When I was a kid, the Harry and the Hendersons scene where Harry leaves his adopted family for the forest used to send me into floods of tears, but today I discovered more about the fate of the man behind the bigfoot mask that made my adult self sad to my very core.
Kevin Peter Hall, who at 7’2″ tall played a huge amount of movie monsters we know and love, met a tragic fate less than five years after the nostalgic 1987 family movie was released, but most of you probably won't have heard about it until now.
Hall was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and eventually became the tallest person in a his family, where everyone was at least 6’2″ tall. Using his height to his full advantage, Hall excelled at basketball and he used his skills to win a scholarship to George Washington University where he studied his other passion, performing arts.
Thanks to his colossal stature, Hall ended up playing monsters for most of his career, and after making his big break in the horror film Prophecy in 1979 he went on to terrify audiences as almost 10 different colossal creatures, the most famous being Predator and Harry of Harry and the Hendersons fame.
Described as a "wonderfully softhearted, intelligent, poetic giant of a man" by the Predator creature creator, Stan Winston, Hall was well liked by his colleagues and seemed to have a glowing career ahead of him, as the tribute video below shows:
That was, until a serious car accident in Los Angeles changed everything. Hall was required to have a blood transfusion to save his life after the devastating crash, but this procedure ended up killing him. Instead of being restored to health, Hall was infected with HIV from contaminated blood, a fact that he went public with while reprising his role as Harry on the Harry and the Henderson's TV show in 1990.
Although the prognosis for people who contract HIV today is bright (if they are lucky enough to have access to modern medicines), back then things weren't so scientifically advanced and Hall died suddenly in 1991 from AIDS-related pneumonia. He was just 35 years old at the time.
Hall was posthumously inducted into the hall of fame of his former high school, Penn Hills, in 2009 although his death passed by largely unnoticed, perhaps due to the stigma of HIV/AIDs at the time.