Fitness Guru Jack LaLanne Dies at 96
By PopEater / Wire Services Posted Jan 23rd 2011 11:00PM
LaLanne died of respiratory failure due to pneumonia Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay on California's central coast, said his longtime agent Rick Hersh.
LaLanne ate healthy and exercised every day of his life up until the end, Hersh said.
"I have not only lost my husband and a great American icon, but the best friend and most loving partner anyone could ever hope for," Elaine LaLanne, Lalanne's wife of 51 years and a frequent partner in his television appearances, said in a written statement.
Just before he had heart valve surgery in 2009 at age 95, Jack Lalanne told his family that dying would wreck his image, his publicist Ariel Hankin said at the time.
LaLanne (pronounced lah-LAYN') credited a sudden interest in fitness with transforming his life as a teen, and he worked tirelessly over the next eight decades to transform the lives of others.
"The only way you can hurt the body is not use it," LaLanne said. "Inactivity is the killer and, remember, it's never too late."
His workout show was a television staple from the 1950s to the '70s. LaLanne and his dog Happy encouraged kids to wake their mothers and drag them in front of the television set. He developed exercises that used no special equipment, just a chair and a towel.
He also founded a chain of fitness studios that bore his name. In recent years, he touted the value of raw fruits and vegetables as he helped market a machine called Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer.
When he turned 43 in 1957, he performed more than 1,000 push-ups in 23 minutes on the 'You Asked For It' television show. At 60, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco -- handcuffed, shackled and towing a boat. Ten years later, he performed a similar feat in Long Beach harbor.
He maintained a youthful physique and joked in 2006 that "I can't afford to die. It would wreck my image."
"I never think of my age, never," LaLanne said in 1990. "I could be 20 or 100. I never think about it, I'm just me. Look at Bob Hope, George Burns. They're more productive than they've ever been in their whole lives right now."
Fellow bodybuilder and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger credited LaLanne with taking exercise out of the gymnasium and into living rooms.
"He laid the groundwork for others to have exercise programs, and now it has bloomed from that black and white program into a very colorful enterprise," Schwarzenegger said in 1990.
In 1936 in his native Oakland, LaLanne opened a health studio that included weight-training for women and athletes. Those were revolutionary notions at the time, because of the theory that weight training made an athlete slow, and "muscle bound" and made a woman look masculine.
"You have to understand that it was absolutely forbidden in those days for athletes to use weights," he once said. "It just wasn't done. We had athletes who used to sneak into the studio to work out.
"It was the same with women. Back then, women weren't supposed to use weights. I guess I was a pioneer," LaLanne said.
The son of poor French immigrants, he was born in 1914 and grew up to become a sugar addict, he said.
The turning point occurred one night when he heard a lecture by pioneering nutritionist Paul Bragg, who advocated the benefits of brown rice, whole wheat and a vegetarian diet.
"He got me so enthused," LaLanne said. "After the lecture I went to his dressing room and spent an hour and a half with him. He said, 'Jack, you're a walking garbage can.'"
Soon after, LaLanne constructed a makeshift gym in his back yard. "I had all these firemen and police working out there and I kind of used them as guinea pigs," he said.
He said his own daily routine usually consisted of two hours of weightlifting and an hour in the swimming pool.
"It's a lifestyle, it's something you do the rest of your life," LaLanne said. "How long are you going to keep breathing? How long do you keep eating? You just do it."
In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Dan and Jon, and a daughter, Yvonne.
Get more at Aol News.
2010 AOL LLC. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
Recently Departed Celebrities
David Nelson, Jan. 11: An actor who starred alongside his parents and little brother Ricky in the beloved TV series 'The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,' Nelson died at age 74 after battling complications of colon cancer.
Recently Departed Celebrities
- Filed under:
- Celebrity Deaths
- Jennifer Aniston
- Paris Hilton
Kate Middleton is officially a princess. She walked the aisle in an Alexander...
According to Denise, she's not sure that her estranged ex is completely sober....
Popeater Hot Topics
- Jaimie Alexander Wears Bikini, Peter Facinelli Goes Shirtless in Mexico: See the PDA-Packed Pictures!
- Jeff Perry: Scandal Actor to Join Us For Live Twitter Q&A! Submit Your Questions!
- Ellen DeGeneres Denies Marriage Problems With Portia De Rossi: "Very Happily Married"
- ?I Can't Believe It Is Happening': ‘The Little Couple’ Star Jen Arnold Tells Of ‘Terrible’ Mood Swings After Diagnosis With Rare Cancer
- Not Giving Up: Male Model Vows To Take Kourtney Kardashian Paternity Scandal To L.A. Court
- Experts: Kim Kardashian airbrushed to look thinner on US Weekly cover
- 'Today' show sign-language joke offends deaf community
- ?Scarface' star Steven Bauer looks back at iconic film 30 years later