The Riddle Of Arnold's Height : The Conan movies.
Part Two : Conan The Destroyer

The 1984 sequel to John Milus's original Conan movie was much more straightforward than its predecessor. Generally considered to be inferior to 'Conan The Barbarian', 'Conan The Destroyer' is a lighthearted 'popcorn' affair intended to appeal to a wider (e.g younger) audience.

Like the original movie, 'Destroyer' has a 'generally' tall cast, with the seemingly obligatory 5'10" female co star and a host of bad guys well over the 6 foot mark. Indeed, the cast is so much taller that there are two members hovering around the 7 foot mark. For this movie Conan looks even more like a stereotypical barbarian in that he shuns practical clothes for a fur loincloth and is noticeably more muscular than in the previous movie (something John Milus had wanted to avoid). But despite this extra size, does he look taller or shorter in this sequel, and is there any way of judging his height based on comparisons?

Shorter than 5'10"?

Sarah Douglas, who plays Queen Taramis is perhaps most famous for her work on the first two Superman films. Listed as a tall 5'10", looking at photographs and clips of her in different roles it is very hard (as it was with Sandahl Bergman in the first Conan movie) to believe that she is anything less than this.

In this scene, we are blessed with a comparison between Ms. Douglas and a stationary Arnold Schwarzenegger. As one can see, the height difference is seemingly not much at all. Certainly not the four inches it would take to back up Arnold's 6'2" claim. It would be fair to assume that there was an absolute maximum of two inches between them.

With this said, on the commentary of the special edition DVD, Ms. Douglas mentions the following about this scene:

"A lot of very high heels. You can tell that i'm not used to walking on such high heels, because my arms swing backwards and forwards as I'm trying to keep balance."

Sadly, there are no good shots of the mentioned heels, but she does appear to be wearing them. The way she describes these heels however, indicates that they may provide in the region of three inches of additional height, possibly more. Assuming Arnold is only wearing standard boots, this would make him three or four inches taller than the 5'10" Sarah Douglas. This of course, would side itself with the 6'2" claims.

Unfortunately, a certain cloud hangs over the fur covered boots Mr. Schwarzenegger is wearing. Could they also be adding a substantial amount of height to their wearer? Although Ms. Douglas mentions walking was a difficult task in her footwear, Schwarzenegger doesn't even have to move a step in this scene. One possibility is that the boots are custom made (or adjusted) for this particular scene, with a reduced heel/insole for any scene in the movie where Schwarzenegger needs to run or jump. However, If this is the case, then would it not have been easier to make Ms. Douglas wear flat shoes?

The Commentary team on the DVD go on to mention Mr. Schwarzenegger's height specifically in a rather candid height conversation:

Interviewer #1 :"I notice you seem to be taller than him in this sequence"
Sarah Douglas : "It's funny you say that, because he's not taller than me in real life. And i've got high heels on so I'm amazed he allowed that to happen. I suppose his mere size was quite enough."
Interviewer #2 :"My guess is he doesn't allow that to happen anymore. This was his second kind of starring role, and presumable after having the sort of huge breakthrough on 'Conan' he was grateful..."

Hold on a second! Taller than Arnold? It certainly doesn't look it from my perspective. Close in height to Arnold, yes! Her comments do carry some weight in that she genuinely believes Schwarzenegger to be the same height as (or shorter than) herself. Could this be true? Well, it's doubtful. This publicity image, shows a comparison of them both alongside 5'8"-5'9" Grace Jones (whom celebheights.com lists as 5'9"). As is clear from this image, Sarah douglas' shoes don't have much of a heel, which may indicate that the filmmakers finally realized that she was making Arnold look shorter. This time around, she appears 3" or 4" shorter than Arnold, but once again you have to question his footwear.

Land Of The Giants

The cast of Destroyer has some pretty tall performers. Chosen to once again to make Conan's challenge seem more threatening, the tallest members pf the cast are:
  • 7'1.5" Wilt Chamberlain (former basketball player)
  • 6'11" Andre The Giant (former wrestler - Height has been listed as much as 7'4")
  • 6'5" Pat Roach (wrestler/actor)
  • 6'5" (possibly less) Sven Ole Thorsen (bodybuilder/actor)


  • Here Arnold appears noticeably shorter than 6'5" Pat Roach. Pat may however, be wearing enhancing footwear to make him appear more monstrous in his role. Regardless of this, the difference in height is particularly noticeable. Mr. Roach is considered to have been a very level-headed guy, and not the type to inflate his own height, so the 6'5" listing is probably quite accurate.

    If there is one image of Conan The Destroyer that could knock down the 6'2" claims, then this is it. The striped sticks drawn next to Wilt, Arnold and Andre show a measurement of alternating feet just over each of their heads. Wilt Chamberlain was used as a starting point for this, as his 7'1.5" listing appears to be the most accurate of the three. The measurements start near the midpoint of the foot and go to the top of their heads (not hair). As Wilt's posture is slightly less straight than the other two, half an inch has been deducted from his listed height to compensate. Going from this, we can see that if Wilt's height is accurate, then it is unlikely Schwarzenegger is beyond the 6' mark.

    Conclusion

    Although it was hoped that concrete answers would have been gained from this Conan sequel, it seems that all the comparisons in this movie do is add flames to the Arnold Height debate. Whereas he can seem noticeably taller than tall ladies such as Grace Jones and Sarah Douglas, he is seen as being very close in height to Ms. Douglas in the scene they share. Not only this, but Sarah Douglas has gone down on record as believing that Arnold is not taller than her in real life. From the perspective of Arnold Schwarzenegger's height, this is a pretty damning testimony. Of course, the real blow comes from the drastic height differences between Arnold and the 'giants' of the cast. Although there was always going to be a very large difference between their heights and Arnold's, the gap is so noticeable that it is hard to ignore.

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