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Count Olaf, the Norweigan Viking Giant, was born in Oslo, Norway, Oct. 18, 1906. He was born a healthy boy weighing twelve pounds. His parents are normal people. His father measures five feet, nine inches and weights 145 pounds. His mother is just a little smaller. He is the only boy in the family but he has two sisters younger than himself of ordinary size. [...] There is no way of accounting for his enormous size except that we know he is a direct descendant of the Norwegian Viking, Olaf Sigurdson, who was a giant king among giants. That is how Olaf gets the title of Count.

(from "Life History of Count Olaf, the Norwegian Viking Giant")

Not quite - Count Olaf was actually Clifford Marshall Thompson, a Norwegian-American farm boy from Rugby, North Dakota. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Julius Gustavus Thompson, moved to Scandanavia, Wisconsin, shortly after the birth of their son. Clifford kept growing long after other boys his age had stopped, and eventually reached the height of eight feet, six inches, making him one of the tallest men in history. Despite the limitations of his size, Clifford managed to finish school in nearby Stevens Point before embarking on a career as a professional giant.

Clifford spent four years with the Al G. Barnes Circus and four years with Ringling Bros., Barnum and Bailey. While with the latter, he met a 5'6"-tall dancer, Mary Mars, and after a year of courtship they married in Rockford, Illinois, in 1939. After eight years as a career giant, he left the circus to become a traveling salesman. Though no longer a freak by trade, Clifford was still continually on display, representing everything from the Blatz Brewing Co. to The Big Shoe Store in Stevens Point. At the Wisconsin State Fair he wore a sign that said "Drink Milk: Look what it did for me". He advertised the 1935 Ford V8 as roomy enough for a giant, although his own car was custom-fitted to accommodate his size.

In his spare time Clifford enjoyed lecturing to civic organizations and was a member of the B.P.O. Elks in Wisconsin Rapids. He and his wife owned a 110-dairy farm near Scandinavia, where they spent time when not on the road. Like most giants, Clifford required custom-made clothes; his shoes were size sixteen, his hat size nine, his chest forty-six inches and his waist forty-two inches. He was said to consume at one sitting three pounds of steak, three potatoes, three dishes of vegetables, a quart of milk and a whole apple pie. He dreamed of building a house to fit his proportions, with oversized furniture, a dance floor and a movie projection room with love seats for chairs.

As Clifford reached middle age, travel became more difficult. He required a cane to get around and was no longer content to sleep diagonally on two hotel room beds pushed together. In 1949 he entered Marquette University in Milwaukee and obtained his law degree within two years, becoming the tallest lawyer in history. He practiced first in Iola, Wisconsin, then in Los Angeles, before finally settling in Portland, Oregon. He died on October 15, 1955, four days short of his 51st birthday, from a combination of gallstones and liver disease.

Photo: Snapshot of Cliff Thompson with two unknown dwarfs, from the estate of Princess Estella Smith, circus dwarf.