Saturday, September 15, 2007
When I was a kid, this was guy we wanted to look like: Mr. America, Mr. Universe, Mr. World, Steve Reeves. Shoulders a yard wide, good-looking, women crawling all over him. Fit, strong, and healthy, Hercules himself. (Awful movie, if you want, you can watch it as a streaming vid, it's in the public domain.)
I got a 110-lb set of weights when I was thirteen, and did endless reps with as much weight as I could handle. Didn't help -- I remained short and skeletal -- at that age, I was just over five feet tall and about a hundred pounds. Didn't occur to me I need to eat more if I wanted to get bigger, I thought all I needed was the iron ...
The sword-and-sandal movies, in Italian, were the best-known of Reeves's roles, though he did appear in the 1954 classic, Jail Bait, aka The Hidden Face, directed by none other than the incomparable Ed Wood. He was so hot at the time of the Italian movies, the highest-paid actor in Europe, that he turned down the roles of James Bond in Dr. No, and The Man With No Name in A Fistful of Dollars, for which Sean Connery and Clint Eastwood must be thankful.
He retired from movies in the sixties, was a rancher and an exponent of PowerWalking, wrote, and offered training courses. He developed lymphoma and managed, with diet and exercise, to hold off death until he was seventy-four. He died in 2000.