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Who Was Maurice Tillet? The French Angel Wrestler | Biography By Pollytoo

Maurice Tillet Biography

In this article we are discussing about the Maurice Tillet Biography, Death date, All details have been updated below. Let’s check,

Birth Name – Maurice Marie Joseph Tillet.

Nickname – French Angel.

Born – 23rd October 1903, in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Died – 4th September 1954, in Chicago, Illinois, USA (heart disease and acromegaly)

Q – How did Maurice Tillet die?

Ans – Cardiovascular disease

Maurice Tillet, better known by his Professional wrestling name, “The French Angel”.
Maurice was born in St. Petersburg, Russia on 23rd October 1903. He grew up to become a wrestler.

He was best known for his unusual and menacing appearance, that was a result of acromegaly, a syndrome in which the pituitary gland produces excess growth hormone. Andre the giant was another wrestler who would later suffer from this condition.

Maurice Tillet

Tillet’s acromegaly led to a disproportionately large head, hands, and feet. Tillet was also known as “the freak ogre of the ring.” He was well-known to finish off his opponents with his signature “Bear Hug.”

Tillet was very popular in the 1940s, and also nicknamed The French Angel as a child due to his angelic face. Despite what some have described as a primitive look, Tillet was well-educated, speaking a rumored fourteen languages and holding a college degree.

He was also said to be a great writer.

Several knockoff “angel” wrestlers appeared after Maurice Tillet, including the Swedish Angel, who bore a striking resemblance to Maurice
(see below).

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Maurice Tillet

Tillet died at the age of 50 on 4th Sept 1954, in Chicago due to heart disease, only hours after his manager Karl Pojello died. His obituary suggested that his grief over losing his manager, along with heart disease, played a part in Tillet’s death. just prior to his death, he had casts made of his head, and subsequent “death masks” were also created.

One rumor states that animators at DreamWorks were inspired by these masks in their creation of the Shrek model.

Although acromegaly was 1st described in 1886, contemporary newspaper articles about Tillet often described him as a sort of primitive human. 27 July, 1943 preview in the Eugene Register-Guard, for eg. reports, “Tillet, the 280-pound ex-French a sailor who was exploited after being discovered in Mongolia, is considered the strongest man alive for his size 5’8.

Scientists at Harvard University studied the ‘Angel,’ as he’s best-known in wrestling circles, and declared him the closest thing to Neanderthal man…” indeed, in 1942 a group of Harvard scientists describes Tillet as a “living replica of the famous Neanderthal man,” (Reading Eagle, April 7, 1942, p.15) but noted that it was merely a similarity in measurements due to acromegaly.

It appears that this comparison was used to hype Tillet’s appearances in fight previews,
and some writers referred to him as “Neanderthal Man.”

This blog has an impressive collection of Tillet photos and newspaper clippings.

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Maurice Tillet Shrek

William Stein wrote and illustrated the 1990 book Shrek about an ogre who leaves his home in a swamp and saves a princess.
It was adapted by Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg into the 2001 DreamWorks Film of the same name.

Stein’s original illustrations of Shrek didn’t draw comparisons to Tillet, but the final DreamWorks version did. prior to the character’s final animated appearance, Shrek went through a long evolution in part due to major changes in casting and technology.

Comedic actor Chris Farley was originally slated to voice Shrek and had recorded a large portion of the dialogue (various sources claim anywhere from 80th to 95%) before his unexpected death in late 1997 at the age of thirty-three. after Tillet’s death, the script was re-worked to accommodate Myers’ new interpretation of the character. The Movie was also planned to be an old-school stop-motion picture, that was quickly panned by executives.

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Maurice Tillet

No Confirmation:

Some writers quote an anonymous blogger who supposedly worked at DreamWorks, and stated that photos of “wrestling oddballs”
such as The Swedish Angel, Irish Angel, and French Angel hung on the walls for inspiration. As of this writing, no sources related to the movie have gone on record to verify that Tillet inspired the creation of the Shrek model.

In 2014, The Huffington Post (American News) attempted to get a quote from a DreamWorks spokesman on the subject, but the request was not answered.

Some writers have speculated that DreamWorks has not admitted to Tillet’s inspiration for fear that it should be liable to pay his family royalties. there’s no evidence to support or refute this, however.

Maurice Tillet

Other Candidates:

Several other men have been mentioned as possible inspirations for Shrek.

Rondo Hatton – an actor who also suffered from acromegaly
Chris Farley. The heavyset comedic actor was originally cast to voice Shrek. it’s been asserted that the original models of Shrek were created with Farley in mind (see above).

Michael Eisner – although some have advised that Disney executive Michael Eisner may have inspired Shrek, it’s more likely that he might have inspired the diminutive Lord Farquaad character.

Swedish Angel. Phil Olafsson also suffered from acromegaly and wrestled in the 1940s. The anonymous quote from an alleged DreamWorks the employee states that Olafsson and others were used as inspiration.


It has been recommended that wrestler Maurice Tillet, also called The French Angel, was a great inspiration for the DreamWorks version of Shrek. There are obvious similarities between Tillet and Shrek, and it’s possible that the wrestler was one of several models from which animators Drew inspiration without confirmation, Maurice Tillet’s influence on Shrek is merely speculation.

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One Comment

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