shoes. He had to weigh himself
on the feed scale at the general store and rode in the back of a
truck with a custom-made bench, as he could not fit into a car.
In his home, he sat on special reinforced benches and slept on a
reinforced bed. All of his clothing was custom-made; a shirt
required five yards of cloth, and his pants boasted a 110"
waist, 128" seat, 62" thigh and 46" knee.
Despite Hughes' extreme difficulty getting around, he maintained
a bright and cheerful disposition. He loved to read, write
letters, and listen to the radio, and enjoyed visiting the
county fair every year – as a guest, not an attraction. For most
of his life he refused to go on tour with a circus or carnival,
though he received many offers.
1956 Hughes was booked to appear on The Wally Jackson Show as
the World's Biggest Santa Claus. He flew to New York City in a
freight airplane and stayed there for three weeks. When network
red tape prevented the filming, Hughes returned to his home in
Fish Hook, grumbling, "There'll be no more wild goose chases for
me" – his television career was over, before it had even
last, in 1958, Hughes consented to be exhibited with the Gooding
Bros. Amusement Company. While touring Indiana, he fell ill with
measles, which in turn caused him to become uremic. He was taken
to the hospital in his show trailer, but was too large to fit
inside the building. Doctors treated Hughes in his trailer as it
sat parked behind the hospital, but after a week of treatment
they were unable to save him. His weight at death was 1,069
pounds. He was embalmed in the bed where he had spent most of
his life, and interred in a custom-built coffin. His grave is in
Benville Cemetery, Mt. Sterling, Illinois.
Elizabeth Anderson Pheerque -Text
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