Eddie Carmel, The Jewish Giant

Famous 1970 Diane Arbus portrait

Eddie Carmel, The Jewish Giant (1936-1972) was born on this day. Born in Tel Aviv, not far from the stomping grounds of the Biblical Philistine Goliath, Carmel was raised in the Bronx and did most of his performing at the legendary Hubert’s Museum in Times Square. Advertised as 8’9″, he may have been as much as a foot and a half shorter, although he sure looks to be the hyped height in photos:

3/15/02 eddie carmel in times square upi photo 7/1/61

Carmel was normal-sized until he was around 15 or 16, when acromegaly set in. In addition to his work in circuses and sideshows, he was in demand for advertisements and appeared as monsters in two films, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962), and 50,000 B.C. (Before Clothing) (1963). He also worked as a professional wrestler. He retired in 1969 for health reasons.

Sound Portraits did a wonderful radio documentary and accompanying book about him. Learn about that project here. 

Said to have the deepest voice in show business, Carmel was also in demand for voice overs. Thus, this fairly inexplicable 45. Jeez, he must have been a good sport.

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc


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