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Legendary Fitness Guru Jack Lalanne is Dead at 96


Fitness guru Jack Lalanne has died at 96, of respiratory failure following a bout of pneumonia.

The L.A. Times:

"LaLanne opened what is commonly believed to be the nation's first health club, in Oakland in 1936. In the 1950s, he launched an early-morning televised exercise program keyed to housewives. He designed many now-familiar exercise machines, including leg extension machines and cable-pulley weights. And he proposed the then-radical idea that women, the elderly and even the disabled should work out to retain strength."

Neatorama has 10 facts about Jack LaLanne you might not know.

Update: A Tipster writes in to us with a passage he claims is from something called The Gay Book of Lists.

Incensed at the growing visibility of gay men in Los Angeles, the former king of television (Jack LaLanne) announced in 1979 that he planned to march down a one-mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard with a 350-pound barbell on his shoulders in order to protest the "damn queers and homos and little boy prostitutes" who has "taken over Hollywood."

I haven't been able to find anything online to corroborate this, so, I was wondering if anyone out there had any knowledge of this claim.

Watch the first Jack Lalanne Show, and the AP's report on his death, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. I have no proof, and a quick Google did not help, but I somehow associate Lalanne with some antigay comments.

    Sorry for his wife - at least they had a very good run together.

    Posted by: TonyG | Jan 24, 2011 8:44:31 AM

  2. He was in Thom Fitzgerald's gay themed film called BEEFCAKE; didn't comea cross as anti-gay in the slightest. He even did nude shoots with other guys back in the 50's/60's.

    Posted by: Shaun | Jan 24, 2011 8:55:05 AM

  3. "The Gay Book of Lists" was published by Alyson Publications and written by Leigh Rutledge, IIRC. It's out of print now.

    Posted by: JSH | Jan 24, 2011 9:14:22 AM

  4. Like @TonyG, I remember some anti-gay comment by Jack back in the 80's or 90's and I was shocked at the time. I grew up watching his shows and I thought his natural remedy for living would make him a bit more lenient in his views. I tried a quick google, but couldn't find any article on it.

    Posted by: woodroad34d | Jan 24, 2011 9:43:20 AM

  5. years and years of gay bookstore service, I know exactly what your referring to and it's bogus.
    Leigh Rutledge is (was? i hope he's well...)a sweet guy that never was forced to do fact-checking with Alyson. I wouldn't blame Leigh, but that story is incorrect. You will note that Alyson is now bankrupt are a long history of publishing trashy fake bios of porn stars and sleazy jerk off fiction. (And my book, which was the worst of them all...)
    Let Jack's reputation be untarnished!

    Posted by: BangBang LaDesh | Jan 24, 2011 10:06:27 AM

  6. Lots of nude shots here:

    Posted by: Dan | Jan 24, 2011 10:17:45 AM

  7. Bang Bang and JSH are both right--I actually have the book (along with the Gay Fireside Companion), and that anecdote is included. Might have been heresay, without any actual transcripts to back it up, but would certainly dovetail with Woodroad's story.

    Posted by: Dback | Jan 24, 2011 10:31:23 AM

  8. I, too, remembered some kind of anti-gay outburst, but also found him to be very open in that movie. So either the outburst was fake or he changed. It's shocking when bodybuilders from that era are homophobic in a way because they were all (or most of them were) making money by being "admired" by gay fans.

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Jan 24, 2011 11:18:55 AM

  9. It is extremely irresponsible for this quote to be published since there is no proof it was uttered by him. In 1979 Jack did pull a bunch of boats for his 65th birthday, but I never heard of anything like this weird story.

    Posted by: taylor | Jan 24, 2011 11:35:20 AM

  10. "I haven't been able to find anything online to corroborate this, so, I was wondering if anyone out there had any knowledge of this claim."

    Well, if you couldn't corroborate it and you have one poster who has pretty strongly suggested it's fiction, then, perhaps you can update the post by erasing it and let the rumor die.

    Posted by: Vince of Ferndale | Jan 24, 2011 12:02:58 PM

  11. @Shaun:

    I also saw Beefcake. He seemed cool with the whole homoerotic photography thing. Lalanne even jokingly asked the interviewer if he wanted to go out on a date.

    Posted by: Hank | Jan 24, 2011 1:17:29 PM

  12. Why is it someone felt the need to dump on his memory for something allegedly said over 30 years ago? Is it not possible to leave negative comments out of news these days?

    Posted by: Clayton | Jan 24, 2011 3:04:01 PM

  13. He also got a baseball bat and walked all over Key West threatening the "faggots" and "queers," but apparently we don't mind being threatened, so let's lionize him.

    Posted by: Hugh | Jan 24, 2011 3:11:57 PM

  14. Hey ,I'm a fag and I'm proud of it! And Jack can call me anything back then and I'd smile!

    Posted by: Bing | Jan 24, 2011 5:02:50 PM

  15. I regret that I cannot recall an exact quote, but back in the early 80's or so I definitely remember his antigay comments being widely reported and not denied. I have a dim recollection of watching an interview in which he defended the comments, but at my age dim memories are often all you have and are not reliable.

    So I won't say WHAT he said but I will say that since that time I have been anti-Lalanne because I know he said SOMETHING.

    Posted by: phil | Jan 25, 2011 2:11:35 AM

  16. He was most definitely closeted. Years ago when I was in Chicago having dinner with friends. He walked into the room to much fanfare, and as he walked pass my table he approached me for my number and asked me out. I was shocked that he looked great in a Italian suit and was quite macho. He noticed my hesitance to give him my number as I was barely 25 and he grabbed my hand and put it near his crotch and told me "it all still works". Not sure what the arrangement was with his wife but he definitely had a thing for twinks.

    Posted by: Shane | Jan 25, 2011 8:16:56 AM

  17. One can web search "Jack Lalanne" and "Homophobe" and get quite a few web hits. He also grew up in the Bay area from what I can tell and may have lived in Bakersfield some, his first exercise show was on a San Francisco TV station. I'd probably read a biography if one ever came out on him. You would think he'd be more discrete and not alienate the public by saying such things plus as well as his being involved in those photos way back then, muscle beach and the body building scene, for the latter two, the book by Randy Roach: has a little bit on Jack Lalanne in it. They say Lalanne denied those beefcake pictures so to additionally make homophobic statements stirs the pot up some. If anyone wants a real health hero who lived to 104 and only died because a van hit him on his morning exercise walk, google "Joe Rollino", vegetarian, passed away about a month ago. I kind of have mixed feelings on JL.

    Posted by: Ned | Feb 12, 2011 10:18:41 AM

  18. I don't like JL's general voice and attitude in this article, really.

    Playboy interview from some time ago, in question 14 he talks about the Gay issue some.

    Posted by: Ned | Feb 12, 2011 4:59:08 PM

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