Jack LaLanne

Jack LaLanne
Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times


Jack LaLanne
TV: South side of the 7000 block of Hollywood Boulevard
TV Host
Born Francois Henri LaLanne on Sept. 26, 1914 in San Francisco, CA
Died Jan. 23, 2011 of respiratory failure in Morro Bay, CA

Television's first and greatest fitness guru, Jack LaLanne led millions of Americans through their daily calisthenics and made himself a legend with mind-boggling stunts demonstrating his physical prowess. In 1956, for example, at the age of 42, he set a record on the TV program "You Asked for It" by doing 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes.

On his 70th birthday, a handcuffed LaLanne swam a mile and a half while towing 70 boats with 70 people aboard. All the exercise apparently did him some good: He turned 95 in September 2009 and was still said to be working out two hours a day. Of his longevity, LaLanne quipped, "I cannot afford to die — it will ruin my image."

Born to French immigrants in San Francisco in 1914, LaLanne was deeply influenced by a lecture on nutrition he heard while a teenager. He later opened a health club in Oakland and invented the first modern exercise machines. The "godfather of fitness," as he was called, gained notoriety as a bodybuilder and began hosting his syndicated TV exercise program, "The Jack LaLanne Show," in 1951. The show remained on the air until 1985, making it the longest-running exercise program in television history.

To celebrate the show going nationwide, LaLanne, then 45, did 1,000 jumping jacks and 1,000 chin-ups in an hour and 22 minutes. Among his other feats, at age 61 he swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge underwater and handcuffed, towing a 1,000-pound boat. He eventually licensed his chain of health clubs to Bally.

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