Jumping Jack LaLanne


Dead at 96: Jack LaLanne.


I remember watching elfin Jack do squat-thrusts on TV, way back in the early 1960s.  He usually wore a bizarre little loose-sleeved smock with a plunging neckline and a shiny belt-buckle (see photo above). He’d been a bodybuilder in the 1940s and 1950s, but by the time he hit TV, he bore little resemblance to today’s fitness models; he looked more like a happy cabdriver or a friendly mailman.


But, like Tigger, he was very bouncy.


Also, like Tigger, it was very difficult to dislike him.


Jack’s days as alpha fitness guru ended in the late 1960s, but he refused to go away.  He became a former fitness guru.  He hawked Roman Meal Bread.  Then he pitched juicers for a long time, when he wasn’t towing cabin cruisers around Long Beach Harbor.  But he was always good old Jack LaLanne, with his wife Elaine (just say it aloud: Elaine LaLanne!) and their dog Happy, all grinning into the camera, having a wonderful time.


I used to have an autographed copy of one of Jack’s exercise books.  I gave it to my friend Apollonia, who gave it to her sister, a longtime LaLanne admirer.  (As my friend Sylvia says: you should pass things along.  It encourages others to do the same.  It’s a reminder that life is fleeting, and that possessions are nice to hold onto for a while, but you will need to relinquish them sooner or later, one way or another.  Better to give them away willingly, to someone who will enjoy them.)


Jack was asked the secret of his longevity.  He answered: “I can’t afford to die.  It would ruin my image.”




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