Of all the candidates for World’s Most Interesting Man, Lorenz Peter Elfred Freuchen certainly stands a head above most, literally and metaphorically.
Peter Freuchen (1886-1957), who towered over the world at 6’7″, was a Danish explorer who is known for his distinguished life among the Inuit people of the Arctic and his exploration of the Greenland Ice caps during his career, but he was also an Oscar winning movie star, an accomplished writer and novelist, a Nazi fighter, and winner of the $64,000 Question.
Many tales of Peter Freuchen have arisen throughout the years, such as carving his way through a snowstorm with a knife crafted from his own feces, but perhaps the most well known tale of Peter Freuchen’s life was that when his leg fell victim to frostbite in Greenland his personally amputated the gangrenous toes before seeking medical attention. He later lost the frostbitten leg and forever wore a prosthetic peg leg since.
During the rise of Nazi Germany and the take over of Denmark, Freuchen, a Jew, was a stiffly opposed to anti-Semitism and frequently challenged within Denmark. Even with only one leg he fought against German occupation until his capture by the government.
Freuchen was sentenced to death, but before the execution and still in spite of his disability of having only one leg Freuchen escaped Denmark and fled to Sweden where he stayed for the rest of the war. After the war Freuchen immigrated to America, starred in Oscar winning film, “Mala the Magnificent”, starred on the quiz show, The $64,000 Question and won $64,000, and returned to explore Greenland
Peter Freuchen was also a founding member of the Adventurers Club and was memorialized by them with the planting of an Oak tree in Denmark.
Freuchen tragically died in 1957 from a heart attack in Anchorage, Alaska. He was 71. Freuchen had married three times and fathered two children, and numerous grandchildren. With his passing his life turned into legend and then was nearly forgotten entirely, but all can agree that Peter Freuchen was an amazing example of human perseverance against the odds.
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