The Professor, Before and After
By Terry Todd
January 27, 2010
In 1987, Jan and I acquired from the legendary Sig Klein a number of artifacts which had been in the Klein-Durlacher family for a very long time. Those artifacts included a copper-headed walking cane bearing the name of Professor Attila, which was the professional or “stage” name of Louis Durlacher, who taught Sandow much of what the famous strongman knew about strength and, especially, stagecraft. After he had helped launch Sandow’s career Attila left Europe and settled in North America in 1893. Another “Attila” artifact was a satin-smooth wooden wrist-roller Klein told me the Professor had brought from Europe. Much more significant, of course, was the remarkable scrapbook documenting the Professor’s long and successful career as a strongman and, later, as the owner of what for a time was arguably the most famous gym in the United States. The scrapbook has been scanned in its entirety, and will be made available to visitors to our website within the next couple weeks – check back soon for more information.
Even more significant, in the minds of some iron game experts, was the gilt-framed oil painting of Attila supposedly painted in 1887 by a “court painter” who did portraits of members of the royal family. The story I got from Klein, who got it from the Professor’s widow, was that one or more of the “royals” was grateful to Attila for the work he had done as a personal trainer and so he commissioned a particular court painter to produce a portrait of Attila as a present. In any case, the painting had come down to Klein and his wife (the Professor’s daughter Rose) and it was one of the very few things that Klein didn’t sell when he closed his landmark gym in Manhattan in the mid-1970s.
The Peoples Champion
By Terry Todd
January 15, 2010
The most recent of these periodic submissions provided some detail about how pleased we were to have picked up on our recent road trip what we believe is the very first power rack ever built/invented—a rack built in the 1940s in the cellar of Bob’s farmhouse along a creek in the beautiful rolling hills of East Tennessee, outside of Johnson City. This posting will be very brief, but when a member of the staff here at the Stark Center came across last week an envelope containing a number of photos of Bob Peoples and some of his training gear nothing would do but to share some of them with the few, but stalwart, readers of this blog. The photos in question are part of the Peary and Mabel Rader/Iron Man Photo Collection, and it was a real case of serendipity to come upon it less than a week after we brought to the Stark Center the very rack depicted in several of the photos.
The photos were obviously sent to Peary Rader by Bob Peoples in regard to a story in Iron Man, and perhaps someone who reads this will remember from the photos when that article appeared. Should this happen, I’d appreciate having the citation as I haven’t taken the time to search through my back issues of that wonderful old magazine. I’ve seen some of these photos in Iron Man in the past, but certainly not all, and although I’m not going to include all of them today it was impossible not to call attention to the coincidence of finding the photos just as the famous rack arrived in the center.
I’ve written extensively in the past about the many contributions Bob made through the years to training theory and equipment, and although I’m not going to rehash this information now, it seemed appropriate to share with readers/viewers some of these historic, eye-opening training devices.
There and Back Again
By Terry Todd
January 8, 2010
Jan and I returned last night from a ten-day road trip that was one of the most interesting and rewarding we have ever made. The trip originated when Mark Henry and his wife, Jana, told us that the birth of their second child was scheduled for the morning of December 30th in New York City and that they’d like for us to be there just as we were for the arrival of their son, Jacob Todd Henry, who arrived four years and two months earlier. Accordingly, we booked plane tickets, but as we thought about the trip we began to wonder if it might be better for us to drive up to New York so that we could also drop off a large collection of nitrate-based films and film-clips in the New York area for restoration and transfer to a DVD format. Readers might wonder why we couldn’t just ship the films with our luggage, but the reason is that nitrate-based film is considered hazardous material and, as such, cannot be shipped without special permits and very expensive packaging.
In addition to our need to get the films to New York, we also realized that after the birth of Baby Henry we could drive from the New York City area over to State College, Pennsylvania, to pick up the books, files, and papers of Dr. Charles Yesalis, a prominent researcher in the area of anabolic/androgenic steroids who had recently retired from the faculty at Penn State. Probably the most widely-quoted steroid expert over the past 20 years, Dr. Yesalis had told us a month or six weeks ago that he wanted his collection to be housed at the Stark Center, and that it would fill about 40 “banker’s boxes.” What’s more, we thought, if we drove up in a truck there were several other items in the northeastern and eastern U.S. that we might be able to collect either going there or coming home.