Dorian Leigh & Maurice Tillet by Irving Penn 1945

Maurice Tillet (1903 – August 4, 1954) was a French professional wrestler known as The French Angel who was a leading box office draw in the early 1940s and was recognized as world heavyweight champion by the American Wrestling Association run by Paul Bowser in Boston.

Born in France, he could speak 14 languages and was also a poet and actor. In his twenties, he developed acromegaly, a rare disease that causes bones to grow wildly and uncontrollably. Soon his whole body was disfigured as a result. Seeking a new identity to fit his disfigurement, Tillet moved to the United States where he made a living on his appearance by becoming a professional wrestler, and was dubbed as the "freak ogre of the ring". His villain persona ("the French Angel") was an instant success with the crowds, becoming one of the largest draws in professional wrestling and spawning a series of "Angel" imitators.

On August 1, 1944, The French Angel defeated Steve "Crusher" Casey for the Boston-based world championship. He became a recluse, although a few people did manage to befriend Tillet, including the businessman Patrick Kelly, whose home in Braintree, Massachusetts Tillet would often visit.

Tillet died in 1954 from heart disease at age 51.

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