An Interview With Bodybuilding Great Dan Lurie - Part II
Part 1 | Part 2
In his last interview with Bodybuilding.com, bodybuilding businessman, promoter and champion, Dan Lurie spoke of his beginnings in the iron game and gave his views on the current state of the sport. Dan also spoke of his dealings with various high profile bodybuilding stars and promoters. His comments generated much discussion among fans and experts alike.
In my most recent discussion with Dan, he elaborated on many of the things mentioned in interview one, and gave me a greater insight into his fascinating life. As a real bodybuilding insider, Dan has seen and done it all and bears many scars that serve as a testimony to his willingness to seek the truth at all costs.
As this interview will show, Dan is still seeking the truth. Dan's comments are sure to provoke controversy, but his passion for the sport of bodybuilding, and quest for the truth, comes through strongly.
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.
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.
And that's how you say you originally came up with the name?
Yes, because it sounded good to me.
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.
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.
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.
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 picture of what he really looked like when he started - pathetic. But he became large when he took a statue of the body of Robbie Robinson and put his head on top. Now there is a big lawsuit going on because Robbie 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 (Robbie) wants his image back.
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 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.
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.
Joe says he discovered Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno
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 Columbo off at the TWA JFK airport. Arnold won the Pro and Boyer Coe won the Amateur event.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What kind 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?
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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."
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.
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 Columbo and asked him if he know 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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Weiders 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What about Bernar 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.
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.com, 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.
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.
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.
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 not 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.
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.
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.
On that basis, would you consider yourself to 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 150lbs. I remember the first time I did 100lbs with one hand I thought, wow am I strong. But it's all in the technique. I then went up to 150lbs.
At Sig Klien'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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Light, who represented York, won. In 43, Jules Bacon, 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 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 Light 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 Light and myself, and they were going to have an independent judge break the tie.
You know who the judge was? Sigmund Klein. Frank Light 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.
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
- 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
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 Carl
- George Burns
- Regis Philbin
- Charles Atlas
- Joe Franklin
- Mayor Abe Beame
- NYC Mayor Ed Koch NYC
Where 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.
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.
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."
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 118lbs weightlifting champion, Joe DiPietro. 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.
He didn't tell me who this friend was. It turned out to be the home of Lou Costello from Abbot 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Champions Salute Dan
Given Dan Lurie's prominence in the bodybuilding world of yesteryear, it is no surprise many of the champion's of that era either new him or where affiliated with his federation: The World Body Building Guild. A few of great champions from the 50s, 60s and 70s give their views on Dan.
"Dan Lurie. The powerful and alluring world of strongmen and muscles was not built by one man alone. It wasn't Sandow only who constructed the foundations of might and it wasn't Grimek and Reeves only who introduced classic lines to the male physique. The world of muscle and might grew by word of mouth and by print, by momentum of popular interest and by the passion of its early champions."
"Dan Lurie is one of those champions. He lifted tons, exhibited a Mr. Universe physique, printed words of inspiration and information for hundreds of thousands and spoke to the international audience to develop and popularize physical culture everywhere. He did these things when the sport was an infant, a child, a robust young man and the towering giant it has become today. Long live Dan, one of a kind."
Mr. America. Mr Universe. Mr World.
"I think Dan Lurie was very good for the sport as much as anyone else. For instance he used to be the Sealtest Strong Man (Sealtest was a milk company here in the New York area). He was very visible in the 60's especially on TV. I think he represented the bodybuilding community very well and yes I think back in that time he was a good ambassador."
"I knew Dan Lurie back in the 70's when he had an organization called the WBBG. At that time he had a thriving bodybuilding organization with some of the most elite bodybuilders of our time being a part of it. There where guys such as Sergio Oliva, Boyer Coe, Ken Waller, Dennis Tinnerino, Lou Ferrigno and of course myself."
"He used to have other big bodybuilding stars at his shows as well. Steve Reeves, Bill Pearl and Reg Park, these guys did not compete but they where a part of the event. Maybe most people don't know but in 1972 I won The WBBG Mr. America competition. I also appeared on the cover of one of his magazines as well."
"As we all know he was a big competitor of Joe Weider back then and Joe, I recall, was not very happy when he knew that some of his top guys where competing in a non IFBB show."
"I think it is very interesting that Dan really had pretty big foothold on bodybuilding back then and remember that all the top guys that where competing in his shows where IFBB bodybuilders. I think what happened was his inability to take care of all the top guys he had in his stable."
"I do recall an incident at one of the shows involving him and Ken Waller. Ken had won his competition and Dan was supposed to pay Ken lets say X amount of dollars, I don't know the exact amount, well from what I saw was that Dan did not want to pay him all the money and knowing Ken Waller that was not a good thing to do."
"Ken Seemed visibly upset about it because they got into a heated argument and the next thing I knew Ken had grabbed the money out of Dan's hands and counted out what Dan owed him and then gave him his change back. I think that one incident, that happened in front of quite a few people, might not have been too good for his organization."
"I do have to say one thing; he was always nice and cordial to me always. I remember after I had won the America Dan promised to pay my way and Lou Ferrignos way to the NABBA Universe in London in the next three weeks and he made good on that promise, he took care of me and Louie very well. I don't think most people know that Dan Lurie and Joe Weider used to be business partners years before the IFBB started."
Mr World. Mr. America
"When the final book on strength training has been written, Dan Lurie's name is destined to stand as an icon among the superstars. He has lived the life of a strongman/superstar/businessman for nearly 70 years. His story reads like a best-seller novel with as many twists and turns."
"Dan has gladly shared his wealth of knowledge on the fitness world with countless thousands over the years. The superstars of yesterday, today, and tomorrow owe him a round of applause for his tireless efforts to bring physical culture from a cult-like activity to a mainstream activity that is shared by the world. Everyone who loves the world of health and fitness cannot help but take their hats off to this living legend."
Mr. America. Mr. USA. Mr Universe. WBBG, Worlds Best Built Man.
"Dan Lurie's active competitive sports life came shortly before my time, perhaps ending a year or two before I one the AAU Mr. America Title in 1947. He'd already won America's Most Muscular Man three times, prior to the early 1940's. THis was an extremely turbulent decade, when America struggled on a global scale and - emerging from conflagaration - changed, and ultimately went in search of its new self.?
"Dan and I both fought our individual ways into this dawning challenging atomic age."
"I never personally knew DAn in the pre-atomic years, and yet we were contemporaries in the same sports field. But our lives paralleled as we made marks on the physical culture landscape such as it was ... when bodybuilding was a misunderstood revolutionizing ideal. The decade was our mentor, being neither kind nor overly brutal on our persons."
"Later, in the early 1950's, again Dan and I would symbolically cross paths, walking the same New York streets. Dan Lurie found himself trudging to the television studios of the period ... oh yes, I remember the mighty "Dan the muscle man" on the Sealtest "Big-Top" show."
"At the time I was busy pursuing my legitimate career in the theatre on the Broadway stage, some years before I played the legendary "Hercules" of the cinema."
"Yes we struggled in the same deep channels - and yet we did not know each other personally. Finally, in 1972 Dan and I met, and he would tell me how in awe of my influence on physical culture he was. So awed in fact Dan would enshrine me in his "World Body Building Guild Physical Fitness Hall Of Fame" ... and arranged it so that New York City presented me with the "Keys To The City" ... which was much appreciated."
"Fate had finally thrown us together as men of out times. My wife Aline and Dan's wife Thelma and we began to socialize, at Dan's home in North Woodmere N.Y., with his five married children and inlaws, and at my ranch in Valley Center, CAlifornia. Who would believe this powerfully-built man was an avid clock collector who owned more than 50 antique time pieces, all displayed in luxurious home? As Morgan horses are my pride and passion, this man was a person who viewed time as a collectible."
"It was then I discovered my contemporary as a friend. Over the next years I would come to realize a fine personal relationship - seeing many Broadway shows together, sharing experiences at restaurants - including my favorite dinners of lobster and chopped liver."
"We'd both - many believed - exerted a profound influence on our sport. We had both struggled through our respective lives into success ... each in his own area of interest- Dan as a sports promoter, barbell manufacturer, publisher, and health equipment marketeer ... and myself into a lucrative acting career. I found myself slightly sorry for having missed this man during the early years, for our present friendships might have made out struggles a bit lighter had they existed way back when."
"This husky fellow with his penchant for entertaining friends with singing and magic tricks has a sense of humor of great proportion. Dan is a very decent, family-dedicated Jewish man who would probably appreciate a little Jewish humor here."
"An elderly rabbi once impishly approached me, taking me by the upper arm (which was quite massive at the time) and wished me "Muscletuff!" - his humorous adaptation at the Jewish "Mozeltof" - a "good health, good luck" wish."
"Well to you, Danny and Thelma, and the readers who will now know you ... live and be happy ... "stay musceltuff."
Part 1 | Part 2
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I am not too good on a computer but I can read and I remember a lot from the old days and any young persons lucky enough to be around Dan Lure would do well to listen and learn because he knows just what the heck he's talking about and he's man enough to say it the way it is.I think he is a hell of a man and bodybuilder.