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  1. ** This is an old Interview from 2005 By David Robson - Edited by: Strength Oldschool Dan Lurie would sadly pass away at the age of 90 in 2013. R.I.P Dan Lurie: April 1. 1923 - Nov 6. 2013 In the following interview Dan tells his inspiring story and shares the methods that have helped him to stay in excellent physical shape at age 82. Get the scoop about Dan Lurie right here! Anyone even remotely connected with the iron game will remember one of its greatest ambassadors, Dan Lurie. Back in the 40s and 50s, Dan carved a niche for himself as the worlds strongest, most muscular man. He went on to become arguably bodybuilding’s most successful promoter, starting the World Body Building Guild in 1965 as a way to enhance public awareness, and garner respect, for a sport that was, at the time considered an oddity. Along the way, Dan published several health and fitness related magazines, the most popular of these being Muscle Training Illustrated. From bent pressing with one arm 285lbs, to arm wrestling President Regan, Dan has lived a colorful life, while continually preaching the bodybuilding gospel. Indeed, whether it be through promotion, television, competition, publishing or marketing, Dan took bodybuilding to the masses and helped to transform it from curious spectacle to legitimate sport. His contribution to bodybuilding should never be forgotten for he truly was, and is, one of its more passionate advocates. In the following interview Dan tells his inspiring story and shares the methods that have helped him to stay in excellent physical shape at age 82. (Photo below shows Dan Lurie at the age of 85!) [ Q ] Hi Dan. What have you been up to recently? Well Dave, I just spent the whole day with my son and we went to the Hall of Records in New York. I’ll tell you something crazy Dave. I used to be partners with Joe Weider for several years in the early 1940s and we had a falling out in 1948. In 1947 I registered the name International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) and I held the first IFBB contest on January 15, 1948. Pic above: Joe Weider & Dan Lurie This was the first IFBB show in America. So I came up with the name, but had forgotten about it for 55 years until my son accidentally found the program for that contest, and what we are trying to prove now is that Joe Weider stole the name from me. The IFBB became very famous, but I was the first one to come up with the contest and use the name. So I went to City Hall to find all the records for 1947 – very interesting. [ Q ] And what do you hope to achieve if you can prove you came up with the name? My wife says, “what are you going to get out of it”. If I discovered the airplane, and was the first one to fly the airplane, and they said, “no it was the Wright Brothers who did it”, how would I feel? I am just hoping to get the recognition I deserve. I was forgotten in this field for so many years and would like some acknowledgement. [Q ] Your resume is quite an impressive one and you have been involved in bodybuilding for some time. How old are you and what kind of shape are you in now Dan? I am 82 years young! On April 1, 2006, I will be 83 years young. I am in good shape right now. I workout every morning and I don’t overdo it. I use about 50 lbs and do a lot of repetitions. Pic above: Dan Lurie at 79 years old [ Q ] At what age do you feel you reached your peak as a bodybuilder? At the 1945 Mr America show. Bob Hoffman ran this show and for four years he had everyone from York win the contest. I always wanted to win America’s most muscular man. I did this three times. No one in the world has ever done this three times. In 1945 they had me disqualified saying I was a professional. It was because I was getting too good and was in partnership with Weider. He didn’t want us to get too strong and competitive. They got the AAU to make me professional and I quit competing. You know what happens today when you quit competing. You don’t train like you used to train. In my case I got married. I always worked out, but not with the intensity of one who is competing. I had nothing to prove anymore. [ Q ] How did you get started in bodybuilding Dan? What gave you your big break? I trained for three years at the age of 13 and, at this time, the Daily News in New York was running the Golden Gloves boxing tournament. They put you in all the local arenas and at the end the main show would be at Madison Square Garden. Well I trained for three years and was a pretty good boxer. I was about 5’5″ and 118 lbs. When I was ready to have my first fight, they rejected me because they found I had a heart murmur. A man told me... “Don’t cry kid, I used to be a good boxer but sooner or later someone comes along and beats the dickens out of you so you are better off if you don’t fight.” He told me I had good muscular development and suggested I go into bodybuilding. You know what I said to him? What’s bodybuilding? His name was Terry Robinson (see pic below) and he was Mr. New York State. He will be 90 years old on March 9, 2006. He gave me directions to my first gym with weights. Terry Robinson was a great man. He raised Mario Lanza’s three children. He was the first one to know when Mario died in Italy. He raised Mario’s children after Mario’s wife died a couple of months later of a broken heart. Terry lives in California. He was my mentor and he gave me the direction I needed at that time. So I went into bodybuilding and entered my first New York City contest. I was so bad I came out last. I thought… these guys are monsters, what am I doing here. I was only 17 at the time. But by the time I was 19, in 1942, I was first runner up at the AAU Mr. America contest. They gave me a lot of body part awards and America’s most muscular man title after that. [ Q ] How did you prepare for your first show? What sort of mistakes did you make initially? I didn’t train right. I was too young. It takes time to make your body grow. You can’t just plant the seed and say, “let the vegetables grow tomorrow.” My body was growing and it just needed time and the right training. There were no supplements. I just ate whatever good food I had. My problem was that I could never put weight on. Until I was 125, 130, and then 140 lbs; it took a couple of years. I used to train so hard I burned all the calories. [ Q ] What was your weight when you were at your peak in the 1940s? 168 lbs. I did a one hand bent press of 285 lbs. I never knew how good I was at the time. I thought it was no big deal. [ Q ] And you traveled the country performing feats of strength? I did this when I got on television in 1950. I was a strongman on the TV show, the very famous kid’s show, called The Sealtest Big Top Circus Show. And there I traveled the country doing feats of strength and exhibitions and everything else. [ Q ] What was the bodybuilding culture like back in the 40s and 50s? Whoever did bodybuilding was considered to be a mental nut job. They went crazy and couldn’t see why people would do this. You have to remember, I started because I had a heart murmur. The exercise cured my heart condition. [ Q ] So bodybuilding helped you to improve your health. What else did you find attractive about the sport back then? I enjoyed running all the WBBG shows that I had. All the worlds best built men appeared at my shows, and I had the greatest bodybuilding shows ever. The highlight for me was to get someone that everyone considered a god to appear. They said I would never get him. He lived in Switzerland at the time. His name was Steve Reeves. Pic above: (W.B.B.G) Lou Ferrigno - Dan Lurie - Warren Frederick Pic above: Steve Reeves - Dan Lurie and Aline Reeves I got Steve to come to my show and we put on a great show. We had coming attractions on the screen and in a very famous part of his picture Hercules, Steve Reeves broke down the columns with all his muscles tensing. My son worked the projection room and as Steve Reeves broke down the columns he with his wife and myself walked out on stage and… I’ll never forget how wild the crowd went. They were uncontrollable. They all wanted to jump up on the stage. That would be one of the highlights of all the shows I ran. [ Q ] What other highlights have there been in your bodybuilding career? The hall of fame honoring dozen’s and dozen’s of bodybuilders and movie stars. [ Q ] What was it like to work with Steve Reeves? What kind of guy was he? A nice guy. We used to visit each other at each others homes. When he used to come to my house, he loved to go up to my attic and put on my Seal test Dan muscleman cape that I wore on the TV. I didn’t know, but from 1950 to 1957 he used to watch the show. At that time he was on a Broadway show called Kismet. But we never really met until the 70s when I honored him. We were very good friends and we used to go to Broadway shows together. In fact I had a big fight with him at one time. People were saying – did you have a fight with Steve Reeves. Yes. A snowball fight. We threw snowballs at one another and he loved it. Living in California, he didn’t see much snow. [ Q ] You have been involved in bodybuilding for a long time. At what period was bodybuilding’s greatest era do you think? The golden age of bodybuilding when they didn’t have steroids. Steroids have ruined bodybuilding, and not only for men. If I ever competed in the women’s division today in my best shape, I wouldn’t even place. They would make me look like a beginner. That is how advanced they are – like men. You know how many dozens and dozens of our greatest athletes have died as a result of these drugs. In 1971 I came out on the cover of Muscle Training Illustrated – my magazine – and alerted the world to the dangers of steroids. I said they were killing our athletes. Now some 35 years later it’s all coming out, what with the baseball and other sports also. It’s getting into the colleges and girls are taking them – they are dying by the dozen. That’s why I campaigned to them to save some lives. ** [ STEROID INFO ] ** Strength Oldschool Note: For 100% All Natural Drug Free Vintage Physiques check out the video below: [ Q ] In light of what you have just said, what are your thoughts on the current state of bodybuilding? I don’t follow it like I used to, but when I see these people I don’t believe what they look like. They make Sergio Oliva and Arnold look like beginners. They all seem to look the same. Probably using the same bottle of steroids. Strength Oldschool Note: A bodybuilder by the name of Paul Dillett would have likely made Sergio and Arnold look small. I don’t know if you heard about this in New Zealand, but Arnold’s calves were very poor when he first began competing, and lost to Frank Zane in his first contest in America. Then all of a sudden his calves went from 17 to over 19 inches. [ Q ] This was a result of hard training though. “No, it was a calf transplant.” Today he must have lost a lot of weight but his calves are the same size. If you drop a lot of body weight your whole body shrinks in proportion. Any doctor examining could tell you if he still has the transplants in his calves. [ Q ] This was never covered in the media. They didn’t want to say that about him. Before you say that you need 100 percent truth. I can only say it was rumored for many many years, but I never printed it. By the way, when Arnold came to this country in 1968, my wife and I were the ones who greeted him and Franco Columbu at the airport. Pic above: Thelma - Franco Columbu - Dan Lurie and Arnold [ Q ] Tell me more about this. It was good except he did certain things I didn’t like. He used to fondle the girls in the restaurant. [ Q ] In hindsight, it still must have been good to meet one of the sports icons. I publicized him and helped make him famous and he ended up suing me, period. The whole thing was, he needed money in those days and Joe Weider told him that in America you can sue people and settle, and make a lot of money. [ Q ] Did you get to know Arnold very well? We met a couple of times. We had dinner’s and breakfast’s together. We did TV shows together and he was at the AAU Mr. America shows. He always wanted the publicity and me being a publisher, I could help him. [ Q ] As a publisher what magazines did you have? Besides Muscle Training Illustrated I published Boxing Illustrated, Karate Illustrated, Wrestling illustrated, I had a couple of rock and roll magazines and I had a women’s magazine. [ Q ] How did you get into the publishing business and why? When I broke up with Weider there was no communication to reach bodybuilders for a contest. You can’t get contestants to enter if they don’t know about a show. You can’t get an audience. So I started my magazine in 1965 and I had a partner at the time. After 15 issues he said it wasn’t making money so he wanted out. I knew a little about publishing, but after two and a half years in the industry I got to know quite a bit and I took over the magazine at issue number 16. I started to make money on the first issue I put out because I cut my overheads. He had an office in New York City with secretaries. I didn’t have any of that. I used my own office and my office was my business. All I paid was for running costs for the office, pictures and for an editor. So I had a fixed salary; I would know what each issue was going to cost me. If I didn’t I would have gone broke. [ Q ] Before your publishing career you say you were in partnership with Joe Weider. Tell me more about this. I wasn’t involved in his magazines, only the barbell and exercise equipment. He lived in Canada at the time and if you ship anything from Canada they charge 10 percent duty tax. When it got to America you had to pay another 10 percent duty tax. So that means whatever was selling was going to have a 20 percent duty tax as well as all the freight costs. It was easier to find someone to ship from the United States. We became partners because he needed someone to help him distribute. Just like Grimek did for Bob Hoffman, he used me in his ads. I was shown as the skinny kid with a weak heart who became America’s most muscular man using his system. That’s what got me disqualified because I was in his ads and I was a professional. John Grimek was always featured in Bob Hoffman’s ads but he was considered an amateur. [ Q ] How did the falling out occur? When we started in business maybe we made about $ 5,000 dollars in each year. That was gross. By the time we got through maybe we made one thousand dollars or five hundred dollars each for the year, which was nothing. But when we started to go over $ 100,000 dollars he didn’t want to share the profits with me. So he just cut my name out of the ads in the magazines and put his own name in. He was established already so he didn’t need me. He is a very unscrupulous guy. No loyalty at all. There are a lot of things I could tell you about him but it will have to wait until my new book is out. [ Q ] What can you tell me about Joe Weider? “Joe Weider would put a knife in your back. He would use people, and throw them out.” All I can say is he was an extremely hard worker, but very ruthless in business. He would put a knife in your back. He would use people, and throw them out. There were lawsuits. He did a lot of bad things. But that was him. That was his character. I introduced him to his first wife. [ Q ] Have you had any recent contact with Mr. Weider? No, I don’t see him. Years ago I heard he was in hospital having a hernia operation so I called him and we spoke for an hour or so. We spoke about the good old days when we were kids. You tend to forget about these things. We went our own ways. I was successful as far as I know, but I always felt I was a fly and he was an elephant. I just wanted to make a living. Pic above: Joe Weider - Dan Lurie - Peary Rader [Q ] Tell me more about the World Body Building Guild. I started it back in 1965. I never knew I was the creator of the IFBB. Incidentally, Sports Illustrated is going to follow up on this and do a story on how the IFBB name was created by me and how I ran the first IFBB show in America. The World Body Building Guild was very competitive. Joe was always making it his business to run shows on the same day I would run mine in New York City. At one time Tom Minichiello, one of my gym members and a good friend, was involved with the IFBB and was told by Weider to bury me. He was told to run the contest the same day Dan Lurie runs his show. Of course I had such complete sell-outs. I never disqualified anyone. I don’t care who you were with. If you were a member of the IFBB and entered any AAU or my shows, you were disqualified. That’s not fair. A bodybuilder is free to do whatever he wants. Pic above: Owner of Mid City Gym Tom Minichiello Spots Wrestling Legend Bruno Sammartino (1966). [ Q ] What did the World Body Building Guild achieve? We started the hall of fame that had a lot of famous people being honored. I even honored President Regan. [ Q ] I read that you arm wrestled President Regan. Tell me about this. Who won? He beat me, twice. I wasn’t going to try to beat him. I wanted to give him respect. Besides, he was the oldest man who ever ran for president and they wanted someone to show how strong and youthful he was. So I helped with this, and I have a good ten minute tape. When we left you know what we did to each other? We hugged and kissed each other. Now that’s something for two men to do. And that’s what we did in the White House. [ Q ] What else do you remember about this occasion? He said “Dan when I was a kid I used to read all of your ads in the comic books.” I said, “Mr. President, what were you doing reading comic books.” He said, “I still read them today.” He was the president and he still read comic books. That was an amazing thing. He was a down to earth, warm guy. You see, I went there to honor him. I didn’t complain about anything, about what I wanted him to do. I just went there to honor him. We warmed to each other pretty good. And when we arm wrestled, and he beat me, he said “Come on, you dumped it, you let me beat you.” I said “No Mr. President, you beat me fair and square.” Pic above: President Ronald Reagan and Dan Lurie (60 years Old) Arm Wrestling - 1984. [ Q ] I understand President Reagan was very fit, and was bodybuilding enthusiast for many years. Yes, he used to chop wood on his ranch and horseback ride. We kept in touch after the White House thing. We were supposed to have a rematch but it never happened. It was planned just never happened. The picture of him and me arm wrestling went all over the world. It was on the front page of the New York Times. Many countries featured that picture and ran the story about how the president was so strong he beat a famous strong man. I loved President Regan. He was a warm, decent, down to earth president. Pic above: Young Ronald Reagan. [ Q ] What are some of the strength records you have set over the years? I did 1665 push-ups in 90 minutes and 1225 parallel dips in 90 minutes. I lifted 285 lbs. with one hand over the head. That one was a specialty. I did 1200 pullovers with 55 lbs. Crazy things. Things that involved endurance. People today don’t do this type of training. They train with heavier weights and they end up with injuries and have to stop for a while. I wasn’t going to get hurt. I found my body responded to hundreds and hundreds of repetitions with a lighter weight – 100 lbs. [ Q ] Is this the way you have always trained? Yes and I sweated like a pig. I wore a sweatshirt and people would say “don’t drink water while you workout.” But I was so thirsty I used to gobble it up. They now say “drink water when you workout, it’s good for you.” So who knows. [ Q ] What diet methods have you followed? I always wanted to gain weight so I ate whatever I wanted to. I would lose around three to five pounds every workout. I sweated a lot. Also, I tried not to do much resting in between sets. I rested as little as possible, and it still ended up being a three hour workout. [ Q ] How do you eat today to stay in shape? I eat very lightly, a lot of salads and health foods. And I exercise every morning for about half-an-hour, that’s it. I don’t do too much. I have nothing to prove. [ Q ] What training methods did you establish over the years? When I started manufacturing my own barbells I established the Dan Lurie Barbell Course. I gave it out with a book and pictures and posters. It was very instructive. I was the first one to sell barbells in sporting goods stores. They weren’t sold by York. They were selling mail order and I came out selling to stores. From a $ 5,000 dollar a year start it exploded. Many, many years later I was only doing a small amount because I was only one man. [ Q ] What were gyms like in your day? The equipment was mostly very crude and there were a few mirrors. Now everything is chromed. [ Q ] You discovered Lou Ferrigno. Tell me more about that? Yes, he came to me at 16 years of age. The first thing I asked him was “how far do you want to go in bodybuilding”. I said “You want to be Mr. America?” He said “Mr. America? I don’t want to be Mr. America. I want to be the best built man who ever lived.” That to me was shocking. So I put him on the cover of my magazine and I issued a challenge to Arnold. I said in three years this skinny kid of 6.5 and 185 lbs was going to give him some competition. And he did. And I kept showing the improvements he was making over the years. I had Lou for about six or seven years. Pic above: 1972 Muscle Training Illustrated - Lou Ferrigno Challenges Arnold Schwarzenegger. [ Q ] And Lou ended up switching to Weider. That’s right. He had no contract with me. It was more like a friendship. Weider offered him a $50,000 contract for five years. He did that with Arnold – paid him a big amount over a number of years. Lou switched the night I had Steve Reeves at my show and his father was upset with me because the year before he lost out to Bill Grant who represented Weider. Lou lost out because he took some sort of water pills. The night before he looked unbeatable and when he came the next day I couldn’t believe the change. I don’t know what the heck he was doing. He lost all his definition. [ Q ] How would you like to be remembered Dan? I would like to be remembered as a bodybuilder who loved bodybuilding and treated everyone fair and square. I never hurt any athlete. There were two bodybuilders who sued me – Lou Ferrigno and Arnold. I never said a word about it in my magazine. Now Weider claims he discovered Ferrigno. Bullsh*t. It’s a lie. Just like he said he started the IFBB in 1946. That’s a lie. We have all the old issues and his involvement is not even mentioned. We are doing the research now. He gave me a third page in the Your Physique Magazine when I ran the January 15, 1948 show. He lied and made up stories and people believed it. Joe was a big reader of the Hitler books. I said “Joe, you and I are both Jewish, why are you reading the books on Hitler?” He said, “Think of the power the man had.” He was a 19 year old kid. Who is looking for power at that age. One of Hitler’s sayings was, if you print a lie often enough people will come to know it as the truth. That’s what Joe does. [ Q ] What is most important to you Dan? The most important thing in my life is my wife, my five children and 15 grand children, and soon to be three great grandchildren. That’s the most important thing in my life. Not money. Weider, with all the money he could ever want, has no children although there was some talk around him having a girl at some stage, but who knows. [ Q ] What are the secrets to a long and healthy life? There is no secret. It is all in God’s hands. When I was a kid they said I would live to about five or six years old. People who are healthy die of heart attacks in their 30s 40s and 50s. People in their 70s and 80s… all their lives live until their late 90s. It’s all in God’s hands. We don’t know. [ Q ] Hi Dan. When you went to City Hall to look at the 1947 records to prove you started the IFBB, what exactly did you find? I went to downtown Kings to look for the registering of the name IFBB. But in those days they didn’t keep a register of a name, only corporations. So I could not find a record of it. No record of the sanction. That was done by private clubs. So what I have done is hire the law firm of Adam Atlas from Montreal Canada and I will know within the next two weeks. Ben Weider said he made the IFBB a Non Profit Corporation in 1946. That is not the truth. He never had it registered. So we are trying to find out when it first came up on the Canadian Government Records as an IFBB Non Profit Corporation. Ben Weider says he registered it as such in 1946. This will involve a complete search of records. It could be a Pandora’s Box I am opening up. Could you imagine? They never paid taxes on their shows and they never had the shows registered. When it first started it was no big deal. They (the Weiders) didn’t know what it (the federation) would turn out to be. [ Q ] What exactly did you find at City Hall? They found the records of the gyms I had formed in 1947. They found the corporation of the Dan Lurie Barbell Company that I formed in late 1948, the year I broke off with Weider. But they could not find any record of the International Federation of Body Building, as it was not a business, not a corporation, but only a sanction. They did not keep records in those days, but there is no question I ran the first IFBB show ever in the world, because Weider ran a show in 1947 (the Mr. Canada in October) but I have the program and nowhere does it say IFBB on it. They may have thought about it at the time though. There was a fellow who later worked for Joe Weider by the name of Emanuel Orlik. In 1965, when I published my magazine, he became my editor. So I never knew him from 1940 up to 1965, but I read his articles and he always mentioned his son, who was involved in the International Federation of Gymnastics. So that is how I came up with the name. I stole those three words “International Federation Of” and just added Body Building. [ Q ] And that’s how you say you originally came up with the name? Yes, because it sounded good to me. [ Q ] So now you are waiting on confirmation on whether Ben Weider registered the IFBB as a Non Profit corporation in 1946. Yes. We are waiting for the lawyers to conduct a search which will give me a complete report. This report will include taxes that were paid and everything you would want to know about the Weiders. [ Q ] In our last interview you say you forgot having started the IFBB. Did you get sidetracked? What happened here? This was because I came up with the name, and then broke off with Weider in late 1948. Then I had no way of getting enough contestants to run a show. If you want to run a show and you can’t reach contestants how do you advertise? So I was out until I started up my own magazine in 1965 – with Reg Park on the cover. Then I was able to start the World Body Building Guild and do what I have been doing for years. [ Q ] So you forgot about the circumstances surrounding your conception of the IFBB name? I forgot about it until my son went to look through all my junk as part of the process of doing a book on my life. Everything was put in boxes and my son said “What is this?” The program he found said International Federation of Body Building. I didn’t remember. I said, "Oh my God, who would believe me after all these years.'” This was about three years ago, since he found it. Weider (Joe) claimed they started the federation in 1936, but Weider is four months older than me. So even if he was born in 1922 he was only 14 in 1936. That’s ridiculous. Joe also claimed he discovered all the air in this world, as well as the peaks on the mountains. He discovered them all. I have a picture of what he really looked like when he started – pathetic. But he became large when he took a statue of the body of Robby Robinson and put his head on top. Pic above: Robby Robinson Posing for Joe Weiders Bronze Statue. Now there is a big lawsuit going on because Robby didn’t say anything initially, because Weider gave him a lot of free publicity. But now that it’s over, and he is not competing, he (Robby) wants his image back. [ Q ] So this clearly was not Joe’s physique you say? Joe Weider used retouching art work on several of his pictures. Putting his face on well built men is not new for Joe. I was in London in the mid-1940’s to cover the NABBA Mr. Universe. In the tall men’s class there were only two entries. “Joe said to me, ‘If I enter I have to come out third.'” Joe never had posing briefs. He came on stage with his pants on. Joe was awarded 3rd place. Now here is the kicker: when Weider printed the story and photos, Joe’s head was put on a very muscular body. He claimed this body was his. A real fraud. What a phony. Joe was always slender and never muscular. I still have the original photos. Joe as he really looked in those days. Earle Forbes took the pictures. How pathetic he looked. Remember Weider’s famous arms crossed chest shot? Joe, never looked like that in his entire lifetime. This picture was created by the late artist George Quaintance, in New York City. Pic above: Your Physique Magazine - Joe Weider on Cover - Artwork by George Quaintance. George was the art director of Your Physique. I was in Quaintance studio when he was working on Weiders retouched picture. George made a drawing of me that appeared on the cover of Weider’s Your Physique magazine. Quaintance was head judge at one of my muscle shows. [ Q ] Joe says he discovered Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. What are your thoughts on this? Joe Weider did not discover, or develop the physiques of Arnold or Lou Ferrigno. Arnold was the NABBA Mr. Universe for several years. In 1969, my wife Thelma and myself went to see Arnold and Franco Columbu off at the TWA JFK airport. Arnold won the Pro and Boyer Coe won the Amateur event. Pic above: Arnold Schwarzenegger - Dan Lurie and Franco Columbu at TWA JFK Airport - 1969. Arnold was already discovered and his picture’s appeared in foreign muscle magazines. How strange it is that I printed photos of Arnold in Muscle Training Illustrated way before Weider did. Weider only printed results of his contests. Pic above: 1967 Arnold and Kurt Marnul. [ Q ] Have you had any contact with Joe since you called him at the hospital? I recently tried to reach his office because they said he had back trouble. His secretary told me he was recovering from his back surgery. [ Q ] So to your knowledge Joe Weider is doing well physically? His secretary says he doesn’t come into the office as often, but he would be 83 now. [ Q ] You explained in our last interview that you worked with Lou Ferrigno for six years. Exactly what was your role here? Lou Ferrigno developed his own physique. I gave him advice and helped him. All I could do was encourage him and give him advice on training, but I found out that he spoke to dozen’s of people and got advice from many different people. When I first met him he was a skinny kid. He told me at the time he would like to be the best bodybuilder that ever lived. Of course we made a challenge to Arnold in Muscle Training Illustrated, and I put Lou on the cover and started publicizing him. From the time he was 16 to the time he left me at around age 22, we had a little more than six years together. Pic above: Young Lou Ferrigno at 17. Pic above: Lou Ferrigno at 20 years of age. [ Q ] What actual involvement did you have in Lou’s training? I would correct his posing all the time. I even paid his expenses to go to his first AAU Mr. America show. I paid for him to go to his first NABBA Universe contest in London. I did a lot of things for him but we didn’t have any kind of written contact – it was like a father and son deal. I would meet Lou at least two times a week, especially on Fridays. He would come over to my office around six o’clock and leave around eight or nine at night. We would go through posing and discuss training. What got his father upset with me was when Bill Grant beat out Lou in 1972 at my WBBG Pro Mr. America. Pic above: 1972 WBBG Pro Mr America - Bill Grant Beating Lou Ferrigno. Although Bill Grant represented Weider, I didn’t care. I just wanted the best man to win. I actually wanted Lou to win. They had 18 or 19 judges. The night before, Lou looked unbeatable but he took some pills on the advice of his friends and I couldn’t believe how the definition was gone in one night. He was lucky he even placed second. His father was angry and said “why didn’t you make sure your number one boy won”. But I run an honest contest and the best man has to win, with the judges deciding this. The next year Lou never showed up at my show. He entered the Weider show and I had my Steve Reeves show where I had to put seats on the stage to fit all the people in. [ Q ] But you did have a pretty good friendship with Lou over the years you were with him? Yes. Lou’s friend Tony Badal brought him to me. In fact Lou was supposed to be the best man at Tony’s wedding. Lou never showed up. I was there. He never told Tony why he didn’t show up. [ Q ] What kind of training program did you have Lou on? I always told him to use a lighter weight. He didn’t agree with me. He couldn’t do the endurance that I used to do. I would take a lighter weight and do maybe five or 10 sets of 15. That was too much for him. He had to take a heavier weight and do three or four sets. That was not my way, but whatever he did it worked for him. Now here is the main thing: I always said “Lou, are you taking any steroids?” He always said, “Are you crazy, I would never take steroids.” He knew of the side effects and the fact they could kill so many people. Well, he lied to me. When I met his father I got proof that Lou was on steroids. And I told Matty (Lou’s father), “You know that Lou is on steroids and that could kill him.” You know what his answer was? “It is not important that he dies, it is important that he wins.” I said, “Matty you are crazy.” Who would want their son to die just so they could win a lousy muscle contest? It’s nothing. I always wanted to put Lou into the insurance business – he was a sheet-metal worker – and I said, “With the publicity you are getting, people would call you to handle their insurance. I would send you to insurance classes.” But he didn’t want that. He wasn’t interested in money. He just wanted to be popular and he almost succeeded in Africa when he came third to Arnold in the Olympia. My friend Reg Park ran the show. Reg came to some of my shows to guest pose. Pic above: 1975 Mr Olympia - Arnold Wins Beating Serge Nubret (2nd) and Lou Ferrigno (3rd). [ Q ] Why did you get sued by Lou Ferrigno? I was sued because I used his picture in the back cover of my magazine selling Jet 707. He was featured with Steve Michalik. I had releases from both of them, but Lou stated that even though he signed the release he was under the age of 21. He claimed that he was under 21, but I proved that he was over 21 when he signed the contract. The release contract had the date and this proved he was over 21. My office secretary put her name down as a witness, and it wasn’t until I had to go through the records and check that I discovered this. In fact, I have the complete file – I looked at it last week. [ Q ] And Lou was successful in suing you? Yes. They had two good lawyers and one of them was associated with the judge. So I ended up having to pay quite a bit of money. And then when I went to a Mr. America contest in California, a couple of years later, and I went backstage. At this time, Lou had forgotten that he sued me, and he greeted me with open arms. He was so glad to see me, an old friend. But when I went backstage again a second time, as Lou passed by, this is what he said to me: “You dirty Jew son of a b*tch, the day my father and I bury you will be the happiest day of our lives.” I was ready to kick him in the testicles, but he would kill me. I’m a little guy. I had one chance, but nothing happened because people separated us. I said, “Lou, there is only one person in this world who is going to take care of you. God will take care of you and judge how I tried to help you and what you turned into.” That was the last contact I, or any of my family made with Lou, except for a few years ago when they were having a sports show in Atlanta Georgia. My son was in the crowd. Lou was on stage talking about the people he was representing. He spotted my son and got off the stage, and he said, “I have to say hello to a very dear old friend,” and they hugged each other. Of course, Lou had nothing against my son Mark. Mark was almost his age. They grew up together. Mark did nothing to hurt him, they were like friends. Mark said Lou was so nice he was like a different person. That was the last contact my son had with him. This would have been around 15-20 years ago. [ Q ] Did you have any contact with Lou at this time? No. He left me after the appearance of Steve Reeves at my show. It was verified at the time that Weider offered him $50,000 for five years. Sounds good, but when you break it down it is only $10,000 per year. That is all he was getting for writing and letting Weider use his name for advertising. That was how Weider operated. By the way: Weider didn’t bring Arnold Schwarzenegger into this country. It was someone who worked for him. A guy called Lud Shusterich. He won America’s Most Muscular Man in 1941, and he worked for Weider in Europe. Pic above: Joe Weider - Arnold Schwarzenegger - Franco Columbu - Lud Schusterich. Lud came from Brooklyn. Later on I became partners with Lud in an equipment company I opened in his home town. He made the arrangements to bring Arnold to America. He said to Joe, “I have someone who is going to be good for you in the magazines; he’s known in Europe and has won NABBA (National Amateur Bodybuilding Association) five or six times.” Pic above: 1969 Letter from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Dan Lurie. Pic above: 1969 Letter Response from Dan Lurie to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Of course Weider never publicized the NABBA Universe – only the IFBB shows. Arnold also got a $50,000 contract for five years. Then they worked things out and it became like a father and son deal. Lud Shusterich was an architect – he built the Weider buildings in Woodland Hills. [ Q ] Why did Arnold sue you? He sued me because he claimed he never knew about the Sergio and Arnold Challenge, which was to take place in New York City, on September 1974. I offered, at the time, $5000 to the winner of this contest. He accepted and Sergio Oliva accepted. I waited until the show, and the Arnold and Sergio Challenge was to be one of the main features we had. The day before he was supposed to come, a fellow by the name of Andy Bostinto who was a friend of mine and Arnold’s, said I have Arnold’s private number in California and we (Dan and Arnold) spoke for about 20-minutes, making arrangements and determining what flight he was coming in on so he could be picked up. He was telling us that Weider didn’t want him to go because I would fix the contest so he would lose. I said to him, “I have some other news. Sergio has agreed to split the prize two ways.” Whoever comes out first or second, still gets $2500 each. At that time Arnold was getting paid $500 to do an exhibition. Plus I had to pay his expenses to come in from California to New York. Arnold said, “with that money, I’ll be there.” Of course he never showed and all I ever printed in the magazine was that he lost on default, because he never showed up. That’s all I ever said. A couple of years later, while running my first WBBG show in Los Angeles, Arnold calls and wants to have breakfast with me and Franco Columbo and, of course, my wife. So we met at the Century Plaza Hotel, and we had breakfast for about two to two-and-a-half-hours. They must have eaten about three breakfasts – steak, eggs. They ate like they had never seen food in their lives. The bill came to close to $300, just for breakfast. I had a normal breakfast – maybe $15-20. Arnold was telling us how unhappy he was with Weider, that Weider was not publicizing great European bodybuilders. He asked if I would publish some of their pictures, along with some of his articles. Of course I said yes, I would be happy to. Arnold had a bunch of papers in his car and when he pulled up to leave, he gave me the package – about an inch thick. I looked at the package and saw a blue paper. That is how he served me with a summons. I immediately called Franco Columbu and asked him if he knew about this. He said, "Dan, Arnold is my best friend and all I know is that he laughed like a madman after the breakfast". Not only did Arnold get me to pay for the breakfast, he got to serve me with papers at the same time. Franco said he swore he knew nothing – he gave me his word. Franco did however say that Arnold laughed like he got the greatest pleasure in the world. Years later, at another AAU Mr. America in Atlanta City, my wife and I walk in and behind us is Arnold. So I walk in the opposite direction. He went to the left so I went to the right. All of a sudden an arm was put on my shoulder and it was Arnold. He said, “Dan, let’s be friends again.” I said, “Arnold, I could never be your friend after what you did to me.” I helped make him famous. In one issue of Muscle Training Illustrated Magazine, I had 19 pictures of Arnold, before Weider ever published any of his pictures. I said, “I helped make you famous.” He said, “I needed the money then.” We left and my wife said, “Wasn’t Arnold nice?” and I said “No, screw him.” Years later I was scheduled to give Regis Philbin an award for being the most physically fit announcer on television. Regis started with my weights when he was 13 years old and kept in great shape. He said, "Dan I will let you know when you can come and present me with the award". Pic above: Regis Philbin and Hulk Hogan. A couple of weeks went by and I get a call, which asked me to be there on a certain date. When I got there, everyone in the green room was saying that Arnold was there. I didn’t know he was going to be on the show. I was reading my newspaper and my son was with me and I have this big plaque that I’m going to give Regis. Arnold walks into the room and he says, “Dan is that you?” I hadn’t seen him for 20 years or so. I didn’t answer him. Then he said “Lurie, is that you?” I said, “Aren’t you ashamed to even talk to me after what you did?” Again he said he needed the money then. I said, “Arnold, I have three words for you. Give it back.” He went on first and did what he was there to do and then left. He wanted to know what Dan Lurie was doing on the show. He thought I was going to expose him for the rat he was. When I did my part with Regis I didn’t say a word about Arnold. I presented Regis with a nice plaque and that was the end of it. [ Q ] So what exactly did Arnold sue you for in the end? What was the outcome? He claimed he new nothing about the contest between Sergio Oliva and him that I had organized. He wanted a million dollars because I had made a fortune on the show, and since he never gave his permission, which was a lie, he sued me for using his name without his consent. He wasn’t really known at that time though. He was just known among a few muscle fans. It wasn’t until he made the picture Pumping Iron that he got known nationally. He sued me on a false claim. We both agreed not to expose what he got but it was well over six figures, plus the legal costs I paid. Read this great article entitled: "Pumping Iron at 40: An Interview with George Butler by Shawn Perine". Also, I had all my witnesses going back and forth. Every time I had my witnesses go there it was postponed, so we went back about three or four times which cost me. In the end, the judge said he had to settle the case. He got me in the corner and said, “Dan, you could lose a fortune, you are better off settling.” Then he got to Arnold and said, “Arnold, you could lose everything. This guy (Lurie) has a strong case, anything you get from him, take it.” He worked one against the other. I was stubborn and didn’t want to give a penny. My lawyer said my fees were going to be more than that if I were to continue like this. [ Q ] People want to know more about Arnold. What else can you share? I’ll tell you one thing. When I first met him at the airport in 1968, when my wife and I greeted him there, we took him out for lunch and he would grope the waitresses. He would touch their breasts and their behinds, and say to them three words, "I vant sex". I said to Arnold, “You don’t talk that way.” Now he is accused of so many things of that nature. I called him on television a slimy snake. [ Q ] Is there anything about Arnold that you did like? He has a good sense of humor, but he is very sneaky, very untrustworthy. He’s not honorable. He uses people like Weider (Joe) did – he had a good teacher in Weider. Weider was the one who encouraged him to sue me, I know that. Do you know how I know? Because the lawyers Arnold had were Weider’s lawyers. How would he get Weider's lawyers if Weider didn’t give him the name of the law firm. Of course, Weider didn’t like me to be successful with my magazines. He even took me to court to try to stop me from using the name Muscle Training Illustrated. He said it was too close to Muscle Power and Muscle and Fitness. Of course, he lost. He tried to stop my distributors, tried to do everything possible to hurt me. [ Q ] Who would you consider the greatest bodybuilder of all time and why? In my opinion it would be Steve Reeves. Steve Reeves had the most beautiful face to rival any Hollywood actor. He was a soft-spoken gentleman, and he never took steroids. He had a natural body, used to ride his bike up the hills of San Francisco all the time. To me he was the greatest of all time. We used to visit each other at our homes. He loved to put on my Seal test cape. I never knew that he watched the Big Top Circus Show. He liked my kids and my kids would visit him at his farm in San Diego. [ Q ] Did you ever train with Steve Reeves? No, but we used to go out to Broadway shows and share lobsters and steaks together, after the shows. We always enjoyed one another’s company. Strength Oldschool NOTE: Check out this book by Steve Reeves: "Building the Classic Physique The Natural Way". [ Q ] What other qualities did Steve Reeves have that made him, in your eyes, the greatest bodybuilder of all time? He had what the French call ‘armench,’ which means he was a very, very, nice person. [ Q ] I understand you had some involvement with Bernar McFadden and his man Charles Atlas. I was the associate editor on Bernar McFadden’s magazine Physical Culture. He used to take me for lunch to the downtown athletic club – where he was a member. I had him judge some of my muscle shows in the 1940s, and every time he judged a show he would hand me a check for $1000 when he left – for being kind to him. Pic above: 1910 issue of Physical Culture Magazine by Bernarr Macfadden. I gave him a nice build up. But people didn’t respect him in the muscle field. He gave Charles Atlas the title of Worlds Strongest Man. This was done through his magazine. I was supposed to honor Charles Atlas in 1971, I believe. I gave him the date and he phoned me a month before and said he had a problem with some property in Florida, and asked me if I could hold the plaque and give it to him in 1972. That was the year he died, so I went to his funeral and was the only bodybuilder there. I gave the plaque to his sons. The Beach that Atlas went to was Point Lookout in Nassau, Long Island. He had a summer home there. Did a lot of running on the beach. He always treated me nicely. In Charles Atlas we lost a great man who helped many thousands to develop their bodies. Atlas always knocked weights saying only his Dynamic Tension could do the job. It was a lot easier selling paper courses than shipping & packing heavy barbell equipment. Atlas used weights to build up his tremendous body, but never gave credit to the exercise equipment. He was a gentleman all the way. [ Q ] What about Bernarr McFadden did you respect most? He treated me very nice. I was a young kid in my late 20s early 30s. He died at the age of 87 I believe. He always liked to walk fast and in his later years he would jump out of airplanes. He was not a tall man, probably only about 5′ 6″, but he was a very good looking man. Pic above: This book can be checked out and purchased from here. [ Q ] Tell me more about your Instant Action Positrain course. Is it still selling? They aren’t really selling that well today. I had an injunction brought against me by someone who posed in the book. I was partners at the time with a fellow by the name of John Lima, who at one time was partners with Joe Weider. With the lawsuit, they said they didn’t give me any permission to use the image and they missed out on thousands of dollars with the sale of the books. I have a couple of hundred books left. I don’t sell many of the books today. I used to sell them to Amazon, and they were doing very well – I sold maybe a thousand or so copies, which was good. And then they put a new rule in that if they didn’t sell X-amount, the amount I got would be cut in half. So it didn’t pay for me to continue selling them, so I stopped. [ Q ] What exactly did and/or does your course, provide? Well, you have to try to satisfy all people, from beginners to advanced. It is hard to put it all into one book. The book is a good way for a beginner to get started. In a lot of gyms today, people don’t lift enough weights. They put them on the treadmill. Back in those days I must have had a dozen different gyms running. It was different then because you knew everyone by name. Today it is completely out of hand – you don’t even know who the members are. So there are more in the way of different fitness needs today. [ Q ] And the book provides different ways for people to train, gives people different options? Yes, as much as I could. I always say the most important thing, even today, is walking. It is the greatest thing people can do. [ Q ] What is so great about walking do you think? Because with walking you strengthen the heart and live longer. People, who have walked long distances for most of their lives, have a record of longevity. Anything that is good for the heart is a great thing. I’m coming out with something and we are in the production stages – my grandson is pushing me. It will be called the Dan Lurie Fitness Rope. This will be a type of rope that no one has used before. A beginner finds it very difficult to jump rope, because the rope hits their feet. With my rope, there is no hitting of the feet. A person will never have to stop because the rope has not gone the complete turn. It is in the works of being patented, so I can’t talk about how it works right now. The new rope will be for people of all ages for weight loss. They don’t have to go out in the rain to walk. They will get just as much benefit if they can jump a rope for 30-minutes-a-day. That would be tremendous for the average person. 30 minutes non-stop with the rope is a long time. There is going to be an infomercial – I have people from television interested. First I want to get everything right. [ Q ] I understand you began your own corporation in the 1980s? I became 50-50 partners with John Lima in the 80s, in a separate Corp. We formed a separate Corp and had our office and Fitness showroom located on West 48 St. and Broadway in New York City. Right in the middle of Times Square. I had my own Dan Lurie Fitness World in my own building located in Queens, New York. I was 100 percent owner and it had over 40,000 square feet of space, with a large Parking area. At that time, it was the world’s largest fitness store. [ Q ] In the 40s and 50s would you have considered yourself one of the worlds strongest, most muscular, men? I won America’s most muscular man three-years-in-a-row: 1942, 43 and 44. I was the only one in the history of the AAU to win it three times in a row. The closest was twice. [ Q ] On that basis, would you consider yourself to be one of the most muscular men of that era? Oh sure. I didn’t realize how strong I was until I started out with the bent press. Maybe I was able to do 150 lbs. I remember the first time I did 100 lbs with one hand I thought, wow am I strong. But it’s all in the technique. I then went up to 150 lbs. At Sig Klein’s show I think I did 200 or 210. As the years went by I kept practicing. It has to do with strength, but the strength is not as important as the technique. [ Q ] Could you describe exactly how you would perform the one arm bent press? Bending away from the weight. Getting under the weight – you had to be flexible. The heavier you are the less you could do. Then I ended up doing 285lbs with one hand, at a bodyweight of 168lbs. [ Q ] Was this ever verified? Yes. The AAU people watched it. It was all done in front of a panel of AAU people. They were there also when I did my push-ups and parallel dips. I didn’t know who they were, but I know the names of them now. One was Rudy Zabo. He was in charge of the AAU in New York City. Another by the name of Morris Weissbrot. He was one of the judges in the 1972 Munich Olympics, which was held at one of the Jewish camps where 11 athletes were killed. [ Q ] Was the weight you lifted ever recorded? Yes, but I don’t know what they did with it. They gave me a certificate and that was it. Records weren’t kept like they are today. [ Q ] How close did you come to winning the AAU Mr. America? Bob Hoffman controlled the sport of bodybuilding in the 40s. Four of his men won. In 1942, Frank Leight (photo below), who represented York, won. In '43, Jules Bacon (photo below), who also represented York, beat me although we both won three body parts each. The contest was only between the both of us. Although the other guys were good, they weren’t in our class. In '44, Steve Stanko (pictured below) won. He also represented York and was the only Mr. America in history that could not walk on the stage, and walk up a posing platform. He had trouble with his legs, and he died from that. When it came time for him to pose, they put the lights out and they helped him out on stage. The 1944 America was held in a boxing ring in Chattanooga Tennessee. They turned the lights out, carried him into the ring, helped him up the steps, and put him on the platform. Then the lights went on. When he was through posing, the lights mysteriously went off, and they helped him off the stage. Same thing when they announced the winners. They had to put the lights out. People didn’t know what was happening – they thought it was a black-out or something. All of a sudden you have 20-30 people on stage and they announced the finalists. He won the 1944 Mr. America. Here’s something interesting: in 1942, Frank Leight won the Mr. America contest in Cincinnati, Ohio, but I was picked as the winner the night before. When they gave out the awards, they announced it as a tie between Frank Leight and myself, and they were going to have an independent judge break the tie. You know who the judge was? Sigmund Klein (pictured below). Frank Leight was the manager of his (Sig Klein’s) gym in New York City. Sig should have disqualified himself. So he picked his man. His answer was a taller man is always better built than a shorter man. [ Q ] When was the World Bodybuilding Guild started? It was started in 1965 or 1966. My first dinner was for Sig Klein. The guy who took away my title. I honored him. He never entered any competitions, but he was built nice from the waist up. His legs were weak though. He never competed, just like Jack LaLanne who never competed in any of the AAU Mr. America contests. Famous People Dan Has Met: Prime Minister of the UK, Winston Churchill. Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the US. USA Senator Jacob Javits of N.Y. Mayor Abe Beame of N.Y.C. Mayor Ed Koch of N.Y.C. Mayor Ed Juiliani of N.Y.C. Mayor David Dinkins of N.Y.C. Prime Minister of Israel, Menachem Bagin Prime Minister of Israel, Sholm Peres Prime Minister of Israel, Itsik Schmere Prince’s Grace Kelly of Monaco Prince Reniure of Monaco Senator Al Da-Mato of N.Y. Gov. Soapy Williams of Mich. Gov. Hugh Cary of N.Y. and Son Chriss Gov. Mario Como of N.Y. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of Calif. Special Awards To Dan: AAU Hall of Fame Downtown Athletic Club. NYC King Neptune in Coney Island Parade Daughter Sandy Carl – Queen in Coney Island Parade Sports People: Jackie Robinson – Baseball Mel Allen Yankie – Announcer Joe Louis – Boxer Al “Bummy” Davis – Boxer “Schoolboy” Bernie Freiken – Boxer Rocky Graziano – Boxer Jack Demsky – Boxer Tiger Woods – Golf Sonny Liston – Boxer Red Hollsman – Basketball Ivan Putski – Wrestler Super Star Billy Graham – Wrestler Bruno Sammartino – Wrestler Vince McMahon – Wrestling Promoter “Captain” Lou Albana – Wrestler “Andre the Giant” – Wrestler Antono Rocca – Wrestler Show Business People: Alan Burke Regis Philbin Jan Murry Johnny Weismuller Buster Crabbe Mae West Steve Reeves Clint Eastwood Jack Sterling – Ringmaster, Big Top Circus Bob Russell Barker – Big Top Circus, Miss America TV Show Ed McMahon – Clown on Big Top TV show, Johnny Carson’s Sidekick George Burns Woody Allen Lou Costello Eddie Cantor Al Johnson Soffie Kucker Ruth St. Dennis’s husband Ted Shawn Georgie Tapps George Gerswin Ira Gershwin Steve Allen Walter Cronkite Joe Franklin Marilyn Monroe Jerry Lewis Milton Berle Jane Mansfield and husband Mickey Hagerty Bing Crosby Eddie Fisher Eddie Gormay and husband Steve Lawrence Joey Bishop Alan King Jackie Mason Buddy Hackett Carol Channing Excvia Cuget and Wife Charro Mario Lanza, Terry Robinson Shecky Greene Joel and Joan Gray Billy Rose and wife Joyce Matthews Todie Fields Ray Parker Norm Crosby Harry Bellefonte Dom DeLuise Bob Hope Jerry Colona Jan Pierce Debbie Reynolds and her Mother Ed Sullivan Sam Levinson Jack Albertson Danny Styles Jack Albertson [ Q ] Can you elaborate on the World Bodybuilding Guild, and what exactly is the bodybuilding hall of fame? I started it because I wanted to give credit to top bodybuilders in our sport. I felt it was a nice way to get closer to all the people who are interested in our sport. You go to a muscle contest; you sit in your chair. You may wave at some people there and say “how are you?” At a dinner, you can walk around and talk to people – everyone has a badge on with their name. You can go up to the Dias and talk to whoever is being honored, and you are free to take any number of pictures. It was a good thing to do for the people, and it was a good thing to publicize it in my magazines. And we would run a weekend. The Saturday night would be the contest and Sunday would be the dinner. So all the people who entered would come to the dinners too. It was a nice thing to do, and I enjoyed doing it. Of course, after a while I felt there weren’t enough muscle men to honor and I wanted to get a bigger crowd. I therefore went to sports people and movie stars. Dan’s Hall Of Fame Honorees: WBBG Hall Of Fame Dinners & Awards 1965- Sigmund Klein 1967- Bill Pearl 1968- Ricky Wayne 1969- Boyer Coe 1970- Dennis Tinerino 1971- Sergio Oliva 1972- Reg Park 1973- Steve Reeves 1974- Peter Lupus & Bert Reynolds 1975- Robert Redford & Mae West, Joe Bonomo-Chris Dickerson, Dave Draper & The “Mighty Adam” Joe Greenstein 1976- Johnny Weissmuller-Buster Crabbe, Sergio Oliva-Bruno Sammartino 1977- Steve Reeves-Billy Graham, Serge Nubret- Sylvester Stallone & the Greatest Boxer-Joe Louis 1978- Robert Blake- Clint Eastwood, James Bolin-Sen. Jacob Javits, Jack LaLanne-Jim Morris, Bill Pearl & Ivan Putski Special Awards To: President Ronald Reagan Three Prime Ministers of Israel: Yitzhak Shamir, Shimon Peres, and Menahem Begin Prince Rainier of Monte Carlo George Burns Regis Philbin Charles Atlas Joe Franklin Mayor Abe Beame NYC Mayor Ed Koch NYC [ Q ] Were many of the other honorees bodybuilding enthusiasts. Were they in any way connected to the bodybuilding scene? Some were, some weren’t. Clint Eastwood was a bodybuilder. Sylvester Stallone was always a bodybuilder. He was a member of my New York gym. His brother Frankie reminded me that when he and Sly were 13 or 14 years old when they were thrown out of my gym. I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “You asked me for dues and we didn’t have the eight or 10 dollars to pay.” Stallone was a very nice person. Then when we had Clint Eastwood, he called in the night before and he said he had a problem. He was in the middle of a movie and the producer left so he had to do it himself. This is something not many people could do. So he sent me someone to take his place, to give the award to – James Roland. He was the one who was married to Barbara Streisand and had a very popular show in New York called “Hotel,” based on a nice hotel in San Francisco – the Fairmont Hotel. [ Q ] You honored Mae West with an award for sexiest woman of the century. Why did you choose her for this award and what was she like? Yes, I met Mae West at her home place. After being with her the first three hours, I told her, “Ms. West, I can’t give you any more of my time.” Of course she was the one who was helping me. I said, “My wife is downstairs and she is going to be quite upset.” She asked if my wife would like to come upstairs and meet her. I said, “No, she’s not one of your fans.” She told me to go downstairs and bring my wife up. And that’s what we did. After a half an hour they were the best of friends. We found out something strange. Mae was born in Brooklyn and her father’s name was Jack West – he was a fighter. In between fights he would rent a horse and wagon and sell fruit in his neighborhood. As a kid, she would go to Rockaway Avenue to pick up the horse and wagon. My grandfather owned the place where the cart was kept so we got very warm – I mean, what a connection. We spoke more about her father and what she did when she was living in Brooklyn. She never flew, but always took the train. She was scared of flying. And of all places, she is now buried in Brooklyn. [ Q ] What else can you tell me about Mae West? I must have sat no more than two feet from her and her skin was so soft – no wrinkles, nothing. She was in her 80s at the time. She looked great. She kept saying, “Feel my arms, I work out.” I felt her arms. She said, “Feel my breasts.” I said, “I’m not going to touch your breasts.” [ Q ] A special time in your life. Yes. I’ll tell you another story that is very special to me. In 1943 I went to Los Angeles to compete in the AAU Mr. America. I had a room-mate who was a 118 lbs weightlifting champion, Joe DePietro. He was like a dwarf – about three feet tall. He came from Patterson, New Jersey. Joe said to me one day, "come with me I want to visit my old friend, he has just bought a house in Beverly Hills". Pic above: Weightlifter Joseph DePietro - 1948 Olympics. He didn’t tell me who this friend was. It turned out to be the home of Lou Costello from Abbott and Costello. But Lou Costello had a heart problem and he was on a hospital bed. They would wheel him from room to room. He couldn’t walk, but we spoke and he grabbed my chest like he was going to beat me up. He was just joking of course. Pic above: Abbott and Costello - 1950s. I took pictures of his swimming pool and his yard. But when I developed the pictures, I found a picture of a baby carriage right next to the swimming pool. The day I left his house, after taking the pictures, his son, who was less than a year old, climbed out of the carriage and drowned. I have the only picture of the baby in the carriage before he died. Last picture probably ever taken of him. I tried to give it to the family but this never happened. This story will be in my book. ** More on this sad and terrible tragedy can be read here. [ Q ] Very touching story Dan. When will your new book be out and what will it entail? It is in the hands of the agents and publishers right now so I don’t know just yet. This book will be my life story and also about the dangers of steroids. It will teach how to become a champion without the use of steroids. ** Dan Lurie's book (Heart of Steel: The Dan Lurie Story) can now be purchased by clicking here. [ Q ] You had some dealings with another anti-steroid campaigner, Steve Michalik? Yes, the 1972 Mr. America. He now talks about the dangers of steroids. They made him mentally crazy. His brother worked for me as an artist and when Steve was about 13, he would come with his brother to my home in Long Island to deliver me the artwork. That’s how far back I go with Steve Michalik. Steroids almost killed Steve – he went through divorces and beat up his friends. The anger. He used to eat the glands from monkeys skulls to get big. [ Q ] Joe Louis and Superstar Billy Graham were others you presented awards to? Yes. I honored Joe Louis the day I honored Steve Reeves. Superstar Billy Graham and his boss Vince McMahon, who was just a youngster at the time, were there. Superstar Billy Graham introduced Steve Reeves. Billy Graham was not a speaker, but no one could have done a better job of introducing Steve Reeves. The God coming down to earth to the people was what Billy Graham said about Steve Reeves. It probably embarrassed Steve Reeves, but he was so loved by the people there. I was Superstars manager for a while, then my son picked out his home no more than five miles from me, and Superstar trained at my gym in Lynbrook L.I., New York. Pic above: Superstar Billy Graham. I gave him a key so he could train at five o’clock in the morning. I also found out that as big as he was, Superstar was taking steroids. He almost died from them with kidney problems and other things. He is crippled today. He could have been the biggest star in wrestling but drugs destroy and they destroyed him. [ Q ] On that note we have to end things Dan. We should talk again. I would like that Dave. Thanks.
  2. In light of the recent news of the passing of George Butler (1944 - 2021) I thought it would be nice to post an article from Muscle & Fitness dated back in March, 2017, written by the late Shawn Perine (1966 - 2017). ~ Strength Oldschool An Interview with director George Butler (pictured below back in 2004), the man responsible for making bodybuilding a cultural mainstay that has inspired a younger generation of lifters. It's hard to overstate the impact of director George Butler's 1977 documentary "Pumping Iron", not just on bodybuilding, but on society. For one thing, it introduced the world to pre-Conan Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose incredible success might not have been possible without his breakout performance as himself in P.I. Then there's the mainstreaming of gyms that can be traced to the film's release. Beginning in the late 1970s and well into the '80s, the health club industry saw massive growth, with chains popping up throughout the U.S., then the world, and with them, a surge in gym memberships. Pumping Iron is the reason many of us, myself included, got into working out in the first place, so it's with great pleasure that I wish George, Arnold, and the rest of the film's cast and crew a happy 40th anniversary. PUMPING IRON: The film that almost wasn't. With the exception of the Weider brothers, few people have had as much of an influence on the popularization of bodybuilding as George Butler. As the engine that conceived, directed, and then brought the film Pumping Iron to theaters 40 years ago, Butler has given bodybuilding fans the world over a visual touchstone that still serves as everything from historical reference to motivational guide to celluloid bible. Shawn Perine (Photo above) / Muscle & Fitness: What was your first professional experience with bodybuilding? George Butler: Charles Gaines was assigned by Sports Illustrated to write an article on a bodybuilding contest for the July '72 issue (see cover below). He asked me to take the photographs. S.P / M & F: What was the contest? George Butler: It was the Mr. East Coast, which was held in Holyoke, Massachusetts (MA), and was won by a wonderful bodybuilder named Leon Brown (pictured below). S.P / M & F: Were you familiar with bodybuilding at the time, or was it a new experience for you? George Butler: I had grown up in Jamaica and the West Indies, and I used to work out in a gym in Jamaica, and bodybuilding was a big sport down there. I saw my first bodybuilding exhibit actually at a political rally in a church in Savanna-la-Mar, Jamaica. S.P / M & F: How did that come about? George Butler: A friend of mine was running for parliament in Jamaica, and he had a political rally in the parish church, and part of his rally included a bodybuilding exhibition with a guy named Samson. The power went out in the middle of it, so they lit it with kerosene flares. S.P / M & F: After the Sports Illustrated article came the book. I understand that you faced a few obstacles in attempting to get it published. Hadn't Doubleday given you an advance to do the book? George Butler: Right. We did the entire book and turned the manuscript in to Sandy Richardson, who was editor in chief at Doubleday, and he wrote us a letter saying, "I want my money back. No one will ever read this book, and no one will ever be interested in Arnold Schwarzenegger." S.P / M & F: So then you shopped it around in New York? George Butler: Yeah. We ended up at Simon & Schuster. S.P / M & F: That was in '74? George Butler: Late '74. S.P / M & F: And was it a success? George Butler: Yes. It made The New York Times Best Sellers List. S.P / M & F: How many editions have there been? George Butler: I think about 20 printings. S.P / M & F: Your book is what inspired me to take up bodybuilding. When I was about 10, I remember thumbing through a copy in a department store and coming to the picture of Arnold with a topless girl on his shoulders, and I thought, "That's what I want to be." George Butler: Well, bear in mind that the woman on his shoulders was the top woman bodybuilder at the time. I took those photos for a Playboy article, and Arnold was supposed to be the male bodybuilder, and Heidi was supposed to be the female bodybuilder. S.P / M & F: Did you have funding at this stage? George Butler: Well, funding came in very erratically and with great difficulty. I actually went to 3,000 people one by one to finance the film. S.P / M & F: 3,000?! George Butler: Yeah, it's really true. I'm not exaggerating. S.P / M & F: So you then went out and shot some footage? George Butler: We shot a test film, and I screened it in New York for 100 investors, and [actress] Laura Linney's father [playwright Romulus Linney - pictured above] got up and said, "George, if you ever make a movie about Arnold Schwarzenegger, you'll be laughed off 42nd Street." S.P / M & F: That kind of negative attitude still astounds me. George Butler: What you've got to understand is that back in the early '70s, bodybuilding was the least glamorous sport in the world. The prevailing view was that it was purely homosexual, that bodybuilders were totally uncoordinated, that when they grew older their muscles would turn to fat, and that they had no intelligence whatsoever. Charles Gaines (pictured below - far left) said that it was like trying to promote midget wrestling. It was so tawdry...everyone we knew was laughing at us. S.P / M & F: It's amazing not only how far bodybuilding has risen since then but how far it seems to have fallen at that time. Back in the '40s and '50s, guys like Charles Atlas and Steve Reeves didn't portray that image. George Butler: Yeah, but there were limited pockets of bodybuilding. If you look at Charles Atlas, he wasn't really much of a bodybuilder, and Steve Reeves made it in the movies and was very handsome. Look at it this way; Arnold Schwarzenegger arrived in America in 1968, and when we met him in 1972, the Mr. Olympia contest was held in a tiny little auditorium in Brooklyn and the prize money was something like $1000 and only Arnold and Franco were making it as professional bodybuilders. Everyone else had another job. Leon Brown worked at a Laundromat in Staten Island. S.P / M & F: I know that Steve Michalik was a graphic artist. George Butler: Steve (pictured above) had to have a full-time day job, and he was Mr. America. It was a joke it was so bad. S.P / M & F: How big a crew did you have for the filming? George Butler: Well, the way I shoot films, my crews expand and contract. For instance, when I was shooting at Lou Ferrigno's gym in Brooklyn, it was really just half a dozen people. When we were shooting at Gold's Gym, we had a bigger operation. It was probably 12 people, which included the cinematographer, gaffer, the assistants, and me, and some electricians, etc. Basically I'm very proud of the fact that I've always worked with a small crew. When we were filming in South Africa at the contest, we were running about six cameras, and with South African assistants we probably had 30 people. S.P / M & F: It feels like a larger production, though, especially the competition scenes in which you go from backstage to the audience's perspective to onstage. What kind of a budget did you have? George Butler: I raised $400,000 to make the movie. S.P / M & F: Amazing that you could film for so long on such a small budget. You shot for about three or four months, I figure. George Butler: Yeah. S.P / M & F: And so when "Pumping Iron" was released, was it straight to the art houses, or did it have a wide release? George Butler: Actually it began at the Plaza Theatre, which was a regular movie theater in New York, and it broke every box office record there at the theater. S.P / M & F: Were the reviews generally positive? Are there any memorable stories related to the film's release. George Butler: Oh, yeah. Well, it got fabulous reviews, and through a friend I got Jacqueline Onassis to come to a lunch for Arnold and that sent people through the roof. And I put Arnold before that in the Whitney Museum and in a ballet studio, and I got Jamie Wyeth to paint him. S.P / M & F: Now, I remember the movie from PBS. It was before VCR's, so I used to run to the TV with my audio tape recorder and tape the audio for later listening. When did PBS start airing it? George Butler: Probably, I would say, in late '77. S.P / M & F: So pretty soon after the release? George Butler: Well, it was released in January '77. So probably in October/November, it went on PBS. Even that was exasperating. The distributor, which was a company called Cinema 5, which was like the Miramax of its day, sold 'Pumping Iron' to PBS for 30 grand. About a week later, ABC came to me, and Tony Thomopoulos (pictured below), the president, asked me if he could buy it. I said, "Well, how much?" and he said, "$1,000,000." S.P / M & F: And by that time it was too late? George Butler: Yeah. S.P / M & F: Now among the bodybuilding set, there is a lot of speculation concerning a few of the scenes in 'Pumping Iron'. I've talked to others who have wondered if some of the film is documentary or maybe a little bit of the guys acting for the camera. One case in particular that everyone talks about is the "missing T-shirt/crusher scene" and the on-screen friction between Ken Waller and Mike Katz. How much of that was real? George Butler: The only tricky thing involved there is that Waller (pictured below) evidently stole Katz's T-shirt because we got on film Katz saying, "Where's my T-shirt? I bet Waller took it." And so we filmed the before after. S.P / M & F: With him tossing the football around with Robby and Roger talking about how he was going to do it? George Butler: Exactly. S.P / M & F: What about Arnold? He told so many great stories that are still debated, like whether he really missed his father's funeral (as he states in the film). George Butler: That's true. He did not go to his father's funeral. S.P / M & F: And when he made his analogy of a pump feeling like an orgasm, did he clear that with you first or was it just extemporaneous? George Butler: No, that was extemporaneous. S.P / M & F: Were there any things that didn't make it to the screen that were great, funny, or remarkable? George Butler: [Laughing] Thousands of things. S.P / M & F: Any that you can share? George Butler: Yeah. I've got Louie saying on film, "All I want to be is the Hulk," and this was several years before he became the Hulk. S.P / M & F: Amazing. Now you've got four main protagonists in the film, and each one was pretty different from the others. I'd like to get your thoughts on each. What was your impression of Mike Katz? George Butler: I adored him. He was authentic, and he always wore his heart on his sleeve, so you could tell on his face what was going on in his mind. The most amazing thing I know about Mike Katz (pictured below) is that he was a high school teacher. We filmed him at his high school, and I watched him playing touch football, and he began on the zero yard line, and he ran 100 yards down the field. There were a lot of good high school athletes there, and no one could touch him. I mean he went so fast, and he was so agile. You've got to remember, this was a guy who played track, hockey, and football. Three sports. All-American in college. You know, he was a New York Jets lineman, and I'm pretty sure he could have played professional hockey or could have thrown the discus or something like that. I mean, he's an astonishing athlete and a great human being. S.P / M & F: I've had the opportunity to speak with him and found him to be a thoughtful and considerate person. George Butler: He's a fine human being. S.P / M & F: What was it like shooting the scenes with Lou Ferrigno and his dad? George Butler: Well, when you make a film like 'Pumping Iron', you've got to put a good story together, and I had a keen insight into Louie's relationship with his father. I knew that he was the perfect bodybuilder to set up as the guy who could, or might, knock off Arnold. And the contrast was perfect. Louie worked out in a small, dark gym in Brooklyn that was actually R&J Health Studio, which was owned by a man named Julie Levine. And Gold's Gym in California was the exact opposite. Louie would work out in these tiny little rooms with one person around him and his father, and Arnold would work out in a gym in California that had its doors open, was wide open, right on the beach. And it was light and airy, and Louie's was dark. Louie was dark and brooding. Arnold was blond and big and beachy and stuff like that. But both men are sons of policemen. I found that very interesting, and I'm sure Arnold subconsciously registered that. So the film set up this wonderful contest between these two men, and of course Louie was 6'5" and he's a giant, really. But here's something interesting not many people know. Nik Cohn wrote a movie called 'Saturday Night Fever'. He wrote the screenplay for it, and the whole Italian family, John Travolta's family, is modeled on Louie and his family. S.P / M & F: You're kidding! Actually, I can see it. Like the scene in which Louie's family is sitting around the kitchen table... George Butler: Yes! It's all John Travolta's family. With his sister and brother and the Catholic Church and everything else. It was modeled on them in 'Pumping Iron'. S.P / M & F: That's too funny! Moving on to Franco. He seemed like a lot of fun to be around. George Butler: I was always very fond of Franco. It was my idea to go to Sardinia and film there. That's when we were really doing seat-of-the-pants film making because three of us went to Sardinia: myself, Bob Fiore, and his girlfriend, who was Marshall McLuhan's daughter. I did sound and lighting, and Bob did lighting and camera work, and we were able to do key scenes for the movie in Sardinia with literally a two-man crew. And it worked. And we got stopped by the police in the mountains. It was very exciting stuff because Franco's mother and father were real shepherds, and I'm not even convinced any other Americans had been to his village before us. It was way, way up in the mountains in Sardinia, and it was so remote, and it was so high up that there was still ice in June on the lakes. At one point Franco chopped a hole in the ice and caught some trout, which he served us for lunch. One another occasion Franco's family put me in the only available bedroom, which was his sisters' room. Five of his sisters were going to sleep in the room with me, so this was quite wonderful. Then I realized Franco's father was sitting right outside the window at the foot of my bed, watching me all night long. S.P / M & F: How long were you in Sardinia? George Butler: Probably a week. S.P / M & F: That's fun footage. The movie is so international, and it's amazing how you did it on such a small budget with such a small crew and yet it's this globe-hopping excursion. George Butler: Well, we filmed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Montreal. We filmed at the Whitney Museum in New York. We filmed in Connecticut. We filmed in Massachusetts. We filmed in Paris, and we filmed in South Africa. S.P / M & F: Now I'd be hard-pressed to figure out exactly which scenes were shot where. George Butler: Well, where Franco blows up the hot-water bottle is in Massachusetts. Mike Katz was filmed in Connecticut. The movie actually opens in San Francisco. S.P / M & F: Is that the ballet scene? George Butler: The ballet scene was New York City. That was another location I forgot to mention. It was shot in Joanne Woodward's dance studio in Manhattan. S.P / M & F: Another interesting tidbit. Turning now to Arnold. We all know that he is this self-made man. What was your impression of him? Did he just seem like a guy who was born to be successful? George Butler: Yeah, well, the reason I made the film was because I thought he was very charismatic and interesting and smart. But initially, when I met him, he had been in America for four years and virtually nothing had happened. You know, he wasn't in other movies. We were the first people outside of bodybuilding to interview him. S.P / M & F: Yeah, he did Hercules In New York and then kind of laid dormant for awhile. George Butler: Hercules Goes Bananas. S.P / M & F: With Arnold Stang. George Butler: [Laughing] Yeah. And even his voice had to be re-dubbed in that movie. S.P / M & F: That's probably the best aspect of it: the overdubbed voice. George Butler: And I'll tell you another little sidebar. When I was trying to get 'Pumping Iron' going, I was very short on money. So I went to this lab in New York, and I had just come back from shooting the initial part of the film. I asked them if they'd give me some credit, which is the kind of thing they normally do when you get going on a movie. This was a place called 'DuArt Film Lab', and the owner of it was someone named Irwin Young. So I went in with my hat in my hand and asked him if he would give me $15,000 worth of credit. He said, "Tell me what you're doing," and I said, "Well I'm making a movie about bodybuilding." Then he said, "Does it have anything to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger?" and I said, "Yes." So he said, "Forget it. I won't give you any credit. I had a movie in here called 'Hercules In New York', and they never paid a bill, and they owe me 30 grand." S.P / M & F: That's a riot! What a coincidence. George Butler: [Laughing] It was an unfortunate one. Arnold Schwarzenegger's message he posted on Twitter about the passing of his friend George Butler: Check out this video where John Hansen interviews Charles Gaines about Pumping Iron. Some recent footage of George Butler and unfortunately he didn't look well... RIP George Butler.
  3. Old Charles Atlas Advert - From Skinny Weakling to Muscle Man Charles Atlas, born Angelo Siciliano in 1893 based his adverts on his own life. Bullied as a youngster, he began training using isometric exercises only, no weights or drugs. Atlas was named "The World's Most Beautiful Man" in 1921 and "The World's Most Perfectly Developed Man" in 1922 in contests sponsored by Bernarr Macfadden, publisher of Physical Culture magazine. In 1928, with the help of adman Charles Roman who coined the term "Dynamic Tension" to describe Atlas' equipment-free body-building program, and he also created several imaginative ad campaigns, usually using comics narratives, to demonstrate the benefits of Dynamic Tension. Source:

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