Monday, April 11, 2011

Totally Texas -- A show of hands

Adrian E. Flatt, M.D. Hand Collection
Truett Hospital, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas
The twins had just watched The Princess Bride.  Little boys that they are, their favorite character was Fezzik the giant, played by Andre Roussimoff, also known as Andre the Giant.  Just the excuse their mom needed to take them to the Adrian E. Flatt, M.D., Hand Collection.  Dr. Flatt, a hand surgeon, began casting and bronze-coating hands of famous people as a hobby in 1962.  The casts housed at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas include, of course, those of Roussimoff.

The casts from the seven foot, four-inch tall, five hundred pound Roussimoff dwarf those of fellow wrestler Fritz Von Erich, displayed side by side.  They are so large that the shyer twin refused to be lifted to the upper shelf of the exhibit for a closer look.  A giant on the TV screen he could accept.  A giant in real life – that’s something else.  All the casts are displayed with photographs of the people who volunteered their hands for the program.  In his photograph, Roussimoff appears disarmingly shy, appropriate for a man who suffered since childhood from the hormone disorder acromegaly – gigantism -- that probably contributed to his death from congestive heart failure at age 46.

The first hands Dr. Flatt cast were those of fellow hand surgeons to prove there are no “typical surgeons’ hands.”  He went on to casts of athletes ranging from the small but muscular hands of jockey Willie Shoemaker and gymnast Cathy Rigby’s elfin fingers through the typically large hands of Troy Aikman, Wilt Chamberlain, and Mike Modano.  None of them, however, of a size to rival Roussimoff’s.  The exhibit also includes casts of entertainers, artists, astronauts, scientists, U.S. Presidents, and others.

Like Roussimoff’s, all of the casts are expressive and revealing.  Dr. Flatt’s technique, described in the exhibit, captures fine details of each hand, even fingerprints, arthritic joints and broken fingernails.  The twins’ also appreciated the casts of Walt Disney and Theodor Geisel, creator of Dr. Seuss, that showed them the human side of artists whose work they love.

The exhibit is in the Truett Hospital of the medical center at
3500 Gaston Avenue in Dallas.  It’s free and open 24 hours, just like the hospital.


  1. So glad you enjoyed the exhibit! It's one of the main attractions at Baylor Dallas and we're proud to have it. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    Ashley Howland
    Baylor Health Care System

  2. Thanks, Ashley. It's one of those little gems you find in unexpected places. My daughter was fascinated.