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Bob Osborne | 'George The Giant' great uncle

BOB OSBORNE

'George The Giant' great uncle

Click on a picture to launch a slideshow of all the pictures in the gallery.

  • William Henry Auger 1881-1922 aka 'George the Giant' was my Great Uncle (maternal).  » Click to zoom ->

    William Henry Auger 1881-1922 aka 'George the Giant' was my Great Uncle (maternal).

  • As a young man George Auger served as a police officer in Cardiff. After moving to London, Auger was often assigned to Queen Victoria's personal police escort squad. It was the Queen herself who nicknamed him 'Captain' despite him not being a ranking officer.  » Click to zoom ->

    As a young man George Auger served as a police officer in Cardiff. After moving to London, Auger was often assigned to Queen Victoria's personal police escort squad. It was the Queen herself who nicknamed him 'Captain' despite him not being a ranking officer.

  • George Auger married his wife Elizabeth while still living in London and went to the U.S. in 1903 and began touring with Barnum and Bailey that year. Like Chang the Chinese Giant whom he succeeded, he was intelligent and was knowledgeable on the subject of giants. He spent his retirement years writing short stories and skits. He died in New York City in 1922 supposedly of digestive problems after a particularly large meal at the home of a friend on Thanksgiving Day.  » Click to zoom ->

    George Auger married his wife Elizabeth while still living in London and went to the U.S. in 1903 and began touring with Barnum and Bailey that year. Like Chang the Chinese Giant whom he succeeded, he was intelligent and was knowledgeable on the subject of giants. He spent his retirement years writing short stories and skits. He died in New York City in 1922 supposedly of digestive problems after a particularly large meal at the home of a friend on Thanksgiving Day.

  • George Auger "The Welsh Giant" holding "Klikko" on his shoulder while a large group of Ringling Brothers Circus freaks look on. Photo taken in 1916.  » Click to zoom ->

    George Auger "The Welsh Giant" holding "Klikko" on his shoulder while a large group of Ringling Brothers Circus freaks look on. Photo taken in 1916.

  • Promoting the silent film 'Why Worry' with Silent Comedy star Harold Lloyd  » Click to zoom ->

    Promoting the silent film 'Why Worry' with Silent Comedy star Harold Lloyd

  • George Auger was originally chosen for the role of Colosso in the Harold Lloyd movie 'Why Worry?', but died before filming started. John Aasen replaced him in this movie. His height was often claimed as 8 feet 4 inches, but he probably was not taller than 7 feet 5 inches.  » Click to zoom ->

    George Auger was originally chosen for the role of Colosso in the Harold Lloyd movie 'Why Worry?', but died before filming started. John Aasen replaced him in this movie. His height was often claimed as 8 feet 4 inches, but he probably was not taller than 7 feet 5 inches.

  • Auger with film star Harold Lloyd, midget Princess  Wee Wee and Francesco Lentini – The Three- Legged Man.  » Click to zoom ->

    Auger with film star Harold Lloyd, midget Princess Wee Wee and Francesco Lentini – The Three- Legged Man.

  • My Great Uncle George Auger with Douglas Fairbanks in USA c 1920  » Click to zoom ->

    My Great Uncle George Auger with Douglas Fairbanks in USA c 1920

  • Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin  » Click to zoom ->

    Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin

  • With Mr and Mrs Doll  » Click to zoom ->

    With Mr and Mrs Doll

  • The real Cardiff Giant – not to be confused with the famous forgery of the same name – was Captain William George Auger. Born at Cardiff, Wales, December 27, 1882, Auger came from a family of average-sized people; his mother was 5'2" and his father 6'. By the age of six, George was too tall to sit in his mother's lap, and fully grown he stood 7'4 ½" tall – though he claimed to be 8'4" or even 9' – and weighed 320 pounds. As a young man he served as a London policeman, but found it hard to be taken seriously because of his size. When he attended the Barnum and Bailey Circus he found himself a full head and shoulders taller than their "giant", and they hired him on the spot. He joined the circus, he said, "to make as many people happy as possible." His wife, 5'4"-tall Bertha, remained by his side throughout his travels. 
Auger first came to the United States aboard the steamship La Bretagne ("the Breton") from Le Havre, France, in 1903, to appear with the Barnum and Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden. Also appearing that season were the Horvath midgets from Hungary, and Auger was often placed amongst them for contrast. He was especially close friends with Paul Horompo; he served as a witness at Paul's wedding to Anna "Anita" Mihaly, and was famously photographed carrying Paul in his back pocket. In 1906 a play called Jack, the Giant Killer, written by Auger himself, premiered on the Orpheum vaudeville stage starring Auger as the giant, Ernst Rommel as Jack, and the rest of the Hovarth midgets as the supporting cast. Jack ran for ten years. 

The Augers, George and Bertha, made their home on a farm near Fairfield, Connecticut, where he liked to play the saxophone in his spare time and kept a pet bulldog named Ringling. George became a U.S. citizen in 1911, and during World War I he was pressed into service as a bond salesman. 

In the summer of 1922 Auger returned to the sideshow stage, along with Harry and Daisy Doll of the German Doll Family, as part of the Ringling Bros., Barnum and Baily Circus. At the same time, the great silent comedian Harold Lloyd was seeking a giant to appear in his film Why Worry?, and set his sights on Auger. As a Hollywood actor, Auger would make $350 a week (about $4,300) – while as a circus giant he made only $50 a week (about $600). 

That fall, however, Auger was taken ill with indigestion in his apartment in New York City. He died on November 30, 1922. Over a thousand mourners, many of them children, turned out for his funeral. 

Photo: George Auger with Paul Horompo of Horvath's Midgets.  » Click to zoom ->

    The real Cardiff Giant – not to be confused with the famous forgery of the same name – was Captain William George Auger. Born at Cardiff, Wales, December 27, 1882, Auger came from a family of average-sized people; his mother was 5'2" and his father 6'. By the age of six, George was too tall to sit in his mother's lap, and fully grown he stood 7'4 ½" tall – though he claimed to be 8'4" or even 9' – and weighed 320 pounds. As a young man he served as a London policeman, but found it hard to be taken seriously because of his size. When he attended the Barnum and Bailey Circus he found himself a full head and shoulders taller than their "giant", and they hired him on the spot. He joined the circus, he said, "to make as many people happy as possible." His wife, 5'4"-tall Bertha, remained by his side throughout his travels. Auger first came to the United States aboard the steamship La Bretagne ("the Breton") from Le Havre, France, in 1903, to appear with the Barnum and Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden. Also appearing that season were the Horvath midgets from Hungary, and Auger was often placed amongst them for contrast. He was especially close friends with Paul Horompo; he served as a witness at Paul's wedding to Anna "Anita" Mihaly, and was famously photographed carrying Paul in his back pocket. In 1906 a play called Jack, the Giant Killer, written by Auger himself, premiered on the Orpheum vaudeville stage starring Auger as the giant, Ernst Rommel as Jack, and the rest of the Hovarth midgets as the supporting cast. Jack ran for ten years. The Augers, George and Bertha, made their home on a farm near Fairfield, Connecticut, where he liked to play the saxophone in his spare time and kept a pet bulldog named Ringling. George became a U.S. citizen in 1911, and during World War I he was pressed into service as a bond salesman. In the summer of 1922 Auger returned to the sideshow stage, along with Harry and Daisy Doll of the German Doll Family, as part of the Ringling Bros., Barnum and Baily Circus. At the same time, the great silent comedian Harold Lloyd was seeking a giant to appear in his film Why Worry?, and set his sights on Auger. As a Hollywood actor, Auger would make $350 a week (about $4,300) – while as a circus giant he made only $50 a week (about $600). That fall, however, Auger was taken ill with indigestion in his apartment in New York City. He died on November 30, 1922. Over a thousand mourners, many of them children, turned out for his funeral. Photo: George Auger with Paul Horompo of Horvath's Midgets.

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  • George Auger (right) and Feodor Machnow (left) in the U.S., 1906. The Russian giant was 7ft 10" and was touring as the tallest man in the world at that time.  » Click to zoom ->

    George Auger (right) and Feodor Machnow (left) in the U.S., 1906. The Russian giant was 7ft 10" and was touring as the tallest man in the world at that time.

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  • Captain Geo. Auger and Ernest Rommell- Tallest man in world and smallest comedian on stage in 'Jack the Giant Killer' in USA.  » Click to zoom ->

    Captain Geo. Auger and Ernest Rommell- Tallest man in world and smallest comedian on stage in 'Jack the Giant Killer' in USA.

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  • Picture of original contract between Hal Roach and George Auger for the Harold lloyd movie 'Why Worry' 1923, Signed 14 September 1922, 6 weeks before his umtimely death.  » Click to zoom ->

    Picture of original contract between Hal Roach and George Auger for the Harold lloyd movie 'Why Worry' 1923, Signed 14 September 1922, 6 weeks before his umtimely death.

  • A giant-said to be the tallest man but one in the world-figured as defendent in the Marylebone Police court recently. He was described as an actor William Henry Augur by name, of 40 St Mary's Square, Kensington, and he stands 7ft 4in in his socks. When in the dock his legs reached the topmost rail. He was prosecuted by a diminutive woman, to whom he was ordered to pay certain arrears.  » Click to zoom ->

    A giant-said to be the tallest man but one in the world-figured as defendent in the Marylebone Police court recently. He was described as an actor William Henry Augur by name, of 40 St Mary's Square, Kensington, and he stands 7ft 4in in his socks. When in the dock his legs reached the topmost rail. He was prosecuted by a diminutive woman, to whom he was ordered to pay certain arrears.

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