It seems like the popular animated figure is based on a real person, known as the “French Angel

The plot of the animated film Shrek is not based on real time events, but is the animated character Shrek modelled after the French wrestler Maurice Tillet?

The Frenchman was born in 1903 in Russia. When Maurice was 17 he was diagnosed with the rare syndrome Acromegaly. The syndrome causes the joints in the body to grow uncontrollably, and usually affects people in adulthood. The syndrome often results in premature death. Maurice was no exception.

Maurice Tillet

Maurice Tillet (photo: side3.no)

The freak ogre thing

Maurice was not a bad man, even though he was labelled as beast and a freak – this later became his nickname when he started his wrestling career. He always thought he would be a lawyer, but his illness prevented him from pursuing a career in law.

When he served in the French military, he worked as an engineer for five years. He could master 14 different languages, and he was also a poet.

In February of 1937, Maurice met the professional wrestler Karl Pojello in Singapore. Pojello was already a household name in the sport, and convinced Maurice to start a career in wrestling. The two men moved to Paris to do their training, and after two years they fled to USA in 1929 because of the Second World War.

The French Angel

Maurice had success instantly as a professional wrestler. After a while, he was no longer known as “freak show” or “the freak ogre thing”, he was now the French Angle. He was actually so good that he in 1944 was named the world champion of the American Wrestling Association, after defeating Steve “Crusher” Casey in a fight. The Frenchman had two moves that soon became his trademark in the ring. “Palm Strike” was his final grip, but he was most associated with the “Bear hug”.

Maurice was unstoppable and he had not lost a single fight in months before his last game in 1946 in Singapore, where it all started, it also ended in defeat by the English wrestler Barolomeo “Bert” Assirati. His condition was weakened by all the years of wrestling, and he quit the same year.

In August 1954, Mauric accepted a request from the York Barbell Museum: They wanted to make casts of his face and head, so that the giant head on the basis of the rare disease could be studied retrospectively. Three weeks later he died of a heart attack.

The French Angel Print Screen: side3.no

The French Angel (photo: side3.no)

And so it became, that 50 years later one of the all-time most popular animated characters was probably modelled after these castings.

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