All the world’s best feats in one book

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 2, 2000

Growing up, I had a shelf full of books in my room. From Hardy Boys mysteries to a well used set of &uot;Easy Readers,&uot; my mother made sure there was no shortage of things for me to read.

Looking back, I guess I read most of those books. But three titles, all of which resided for years on the night table beside my bed, come to mind as favorites: Jack London’s &uot;Call of the Wild&uot;; a worn paperback copy of Fred Gipson’s &uot;Old Yeller&uot;; and a mid-1970s &uot;Guinness Book of World Records.&uot;

All of the books were fascinating, but the &uot;Guinness Book&uot; was the ultimate 5- to 10-minute read. After I read the others a couple of the times, it got the most use.

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I remember the photo of the tallest man on record at the time standing next to his very short father and brother, the big fat guy riding the 50cc &uot;mini-bike&uot; down the street and the man (I believe it was a man) with very, very long fingernails.

The study in extremes was just too much. I read it from cover to cover, several times.

While walking through our newsroom the other day I noticed a later installment of the book, the first I have seen since the 1970s I guess, and I couldn’t resist picking it up and reading it. The 1999 paperback is titled &uot;The Guinness Book of Records.&uot; &uot;World&uot; is dropped from the name but the book is otherwise very similar to my night table copy.

Here are a few of the more interesting passages I found in the 1999 edition:

Most weight gained for a film appearance — Robert De Niro gained a total of 60 pounds for his role as the heavyweight boxer Jake La Motta in the classic move Raging Bull (1980).

Most married Hollywood stars — Actors Stan Laurel, Mickey Rooney, Lana Turner, Georgia Holt and Zsa Zsa Gabor have all been married a total of eight times. Elizabeth Taylor has also married eight times to date, but has only had seven different husbands; she married Richard Burton twice.

Most leading roles — John Wayne was in 153 films from The Drop Kick (1927) to The Shootist (1976). In all but 11, he played the lead.

Highest earnings by a sportsman — By 1999 Michael Jordan had earned more money during his basketball career than any other sportsman. His earnings had exceeded $300 million.

Most fan clubs — There are more than 480 active Elvis Presley fan clubs worldwide.

Richest man — Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has a net worth of $39.8 billion. His wealth now exceeds that of the Sultan of Brunei, whose fortune is estimated to be $38 billion.

Most valuable brand name — Coca-Cola was worth $48 billion in 1997.

Tallest people — The tallest ever person for whom there is irrefutable evidence was Robert Wadlow (U.S.), who was 8 ft. 11 1/10 inches tall when he was last measured in 1940, just before his death.

Heaviest person — The heaviest person in medical history was Jon Minnoch of Bainbridge Island, Washington, who was 6 ft. 1 inch tall and weighed more than 1,403 pounds when he was rushed to the hospital for respiratory failure in 1978.

Heaviest single birth — Anna Bates (Canada) gave birth to a 23-lb.-12-oz. Boy in Seville, Ohio in 1879.

Longest hair — Hu Saelao of Thailand is one of several people claiming to have the longest hair in the world. His is 16 ft. 10 inches long.

Longest life — The greatest fully authenticated age to which a human being has ever lived is 122 years, 164 days by Jean Calment (France). She died on Aug. 4, 1997.

Most expensive war — The material cost of World War II has been estimated at $1.5 trillion, far in excess of all other wars put together.

Most successful music group — The Beatles have sold around 1 billion records and cassettes and had a record 18 number one U.S. albums.

Most Olympic Summer Games medals by a country — U.S.A, 2015; Soviet Union, 1234; Great Britain, 635.

Todd Carpenter is publisher of The Democrat. You can reach him by calling 446-5172, ext. 218 or at