If asked to describe the definitive dream man of fairy tales and cinematic fantasies, it’s a fairly sure bet that “tall” will crop up somewhere. It implies power and strength, a broad shoulder to cry on, a long arm to sweep you off your feet, a head too lofty for the bald patch ever to be noted. For years, the 5ft 7” Tom Cruise has been taking all the flak for being a weirdly short leading man in a Hollywood filled with giants, yet dig a little deeper and it becomes clear that he has actually been masking a great secret. Basically most famous people are short.
The question of height first came to our attention when the marvellously pocket-sized Prince rolled into London to perform a series of electric guerilla gigs around the city, causing wonder not only at his dynamic, iPhone-free shows, but also his 5ft 2” frame, not concealed by a vertiginous afro or the elegant lifts in his shoes. But Prince is a giant compared to Danny Devito, whose height teeters precariously at just 5ft, with some accounts placing him closer to the 4ft 11’ mark.
"Basically most famous people are unexpectedly short"
However, being short is clearly not a problem. Danny Devito’s career has thrived thanks to his size, playing roles such as the foil to Schwarzenegger’s 6ft 2” in Twins. Woody Allen has made a virtue of his 5ft 6”, generally casting willowy women such as Mariel Hemingway and Diane Keaton, and dressing them in heels to emphasise the height difference. And is it a coincidence that, following the break up of Simon & Garfunkel, it is the 5ft 2” Paul Simon who has flourished as a solo artist over the 6ft Art Garfunkel? But other short stars have been more insidious. The 5ft 8” Humphrey Bogart was apparently so paranoid that audiences would realise that he was shorter than Ingrid Bergman that he requested extra cushions to sit on during their sofa scenes in Casablanca.
At AnOther, we’re not making qualitative judgements about height. In fact it’s clear that being short is no barrier to success in any field, from music and film to politics and science. Rather, we're just interested in the facts, so, from the child-star who didn’t really grow up and the big time cinema Godfather who was actually small, to one of the world’s best-loved cinema directors – here is a handy guide demonstrating the relative heights of our favourite unexpectedly short men.
Text by Tish Wrigley