TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A Topeka man is reaching new heights, potentially becoming the tallest man in the United States.
Actor Daniel Gilchrist grew up in Topeka, graduated from Topeka High, and particularly loved the story of Frankenstein. So he was cast as the role in the Topeka Civic Theater production of the monster. He’s gone on to star in movies and community theater productions.
“I kind of just identify with those types of roles more than the Romeos,” Gilchrist said.
That’s because Gilchrist is seven feet and seven inches tall.
On Monday, Igor Vovkovinskiy, the tallest man in the U.S., died in Minnesota at 38. People in the seven and or even eight-foot club like Gilchrist face health issues that the rest of us do not. Their lifespans can sometimes be shorter for that reason.
“That’s kind of always in the back of my mind,” Gilchrist said. “I think okay, I’m going to be here until 40 and then bye.”
Vovkovinskiy was just a year younger than Gilchrist. According to a Facebook post, his mom said he died in a hospital from heart disease.
Gilchrist jokes that he had a midlife crisis in his 20s. It wasn’t until much later in 2017 that something in his mind shifted when he met a dwarf who moved him with a conversation.
“He taught me how most average people don’t encounter a dwarf or a giant all the time, so he believes one shouldn’t have that first encounter be a negative, and that completely changed my outlook,” Gilchrist said. “When you meet someone new regardless of the color of their skin, their size, height, weight, disabilities, whatever just try to remember we are all human beings and try to treat each other with kindness and respect.”