INDIANAPOLIS - The world's tallest woman, Sandy Allen, passed away early Wednesday at a nursing home in Shelbyville.

She was 53 and had been ill for several months, according Rita Rose, a family friend for 30 years.

Allen, who is 7-foot-7 and one-quarter inches, is listed by Guinness World Records as the tallest living woman.

Allen was a 6.5-pound baby, and her abnormal growth began soon after her birth in June 1955. By the age of 10, she stood 6-3 and was 7-1 by age 16, according to the Guinness Web site.

A tumor on her pituitary gland caused her abnormal growth, said Rose, who is publishing a book about Allen's high school days in Shelbyville. The tumor was removed in 1977.

Allen had a dream to break free of a world that she felt she had outgrown. In her first letter to Guinness World Records in 1974, she wrote: "I would like to get to know someone that is approximately my height. It is needless to say my social life is practically nil and perhaps the publicity from your book may brighten my life," Guinness World Records reported.

The accolade did help to bring about a reversal of fortunes for the Indiana secretary.

First, there was an offer from film director Federico Fellini to take a role in his film "Casanova" in 1975, and then her first date with a 7-foot Illinois man.

Poor circulation and weak leg muscles meant she was dependent on a wheelchair, and Rose said Allen had had health struggles since June.