In the quaint village of Ridhaun, Maria Fassnauer, affectionately known as Mariedl, was born on February 28, 1879. Her life would unfold as a captivating narrative, leaving an indelible mark as the Giantess of Tirol. Hailing from a modest farming family, Maria’s extraordinary growth commenced at the tender age of three, propelling her to a towering height of 7 feet 1 inch by the time she turned 15.
The sheer magnitude of Maria’s stature captured widespread attention, with Tyrolean media dedicating extensive coverage to the “tallest female person of Tyrol.” However, life took an unforeseen turn for Maria when she became the focus of side-show operators. Persistent offers, coupled with financial strains on her family, prompted Maria to embark on a transformative seven-year tour across Europe, accompanied by her devoted sister.
From the cultural hubs of Vienna and Berlin to the bustling cities of Hamburg and London, and even gracing the World’s Fair in Brussels, Maria emerged as a luminary at fairs and festivals. Advertisements fueled intrigue about the “tallest woman who ever lived.” Despite her earnings, Maria remained committed to providing for her family, often forgoing personal expenses. Throughout her captivating performances, she maintained a distinctive appearance, draped in traditional peasant attire and a Tyrolean hat strategically chosen to accentuate her towering height.
Yet, Maria’s life in the spotlight proved to be isolating. Show operators confined her public presence to performances, maximizing their profits. Despite grappling with physical challenges, including ulcerated legs from prolonged standing, Maria persisted through her role as the “Monster for Millions.”
In 1913, after years of navigating this challenging lifestyle, Maria Faßnauer chose to relinquish the title of the “Monster for Millions” and returned to Ridnaun. Her emotional and physical well-being significantly compromised, she spent her final years on her parents’ farm. Maria Fassnauer departed from this world at the age of 38 on December 4, 1917, leaving behind a legacy that challenges conventional notions of fame and the toll it exacts on an individual. Inga Hosp’s poignant book, “Die Riesin von Tirol” (The Giant Woman of Tyrol), intricately chronicles Maria’s journey, offering a reflective exploration of a life lived under the relentless gaze of the spotlight.
Back to the tallest people ever.