Saturday, November 9, 2013
Dan Lurie, whose chiseled physique led the press to call him "America's most muscular man" in the 1940s, has died of old age at his home in Roslyn, New York, at the age of 90.
Born with a heart murmur, doctors told his parents that he wouldn't live to see his fifth birthday. Determined to exercise his "heart muscle" as much as his pectorals or biceps, Lurie took on strenuous jobs lifting furniture and running up five flights of steps -- all the while doing massive numbers of push-ups or sit-ups or one-armed pull-ups. By the time he turned 17, he could lift a 150 pound barbell above his head with a single arm. He once did 1,665 push-ups in 90 minutes.
When he was 19, Lurie finished second in the 1942 Amateur Athletic Union Mr. America contest. It was the first of three wins. It didn't matter to the U.S. Army, though, for they still rejected him for military duty in February 1943 due to his heart murmur.
But in 1944, the AAU declared Lurie ineligible for further competition for having appeared in paid advertisements for bodybuilding equipment. So Lurie began opening gyms in New York City, and eventually owned eight of them as well as one in Miami Beach. He then started selling bodybuilding equipment via mail, and became one of the most successful mail-order equipment suppliers in the country in the 1950s.
Throughout the 1950s, he appeared on a weekly TV show named Big Top in which he performed various strongman feats. The show's sponsor was the milk and cheese manufacturer Sealtest, and Lurie became known as "Sealtest Dan the Muscle Man".
Lurie heavily promoted bodybuilding as a sport in the 1970s and 1980s, founding the World Body Building Guild.
Lurie first posed nude in his late teens and early 20s for Al Urban. It was not uncommon for bodybuilders to do so. They were not respected as athletes, and too much muscle was considered grotesque and gauche by women at the time. Many bodybuilders routinely took the $50 offered by photographers (which could provide food and rent for a month) and didn't ask about to whom the nudes were being sold.
In his 30s, once he'd achieved more fame, Lurie posed nude for Earl Forbes and Edwin Townsend.
Some nudes are behind the cut.....