On the First Lady of Fitness, Betty Weider

By Digital Archivist
June 6, 2016

Although Joe and Ben Weider are both widely recognized for their many contributions to fitness, most Americans know less about Betty Weider’s long involvement with fitness and the important role she played in launching the women’s fitness movement of the 1980s. This recent article does a nice job of highlighting some of her contributions. We are very proud that the Joe and Betty Weider Museum is part of the Stark Center and are very grateful to all the Weider family and the Joe Weider Foundation for their support. We are also delighted to see Betty get some of the credit that she so richly deserves.


Stark Center Pages:

Another Weider Gift

By Terry Todd
February 13, 2012

In 2008, Joe and Betty Weider donated a second million dollars to the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports at the University of Texas, and as a way to thank the Weiders for their many contributions to the fields of exercise and health as well as for their financial support to the university, The Joe and Betty Weider Museum of Physical Culture was established within the Stark Center. In addition to the million dollars, the Weiders also gave almost all of their personal art collection relating to the field of physical culture. A small part of that collection came to the Stark Center at that time, and just this week a larger part of the Weider Collection arrived at our facility. This most recent gift consisted of the remaining five portraits of prominent bodybuilders painted by the late Thomas Beecham. We already had the portraits of Franco Columbu, Lee Haney, and Larry Scott, and they’re now joined by the larger-than-life-size images of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Frank Zane, Dorian Yates, and Rick Wayne. In addition to the famous portraits in the Beecham Series, we received a bronze bust of Eugen Sandow dressed as the prominent businessman that he was, a bronze from the early 20th century of a gladiator, and a gold-plated enlargement of the Sandow pose used for the “Olympia” trophies. All of these pieces came with the same marble bases on which they were displayed for many years at the Weider Building. The most significant addition to the Weider Museum is a painting of Eugen Sandow as a Roman gladiator done in 1893 by the well-known artist Aubrey Hunt. Approximately 8’6” high and 5’6” wide and in an elaborate frame, the portrait depicts Sandow’s entire body as he stands near the center of a coliseum dressed in a leopard-skin and wearing Roman sandals. Although not a particularly accurate representation of Sandow’s physique and bodily proportions, it is nonetheless definitely the nonpareil himself. The Hunt Sandow has hung high on the wall for many years in the entry hall of the Weider Building as the featured painting in the collection, and it will be the featured painting in the Weider Museum here at UT as well. This unique portrait has had a long and interesting back-story and in our next issue of Iron Game History David Chapman, author of the definitive biography Sandow the Magnificentwill discuss this majestic, significant, and striking work of art. It would be hard to overstate our gratitude to the Weiders—Joe, Betty, and Ben Weider’s son, Eric, who now serves as the C.E.O. of Weider Enterprises—for their ongoing willingness to share with the wider world the treasures as well as the treasure the family has collected and earned over the years. I believe that Jan and I speak for fans and students of physical culture everywhere when we send a thousand thanks to the Weider family for what they have done and are still doing for the iron game in general and for UT in particular.

The Weider Museum Documentary

By Terry Todd
November 4, 2011

The reception to celebrate the official opening of the Joe and Betty Weider Museum of Physical Culture was private, and only invited guests were allowed to take photographs or to videotape the occasion. Almost 200 professional photographs—taken by several leading photographers including John Balik, the publisher and editor of Iron Man magazine and Robert Gardner, a longtime fashion and sport photographer who also worked for the Weider magazines for decades, are already up on our website. As for moving images, the main video team was from MUSL, a group intent on creating a cable channel focusing on all aspects of physical culture. (Their website is www.musltv.com.)

Elmer Bitgood’s Boulder Bell

By Terry Todd
December 14, 2010

This is the first of what I hope will be more regular and frequent additions to the Director’s Blog, which I allowed to lapse some months ago due to a combination of other time demands related to the Stark Center, travel, several lengthy writing projects and, of course, procrastination—my old standby. Anyway, I have notes on about 20 new blogs and will do my best to stay on task as we move forward and keep people informed about activities here at the Stark Center. For one thing, we’re fortunate to have recently received a number of wonderful additions to the Center’s various components—the Joe and Betty Weider Museum of Physical Culture, the Todd-McLean Library, and the Sports Gallery. In the first of the new blogs, I want to explain a bit about one of these additions–an artifact from a unique group of primitive weights which are more or less what Barney Rubble might have lifted—and how we acquired it for display in the Weider Museum. So here goes:

OUR BODY: The Universe Within (Closed Exhibit)

By Terry Todd
April 14, 2010

Update: Exhibit Closed. Click here to see our current exhibit.

Following a month of complicated negotiations, the Stark Center is very pleased to announce the opening of a major traveling exhibit, which will be the inaugural presentation in the Joe and Betty Weider Museum of Physical Culture. Because of unanticipated hold-ups with the construction of several permanent displays for the Weider Museum, we decided to join forces with the owners of an exhibit–OUR BODY: The Universe Within-as a way to bring visitors to the Center, generate revenue, make use of the beautiful museum, and fulfill our mission of sharing knowledge about the history and importance of physical culture.