Johann Petursson – Viking giant (8 photos + 1 video)

Category: Nostalgia, PEGI 0+
19 February 2024

Becoming and growing tall is an important component of success and interest from others.

At one time, Johann Petursson was the tallest man in the world. During his lifetime he was officially dethroned by the colossal Robert Wadlow, but he is perhaps best remembered for his publicity, personality and longevity.

Johann was born in Dalvik, Iceland on February 9, 1913. At birth the boy received the name Johann Svarfelingur. The third child out of nine was the only one of outstanding size. By the age of twenty, Johann's height was supposedly 232 centimeters. Despite his impressive size, the guy was a gentle and soft person, he loved to tinker with children, who for him were tantamount to toys.

As a teenager, Johann was a popular boy, but this was due more to his outgoing personality than to his height. In his city, he was not treated as unique, and the locals barely raised an eyebrow when the giant passed by. Petursson was just one of the guys that everyone loved. Unfortunately, due to his height, he could not find a job in his hometown. Johann simply could not squeeze into the tiny local shops.

In 1934, Johann went to Denmark and it was there that he realized that he could make a living simply by showing himself. They sewed him a beautiful suit to fit his figure, and he went in search of fame and fortune.

Johann Petursson turned out to be very successful and in demand in Europe. He performed in music halls, accompanied by two dwarfs. His diminutive partners played small accordions, while Petursson stood between them and played huge instruments. Performances continued for several years, until World War II. During the conflict, Petursson ended up in Copenhagen, where he got a job in the shipyards.

Unlike many giants, who are actually quite fragile physically, Johann was distinguished by good health and phenomenal strength. After the war ended, Petursson resumed touring Europe until he was discovered by John Ringling of Ringling Bros. and did not sign a contract to perform in the United States.

Johann Petursson began touring with the show in 1948. Dressed in an Edwardian hat and tails, he began to receive a salary of $200 a week. The giant also began selling huge rings as souvenirs. Although these rings fit him well, they could also fit a dollar coin through them.

Petursson's time with Ringling Bros. was short-lived. He soon joined the show, which was directed by Glen Porter, and it was under his leadership that he gained incredible fame. Porter, aware of Johann's Icelandic and Scandinavian roots, asked his wife to make a national costume and sourced a giant helmet. Johann became known as the "Viking Giant" and his popularity immediately skyrocketed.

In the end, Johann turned out to be so popular that he went free. Petursson created the show "Loner", a traveling show in which he was the only star. In just five years, he accumulated more than $50,000, which was a colossal amount for that time. Johann then decided to show off his enormous size on the silver screen. In 1950, he starred in the film Prehistoric Women with Jayne Mansfield as the giant Guadi. Thirty years later, he starred in the film Cairnie with Jodie Foster and Gary Busey. In 1981, together with his colleague Robert Melvin, he starred in the stunning documentary film “Being Different.”

"Prehistoric Women"

At the incredible age of 69 for a giant, Johann retired and moved to Gibsonton, Florida. However, his health quickly deteriorated, and soon he went to his brother in his favorite childhood city of Dalvik. There, on November 26, 1984, Johann Petursson died. Now there is a museum not far from his grave. The personal belongings of the Viking giant still attract crowds of curious andevoke a feeling of delight and surprise.

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