February 22, 2005

Steve Reeves

If you've ever watched the Hercules movies on late night television, then you're familiar with Steve Reeves. It's obvious from his on-screen physique that he was a bodybuilder, but his pre-Hollywood career was phenominally successful and in fact he had to slim down and lose muscle mass to broaden his appeal to movie audiences.


Born in Montana in 1925, Reeves was strikingly handsome, personally charismatic and also blessed with the ability to quickly attain the bodybuilder's physique. To this day, his symmetry and overall looks are legendary.

Reeves began bodybuilding at 15 years of age and was always the first to admit he had a good foundation and was an "easy gainer". Within a couple of years, he was training under professional supervision in California and winning local competitions.

In 1944 he was drafted into the Army and he served for 19 months in the Asian theater, seeing action in the Philippines and being part of the initial U.S. occupation forces in Japan. During this time, he used improvised weight equipment and did rope climbing and calestetics when circumstances prevented regular workouts.

"I don't think there is one chance in 50 trillion that the particular mix of hereditary genes that formed the product we see in Steve Reeves will ever occur in combination again." -- Russ Warner, Muscle Magazine photographer

A little more than a year after his discharge from the military (and resumption of serious training), Reeves won the 1947 Mr. America contest. He was 21 years old. He went on to be a force in the bodybuilding world for several years, winning both the Mr. World and Mr. Universe titles.

And then Hollywood came calling.

At first, he was only used as impressive looking walk-on scenery in films and on television (he played a detective in Ed Wood's Jail Bait), and it wasn't until he was invited to Italy in 1959 to star as Hercules that his on-screen popularity soared. He went on to make a series of sequels and similar movies of the genre. In fact, he became so popular (quite possibly the first "action" star), that he was reportedly offered the role of James Bond in Dr. No and as the Man With No Name in A Fistful Of Dollars.

After injuring his shoulder in a chariot accident (he did his own stunts), Reeves was unable to continue serious training. He retired and bought a horse ranch. He remained a vocal critic of the use of steroids in bodybuilding, feeling that they went against the health benefits and inherent physical challenges of the sport.

The movie Gladiator was sometimes called the first "Steve Reeves type" movie to be done in decades. Some thought that Reeves should have been at least given a cameo in the film as a tribute to his groundbreaking efforts.

In May of 2000, Steve Reeves passed away on the same day that the movie Gladiator premiered. He was 74 years old, and had been diagnosed with lymphoma just six weeks previously.

Rocket Jones bondage moment Trivia: In the book Lash! The Hundred Greatest Scenes of Men Being Whipped in the Movies, ranking 7th is Reeves' flogging in Duel of the Titans and ranking 24th is his flogging in White Warrior.

White Warrior is available in the dollar bin at WalMart. It's not great, but it's not bad, and it's got Steve Reeves in it.

Posted by: Ted at 06:19 PM | category: Cult Flicks
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1 Could not of been said any better. He was, is, and
always will be the greatest physical specimen that
GOD has ever created. I remember as a kid watching
Hercules, and Hercules Unchained on Million Dollar
Movie every night during the week and 3 times on
Saturday and Sunday. He was the biggest inspiration to me growing up, and even now. He will be greatly missed. But, lucky we have his
movies to watch over and over again.

Posted by: Faustino A. Serino at March 28, 2005 01:44 PM (E3xVc)

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