Rosalie Bradford, 63; held record as heaviest woman

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Rosalie Bradford, who held records for being the world’s heaviest woman and for losing the most weight, has died. She was 63.

Bradford died Wednesday at a hospital in Lakeland, Fla., not far from her Auburndale home in central Florida.

She weighed 1,050 pounds in January 1987, according to the 1994 Guinness Book of World Records. She lost 736 pounds to weigh 314 in September 1992, according to the book.


Publicist Stephen Nortier said Bradford weighed around 400 pounds just before dying. He said the cause of death wouldn’t be known until a medical examiner’s report, but Bradford had spent the last year bedridden with complications from having her lymph nodes severed years ago.

At her largest, Bradford was 8 feet wide and took 90 minutes to bathe.

Bradford blamed her lifelong battle with obesity on abandonment, which bred a food addiction. Born in Hatfield, Pa., she was raised by a baby sitter after her natural mother abandoned her at 6 months.

A chubby child, Bradford weighed 202 pounds as a seventh-grader, 309 a year later.

When she married her husband, Robert, a former Ferris wheel operator, in 1973, she tipped the scales at 250. A year later, after giving birth to her son, Rob, she weighed 374 pounds.

Her website says her peak weight was more than 1,200 pounds in the late 1980s.

“I started staying in bed,” Bradford told the Ledger newspaper in Lakeland, Fla., in 1999. “It was the only place I felt comfortable.”

Bradford credited Richard Simmons, the flamboyant fitness guru, with helping her stop the upward spiral. The two began corresponding after a friend of Bradford wrote Simmons asking him to intervene.

Simmons sent her a diet plan, focusing first on controlling what she ate for breakfast, and encouraged her to exercise. It was a slow process.


“He said, ‘Find something on you that moves besides your mouth and move it,’ ” Bradford recalled later.

By 1992, she was just over 300 pounds. She went back to school and earned a degree in psychology from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and toured the country giving motivational speeches at weight-loss seminars.

“I was just like an addict -- lie, cheat, steal, whatever to get my drug of choice. And my drug of choice was food,” Bradford said.

She is survived by her husband and son.