Don't Weaken

A blog by Director Terry Todd

Joe Weider

By Terry Todd

Posted March 23, 2013

Early this morning Jan and I received a call from the family of Joe Weider that he had just died of natural causes in a local hospital near his home. To say that Joe was a giant in the world of physical culture would be an understatement, and a case could be made that his reach and influence in North America during the 20th century in that broad field exceeded that of any person living or dead. This reach and influence will be the subject of an upcoming special issue of Iron Game History, the journal we began in 1990. Over the 23 years that we’ve published IGH, we’ve only devoted an entire issue to one man–John Grimek–a legendary bodybuilder and weightlifter who was one of Joe Weider’s early inspirations and a personal friend in their later years.

As for Joe’s influence on the Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports, it’s not an exaggeration to say that had it not been for the generosity of Joe Weider there would be no Stark Center. No Joe and Betty Weider Museum filled with the paintings and sculptures they collected over the years and gave to us so we could share them with the wider world. Besides the art collection, Joe pledged $2,000,000 to allow us to expand the work we’ve done at the university, and their support of our dream gave us the courage to approach The University for the space in which to build our research center and to approach the Stark Foundation for the $5,500,000 to actually build it.

Joe Weider was Jewish, but he was also our patron saint.


  1. Alton Eliason, April 28, 2013:

    Either I have a letter or I gave it to you from Joe back around 1947 in which he expressed regrets not being able to accept my invitation to appear on one of my shows. Of course I subscribed to all of his Your Physiques, but did you know that Joe came to Ray Van Cleef for help in starting Your Physique and Ray was very helpful in getting started. They later had a falling out.

  2. Rob harmon, April 25, 2013:

    I just recently found out about the Stark Center and I live in Austin. Seeing this comment on Joe’s death, I am deeply touched. Unfortunately, unless you were/are involved in some type of bodybuilding or weightlifting activity, I do not think you fully understand the impact this man and family has made on our culture. For me personally, I have spent many an hour training in a gym and after 43 years, it is still a part of my life. Without the work of Joe Weider, I do not believe we would have the knowledge we have today about weight training and body building.

    On a related note, while he was from a different school of thought, we recently lost another icon that changed the way we train and look at exercise. Arthur Jones. While known the most as the father of nautilus training equipment, he questioned traditional thought around weights and weight training and I believe, was one of the first to bring more science into what works and what does not.

    I can only wish that a museum, a foundation, can carry on their contributions and not let them be forgotten.

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