A childhood memory: Old Orchard Beach, Maine, August 1960 …
My six-year old best friend, Mike, and I are strolling along the shore, trying hard not to get sand in our hoagies. "See that big guy over there?" I remember him asking. "He looks like Steve Reeves."
"Steve who?" I nonchalantly grunted, between bites.
Mike glared at me as if I'd just landed from Mars. "Huh? Ain'tcha never heard of Hercules?"
"Um, no. I haven't."
"Well, listen, dim bulb, Steve Reeves is about the greatest movie star and strongman in the whole wide world. Stronger even than Superman. And he's Hercules in the movies. Sheesh! 'Steve who'. What a maroon."
"Oh, yeah, sure. I remember him now," I replied, not wanting to sound like a dunce. After all, I'd finished the first grade and considered myself a pretty smart kid. But, in truth, I hadn't a clue about this Steve Reeves fellow and was amazed that anyone in real life could actually have superhero-sized muscles.
I soon progressed from bewildered ignorance to enlightenment as I became a student, aficionado and historian of Steve Reeves. I learned that he began as a champion bodybuilder, so tattered copies of Mr. America and Iron Man became my reference books. Through them, I learned how Reeves injected symmetry and balance into a then obscure sport called "Bodybuilding," an endeavor very few "regular" people knew about, let alone understood.
Kids, especially, took to him-his chiseled good looks, intense blue eyes, tousled black hair and refreshing sense of adventure. In the late 1950s and early '60s, no one epitomized masculinity like Steve Reeves. He was a real person, of course, but on screen he seemed to exist above reality-a perfect alpha male creation who could exist only in fantasy.
Here's the best part: I grew up, found my niche as a freelance journalist, and on one sweltering summer day, landed my dream assignment: interviewing Hercules himself. This was far from an easy undertaking; it took planning, cunning, and a liberal dose of street smarts. In search mode, I stumbled across a copy of Cult Movies #18, featuring a Reeves interview. Oh, I felt such envy! Why couldn't it be me holding that microphone?
An autograph collector's reference book, purchased from eBay, supplied the necessary catalyst. Between Love Boat refugees and Murder, She Wrote guest stars, I found a listing for Steve Reeves. Now I had my key! One insightful letter later (with several published clips attached), I was navigating an interview with a demi-god.
I spent the next week compiling questions, doing reams of library/Internet research, and watching Hercules; Hercules, Unchained, and Duel of the Titans. Finally, tape recorder and copious notes by my side, I made that fateful phone call on July 7, 1997.
A female voice answered. We exchanged niceties, and then after a short wait, an extension was picked up: "Hello, Rod, this is Steve. How are you doing?"
Clash of cymbals, blast of celestial trumpets, and my mind went blank. Struggling, I managed to say, "I'm okay, I mean, I'm f-f-fine, Mr. Reeves. How are you?"
"Very well, thanks. And please, it's Steve, not Mr. Reeves. No need to be formal."
I blushed. "Fine, um, Steve."
Thus was launched my journey with Hercules-through his years as a Bodybuilder, the difficulties and triumphs of filming in foreign countries, superstardom, and happy, fulfilling retirement.
Steve struck me as complicated, intelligent, dignified, and succinct. His story reads like a publicist's dream: young, handsome (and unknown) athlete becomes the world's most famous international male star. Steve Reeves paved the way for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Vin Diesel, Hugh Jackman and other buffed-to-the-max action heroes to come. He created the mold, and celluloid has preserved it.
Now, he's gone, swept from us in the year 2000 at the relatively young age of 74 by a blood clot that developed after exploratory surgery. We mortals basked in his presence for too short a time-but the Reeves legacy will continue for as long as people appreciate physical perfection.
Ironic, isn't it? I was a naive small town kid who hadn't heard of Steve Reeves and by some strange fate, I ended up doing one of his very last interviews. I hope my hero approves.
Now, here is Steve's story, as he told it to me that day in his own words …
When I was 18, right after high school graduation, I traveled down to LA with a buddy. We both worked at the same place, and I'd just received my draft notice. Heck, I figured, why not take in a vacation before leaving for boot camp? Have a good time, while I still could.
We rode the tram, or trolley, or whatever it's called these days, from Hollywood to Santa Monica. And an odd thing happened on that ride-people asked me, "Are you a movie star?" I said, "No, no, I'm not." My friend and I laughed about it. Not many movie stars used trolley cars to get around!
Once in LA, we hit the beaches, and all the wrestlers there wanted me to try wrestling, and the acrobats wanted to turn me into an acrobat. I guess they felt I had potential, but more important things were on my mind-like World War II! With our vacation over, I went into the Army for a couple of years and lived life as a soldier.
I was discharged in September of 1947 and still didn't have a car. So, I bought a bus ticket and visited some LA guys I'd met in the service. It was a nice day, warm and sunny, and on the LA streets, it happened again: strangers remarked, "You look familiar. Aren't you a movie star?"
It occurred to me-maybe I should try being a movie star! But what did I know about approaching a studio or an agent? Nothing. Besides, I couldn't act my way out of a paper bag!
Life moved along at an uncomplicated pace. I'd always been athletic and started lifting weights at Ed Yarick's gym in Oakland, California. It seemed like a natural thing for me, and changes were logged quickly. My shoulders grew wider, my waist got smaller, and the legs of my pants split at their seams!
Other Bodybuilders I knew had blocky, thick physiques-more like power lifters. I was the polar opposite. In clothes, I looked like a fit person. But when I took off my shirt, it brought me a lot of attention. On the beach, girls ogled, people waved and whistled. As a young and naive person, having others respond that way was almost unreal.
A few of my gym buddies encouraged me to compete as a Bodybuilder. It sounded like a good idea. I won the Mr. Pacific Coast title in December of 1946 and the Mr. Western America crown in Los Angeles. Mr. America, the grandest of them all, put me smack dab in the record books.
Pundits called my build a "V-taper," meaning wide shoulders tapering down to a thin waist. They wanted to know how I did it. Thing is, I had no secret-once I applied weight-training principles, my body naturally developed that way! I wanted a quality physique, with flowing lines and proportioned, balanced muscle.
When I first joined Yarick's gym, I jumped from 163 to 193 in four months-30 pounds of solid muscle. Everybody wondered why I didn't get fat! What could I tell them? I lifted, ate good food, and left the rest up to genetics.
The key to working out effectively is concentration. I was always a solitary man at the weights, but times have changed. Now if you're a member of a gym and don't talk to anyone, people think you're stuck up; you're too good for them. They gossip about you behind your back. In my day, if you talked or gossiped, you were told to shut up or get the hell out.
I don't follow today's Bodybuilding. What I see sickens me. Well-being should always be Bodybuilding's major focus, not drug experimentation. Labs develop chemicals, not muscles.
Getting back to the Mr. America show, winning was no cakewalk! I've had two tough contests in my entire Bodybuilding career: the Mr. America and Mr. Universe. I went head-to-head with Eric Pedersen at the America. I'd beaten him two months earlier-in Los Angeles, for the Western Mr. America title. Eric had improved considerably and gave me a real run for my money. A great competitor, a super champion, that was Eric.
The showdown most people remember is the Universe, where I competed against Reg Park. That contest proved a real turning point for Bodybuilding. Reg was about my height and build, except he didn't have the V taper. My aesthetics were unusual. I walked out on stage, and the audience went crazy!
As a Bodybuilder, I possessed the three "Ds": Desire, Discipline, and Determination. I wanted it, went after it, and grabbed it.
My favorite Bodybuilding photographer was Tony Lanza. We worked together before the Mr. America competition, and some of those pictures are now quite famous. I named one "Perfection in the Clouds". I'd been looking through Look or Life, can't remember which, and saw a photo of these beautiful clouds. I cut my body out from a Lanza photograph and pasted it right over them. Voila! Perfection in the clouds!
During my days as a Bodybuilder, magazines wrote articles about me practically ever month. I never saw or read any of them! I'd be asked, "Steve, did you see your Strength and Health cover? Or the training spread in Young Physique?" None of that stuff interested me. Of course, I understand the value of selling yourself, of spreading the word, but I didn't have to chase publicity.
At the Mr. America contest, I received a letter from the Wallace Downey Agency, a talent group. It read, "Steve, come to New York. We'll find you work on the weekends in vaudeville, and you can go to acting school. Bodybuilding's a great springboard," they explained, "but we can make you a star!"
This offer dropped into my lap. Except there was one glitch: I'd enrolled at the San Francisco School of Chiropractic under the GI Bill of Rights and trading professional security for a dream struck me as foolhardy. But sometimes, you gotta go out on a limb! I decided to give them a call.
We talked, and their logic made sense-what did Bodybuilding have to offer, money-wise? It was a dead-end. Trophies wouldn't put food on the table, and New York City might open exciting career doors. So, I packed up and moved to the Big Apple.
New York was definitely a hectic change of pace. During the week, I attended acting school, and every weekend, I performed vaudeville routines with a comedian named Dick Birney. Dick played a Jerry Lewis-type character to my Dean Martin. This lasted about three or four months. Outside of preparing for an acting career, nothing much else seemed to be happening. I must admit, I also did a lot of soul searching!
Living in New York City was depressing. I hated all the constant hustle and bustle, and seeing poor people sleeping on sidewalks bothered me. I missed my more laid-back California lifestyle, its sunshine, beaches and fresh air.
At one of those vaudeville shows, a Cecil B. DeMille talent scout spotted me. We met up, and he said a new film was in pre-production, and I might have a good shot at the lead. Would I consent to a screen test?
My head spun. Screen test? And for Cecil B. DeMille, a famous director known for Biblical epics? Heck, yeah! On my 22nd birthday, I flew out to Hollywood, tested at Paramount, and immediately signed a seven-year contract.
Mr. DeMille saw the test and sent word that he wanted to meet me. I walked into his plush office, and on the walls were about six pictures, approximately 18 x 24. All top Paramount stars: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Alan Ladd, Dorothy Lamour, Betty Hutton, and right in the middle, Perfection in the Clouds!
"See that picture, Steve?" Mr. DeMille asked, shaking my hand. "He's my Samson." I couldn't believe it! I'd be starring in Samson and Delilah, with Hedy Lamarr!
No time was wasted. DeMille rolled out the red carpet: private acting lessons, an office to study in, every benefit you could possibly imagine. Once a week, I'd perform scenes from a play, while he watched and took notes from behind a two-way mirror.
Things were going well, until DeMille told me to lose 15 pounds. "The camera puts on weight," he explained. "At your present size, it'll be too much. You'll overwhelm the audience." 15 pounds? No problem!
But man! Those 15 pounds were a struggle. All I lost was 5! I'd be at the beach with my buddies, and they'd say, "Stop ruining yourself! You're the greatest there is, why do you want to be an actor?" I'd go back to the studio, and DeMille would yell, "What? Only five pounds? Hurry up and lose the other 10! We're almost ready to roll!" I'd work out at the gym and hear, "you look skinny." On and on like that, for three months!
Finally, Mr. DeMille took me aside and said, "Kid, you're not losing weight, like I told you. Some weeks, you're right on the money in rehearsal, and others, you're preoccupied and distracted. This is the most expensive production of its kind in many, many years, and I need an actor who's reliable. You're not that person, so I'm dropping your contract."
What could I say? It was true. DeMille replaced me with Victor Mature, and the movie broke box-office records. My immaturity had blown a very big opportunity. To think, 15 pounds stood between me and Hedy Lamarr! If only I'd been more diligent and less influenced by others. The lesson I learned is simple: listen to your director!
Any thoughts of being a movie star were put on hold. Years passed, without much action.
In 1953, my agent called; someone named Ed Wood was inquiring about me. Ed who? I'd never heard of him.
I'd done an obscure 15-minute unsold pilot called Kimbar, Lord of the Jungle, and somehow, Ed had seen it. He liked my look and offered me the role of a detective in this movie he'd written called The Hidden Face. They eventually changed the title to Jail Bait. More commercial, I suppose-though I liked the original one better.
Ed's a controversial character, I've been told. There's even a film about him (Ed Wood, Touchstone, 1994), and I caught some clips. What I saw surprised me. Ed may have worn women's clothes in private life, but not on my set! As a director, he more or less let you follow your own instincts, and I appreciated that.
Jail Bait barely went anywhere, and soon, MGM came calling with Athena-a major musical starring Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds.
Janie's last movie had been Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Debbie was very popular because of Singin' in the Rain. MGM figured Athena would be another blockbuster. Trouble is, Athena tanked! Unlike those other two movies, it told a contemporary story and featured all these Bodybuilders. I don't think the public was used to so much muscle in one sitting. Like Mr. DeMille said, it overwhelmed them.
I got my feet wet with some theatrical and TV work, starting with Wish You Were Here, a play that premiered in Sacramento and ended up on tour. Around 1954 and '55, I also performed a small part in the Broadway production of Kismet. My last Broadway play was The Vamp, starring Carol Channing.
For TV, I guest-starred on Burns and Allen, Topper, The Bob Cummings Show, Dinah Shore, Ozzie and Harriet, Red Skelton and The Ralph Edwards Show. None of it amounted to much, and the gym took up most of my time. I was under contract to American Health Studios, and they'd hired me as their public relations guy, a job that consisted of answering client questions or going to openings and cutting ribbons. Not great money, but not bad, either.
Then, I heard from an Italian film producer/director named Pietro Francisi. His telegram proved to be the greatest turning point of my career. He wanted me to star in a film about Hercules.
Francisi spent five years looking for the right man to cast. There were good looking guys in Italy, and well-built guys in Italy, and competent actors in Italy, but he couldn't find anybody who combined all three qualities.
One day, his 13 year old daughter saw Athena. She ran home and said, "Daddy, I found your Hercules." He went to the theater and pictured my face with a beard. That's when he sent me a telegram.
So, here was this totally unexpected film offer, and I thought, you've been trying for years to be an actor, why not try it? The chance might not come along again. Pietro's second telegram cinched the deal: a $5,000 advance and an airplane ticket.
Right away, I started growing a moustache and goatee. My boss noticed and asked, "Why the facial hair?"
Thinking fast, I said, "It's more distinguished. People respond better to sales pitches when you're distinguished." He believed me, but I didn't feel comfortable lying and fessed up. He realized this was my big chance, we both had a good laugh and parted amicably. I boarded a plane and flew off for Italy, not knowing what to expect.
Filming in a foreign country is a whole different animal. Oh, what language problems! I didn't speak one lick of Italian, the director [Francisi] couldn't speak or understand English, and neither did 90% of the actors!
I had to memorize the entire script and observe everyone's gestures. If they moved a certain way, I'd go into my line. To me, a good actor is a good reactor. He's very interested in what the other person is doing. I had to be very interested, or I'd miss all my cues!
There's a scene in one movie I made [The White Warrior] where chieftains are sitting around this campfire. I'm speaking English, the person beside me is talking Italian, another French, Yugoslavian, and Spanish. I figured the editing and dubbing people would iron it out later. Wrong! The scene still looks and sounds as confusing as when we'd filmed it!
Joseph E. Levine bought Hercules for American audiences in 1959; he was a Boston-based theater owner with a genuine knack for promotion. After dubbing the dialogue and doing a trim here and there, Joe put millions into a brilliant promotional campaign, inspired by Spartacus.
People think Hercules and Hercules Unchained were originally Joe's ideas. Fact is, both had already broken European box-office records two years before he'd even heard of them!
I must admit, I didn't like Joe Levine as a person. The man's abilities, however, cannot be faulted. He was a great promoter who got things done right, and he did them quickly, without any bull. That's a skill in itself.
Here's an interesting story: we were at a hotel in Rome. I was negotiating to do Morgan, the Pirate, and every star's contract has specific stipulations. Mine read that my name would appear above the title, and no producer, director, or other actor's name could be larger than 50% of the title. Pretty customary, overall.
Well, Joe Levine demanded his name above the title, too. In fact, larger than the title! And I said, "No way, Joe, no way. A contract is a contract, and I'm not budging." He was eating spaghetti and threw everything up in the air! Spaghetti and sauce were dripping from the crystal chandeliers! Heck, I didn't care. I had my point, and Joe knew there was nothing he could do about it.
Listen, when you sign a contract, it's a done deal. You agree or disagree beforehand. In the end, Joe backed off, but you can bet his ego resisted to the last minute. He tried to pull a fast one, and maybe with a less experienced person, he might have succeeded.
Hercules was such a runaway success that imitators began crawling out of the woodwork. Italian producers called up agents in Hollywood and said, "Go down to Muscle Beach and find me a bunch of muscular guys and send them over." Seriously speaking!
About six to eight Bodybuilders went to Italy and did Hercules-type films. In the right hands, Hercules could've been an incredible franchise, like Batman. But cheap B and C pictures with unknowns from Muscle Beach ruined its prospects, and things nosedived.
Their costumes weren't any good, the sets were lousy, and the acting left much to be desired. My movies had real polish. France supplied us with gorgeous actresses, the colors were bright and flashy, and I knew how to perform in front of a camera. Those other guys looked awkward and stiff. I didn't want to be lumped in with them. I wanted to be known as THE Hercules.
That's why I branched out with swashbuckling action vehicles, like Morgan the Pirate, Thief of Baghdad and The Last Days of Pompeii. Doing a third Hercules didn't interest me.
Speaking of Morgan, it was directed by Andre DeToth-he also directed the classic horror picture, House of Wax. Mr. DeToth wore an eye patch and a crew cut. A real man's man. Mr. DeToth, like Ed Wood, let you do the scene exactly as you wanted, with a little guidance or suggestion along the way. Thanks to the DeMille situation, I listened carefully to my directors!
I once turned down a film called The Founding of the Valiant, an English production. I was about 30 years old, and the part called for an actor of approximately 50. Still, I liked the story and suggested they talk to John Mills. They did, and Mills had a hit with it.
Hammer Studios asked me to do One Million Years BC, alongside Raquel Welch, but their offer was ridiculous: just $50,000. The Italians were paying me $250,000 per picture, so why travel to the UK and do location filming for anything less?
I was also asked to play the first James Bond in Casino Royale, but again, they paid peanuts. Sean Connery claimed the part with Dr. No and forever stamped it as his own. To me, he's just letter perfect. There'll never be a better Bond.
Duel of the Titans is one of my most popular pictures. I co-starred with Gordon Scott, a former lifeguard and the finest screen Tarzan this side of Weissmuller. We've been friends for more than 50 years, and I've nothing but immense respect for him.
Duel of the Titans was originally called Romulus and Remus. I'd be portraying both brothers, using camera trickery. Since that's very difficult to pull off convincingly, I suggested the producers find an actor for my brother, someone physically compatible and a box-office name. "Who?" they asked.
"Gordon Scott. He's a great looking guy and one of the world's most famous Tarzans."
". . . But we wrote the script with you in mind."
I hit them with, "I'll only do the picture if Gordon Scott is cast as Romulus."
They were over a barrel. Gordon got paid tremendous money, and Duel of the Titans turned out to be a blockbuster. I know why-there was a ton of muscle up on that screen!
I have absolutely no doubt my physique helped sell these pictures. Every fan letter pretty much says the same thing: "Your body is beyond belief." Hercules is all about muscle, and my costumes were designed to show it off.
Companies like MCI will contact me and say, "Look, we want to use the picture of you pulling the pillars down, and we'll pay X thousands of dollars, and it'll be two seconds on screen." Or, "We want to use one classic physique photo of you, and we'll pay X amount of money."
It's ironic, but I'm earning more from Hercules and Bodybuilding now than when I was involved!
Years ago, I'd go to a studio like Universal, and they'd say, we're so sorry, we can't give you a contract. At most, we might put you in one picture a year, but you wouldn't be the star or anything. Maybe an extra or a co-star, but you can't carry a movie, not with those muscles! So, my muscles worked against me for 10 years and helped me out for the next ten!
I saw Lou Ferrigno's Hercules, and as much as I like Lou, it didn't come off very well. They'd added these silly looking science fiction effects. I honestly felt like walking out half way. But I didn't want people saying, "Reeves is walking out cause he's jealous" or envious or anything. I thought, maybe the first half's not so good; it'll get better. And you know what? It didn't! The experience was painful!
They'd dubbed Lou's voice, and I'm often asked if my Italian films were dubbed. The answer is yes. We'd be working on set, and an airplane would fly over, or a bus would roll by, and they'd keep right on filming. It's not like here, in the States, with closed sets and silence, and everybody speaking one language.
For Athena, I used my own voice, and for Jail Bait, I used my own voice. The Italian films were done by New York radio actors. On Athena, I had to dub a line of dialogue, so I found out how it works. You're in this room, and sub-titles flash on the screen. A bouncing ball keeps time from word to word. Not exactly rocket science!
At the high point of my movie career, I'd shoot two films back to back, and once in a while, I did three. The fantasy/action genre worked for me, but it wouldn't last-the public's fickle, and their tastes change on a dime. On set of The Last Days of Pompeii, Sergio Leone, the assistant director, pulled me over and said, "Steve, I'm thinking of doing a western based on a Japanese Samurai film. Are you interested in the lead?"
Sergio directed most of Pompeii, despite the credits listing him as assistant director, first unit. Mario Barnari was the official director, an older man, maybe 75 or 80, and there as a name. Sergio had talent and energy, but what did he know about the Wild West? I turned him down flat.
Bad move! The film was A Fistful of Dollars, and it started a brand new trend! Certain people are born for certain parts, and Clint Eastwood has the right kind of persona. He owes his entire career to Sergio Leone.
At age 30, I started a 15 year project-I'd save up enough money, invest, and retire. 45 arrived, and it was time. Public tastes were changing, and I'd hurt my shoulder on The Last Days of Pompeii. I would do strenuous physical scenes-like picking people up and throwing them off ships-and afterward, be in severe pain. The injury hampered my career from then on. I'm still bothered by it.
Acting was stressful for me, very stressful. Not enjoyable at all. I loved the extra perks that went with being a star, but the actual filming? No.
Though I didn't drink or carouse and went to bed early, it was almost impossible to keep up the standard of a handsome leading man. My friends Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn died young. One was 40 and the other 50, and they loved what they were doing! But I didn't love it, not really. I worked for a buck.
Doing a western was a dream of mine. Truth is, no one believed me as a cowboy. They saw me as a gladiator or demi-god. Tunnel vision all the way. So, one day, I dressed up as a cowboy, walked into Universal studios, and talked to the head man. He blinked, rubbed his eyes and said, "Yeah, you do look like a western guy!"
One winter, I lived in Switzerland and had a tiny chalet, right at the end of the road. There was forest, forest and more forest beyond that. Besides hiking, I'd spend my time reading at the local library. An idea hit me! I took out 50 western novels, all paperbacks, narrowed them down to three I liked, and wrote a literary agent in New York City about securing the rights.
He said, "John Wayne has an option on one, and the other two, Clint Walker has options on. But I understand in February, Walker's gonna drop one and keep the other." Of all the 50 I'd read, Clint dropped the one I liked best! It was originally called The Judas Gun, but I thought, geez, that's too Biblical, so I retitled it A Long Ride from Hell. In Italian, that didn't go over too well. Translated, it means I Live for Your Death!
For the next six months, I collaborated with an Italian writer; he figured out the patterns-how to open and close a scene-and I did everything else. It was an excellent relationship, and we hammered out a pretty good script.
A Long Ride from Hell made money in Italy, but here in the States, not so much. Cinerama bought it as they were going under, and their distribution was poor. I watched it once, at a Del Mar drive-in. If it's ever released to tape, I'll be the first to buy a copy.
Though Ride is my favorite film, I'm still always asked about Hercules. People want to know how long I trained before a picture. My answer surprises them, I'm sure!
From November through March, while living in Switzerland, I'd go for long hikes through the mountains. That's how I built up endurance. Nowadays, it's called cardio. As for lifting, there weren't any gyms; the producer gave me a set of barbells, 50 pounders, and that's what I used.
Swiss food is terrific-you can't resist it. I'd gain maybe five to ten pounds during those six months off. About a month before the picture started, I trained hard and hiked twice a day, rather than once a day. My muscles have good memories; they snap back quickly.
Before the Mr. Universe contest, I hadn't lifted for a year. I worked out six to eight weeks and whipped myself into shape and won. Never once did I enter a show without believing I could place first, second, or third. There's nothing wrong with that-it's like the Olympics. A champ's a champ.
Yes, I'm very, very fortunate . . . but luck won't work unless you have a real drive to succeed. The year I'd joined Ed Yarick's gym, I packed on 30 pounds of muscle in four months, going from 163 to 193. Getting to 216 took another year, but I reached that goal and have maintained it ever since.
My father was built like I am now, 6' 1", 210 pounds of muscle-the strong genes are from him. By age 16, I was a very big boy. Genetics also gave me a good-looking face, which hasn't hurt!
Fans write me every day, and their letters touch my heart. "I'm 58 years old, still lifting weights, and my kids are working out, too," they say. "And you're the reason why." It's marvelous to hear from those people.
To be remembered at all in life is truly astounding, and Hercules put me on the map. It's a cultural phenomenon.
I've enjoyed a fantastic, rewarding career-as a Bodybuilder and as an actor. It startles me, sometimes! I only wanted to lift weights, and I ended up a famous movie star. Those people on the trolley obviously knew something!
Editor's Note: This interview was conducted on July 7, 1997. Photos for this story were loaned courtesy of George Helmer, author of the new book, "Steve Reeves Hercules Cookbook. Mr. Helmer is also the author of the forthcoming book, "Secrets of the Hercules Mindset" due out by Christmas. For more information on the life of Steve Reeves, go to Steve Reeves' website at www.stevereeves.com. Or write to: Steve Reeves International, Inc., PO Box 3547, Mission Viejo, CA 92690. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Reeves film credits
1. A Long Ride from Hell (1969) as Mike Sturges
2. Pirates of Malaysia (1964) as Sandokan
3. Sandokan, the Great (1963) as Sandokan
4. The Slave (1962) as Randus
5. The Avenger (1962) as Enea
6. The Trojan Horse (1961) as Aeneas
7. Duel of the Titans (1961) as Romulus
8. The Thief of Bagdad (1961) as Karim
9. Morgan the Pirate (1960) as Henry Morgan
10. Duel of the Titans (1961) as Romulus
11. The White Warrior (1959) as Hadji Murad, the White Warrior
12. The Giant of Marathon (1959) as Phillipides
13. Goliath and the Barbarians (1959) as Emiliano, Goliath
14. The Last Days of Pompeii (1959) as Glaucus
15. Hercules Unchained (1959) as Hercules
16. Hercules (1957) as Hercules
17. Athena (1954) as "Steve Reeves, Mr. Universe of 1950"
18. Jail Bait (1954) as Lt. Bob Lawrence
1. Kimbar, Lord of the Jungle (1949) as Kimbar
2. Topper (1953) as Masseur - episode title: Reducing
3. The Dinah Shore Show (1951)
4. The Ralph Edwards Show (1952)
5. Burns and Allen (1953)
6. The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1953)
7. The Jimmy Durante Show (1953)
8. Love That Bob! (1955)
9. The Red Skelton Show (1956)
1. Wish You Were Here (Sacramento, US tour)
2. Kismet (Broadway, US tour)
3. The Vamp (Broadway)
4. Vaudeville routines with comedian Dick Birney