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FIRST SET: INTRODUCTION AND OLD FRIENDS REMEMBER

What does the 1945 film "The Bells of St. Mary's", Norman Rockwell, Broadway,"Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.", the golden era of bodybuilding, the Scottish Highland Games and chiropractic medicine all have in common? Put that strange amalgamation of words into a blender ( hold the protein powder for now if you will) mix at high speed to a nice creamy consistency, pour it out and one name will emerge, Dick Tyler!

For 26 years Dick Tyler was an actor. Starting at age 7 as "Dickie" Tyler, the young thespian utilized his talents on Broadway in such productions as "Tomorrow the World", "MacBeth" and "Christopher Blake" in the title roll.

In the emerging technology known as television we could see now named "Richard" Tyler in shows such as 1950-51's "The Aldrich Family" playing the title role of Henry Aldrich.
We also were treated in 1964 to Dick's performances as "Private Hemsley" for four episodes of "Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.".... Shazam!
Dick graced the silver screen as "Eddie" in the previously mentioned "Bells of St. Mary's", Lt.William Pincus in the 1950 film "Wake Me When It's Over" and even came out of acting retirement in 1978 to do a small part as a doctor in friend and patient Burt Reynold's "Hooper". What a stretch!
Did I mention he's been a doctor of chiropractic medicine for the past 38 years?

The Highland games? In 1976 he wrestled "Cumberland Style" in the Obin, Scotland Highland Games. The laddie Tyler struck quite an impressive figure in a kilt!

Dick always did have nice legs.

 

And the Norman Rockwell connection?

For 52 years Rockwell painted a yearly Boy Scout calendar. In 1951 Rockwell went west to commemorate and include the young men from that part of the country into one of the American Icon's masterpieces. You guessed it, Dick posed for two figures in the 1951 "Forward America". He was the model portraying both the sailor scout and the scout leader.

Dick also was an eagle scout in reality by the way.

Not only did the legendary illustrator immortalize him on canvas, Dick was also captured on paper by iconic cartoonist Al Hirschfeld in the New York Times ...November 26,1946 to be precise.

For eight years Dick Tyler was the west coast editor of Weider Publications. He painted a world that not only inspired us to lift weights but made it so magical . We all dreamed of moving to California, training with the champs, hanging out with Dick and Artie Zeller, then perhaps even catch a game of pool with Sergio over at Don Peter's place! Through Dick's eyes we were able to live the same life in our own imagination, it seemed that real.
Pictures not painted with a brush, but rather with master keystrokes composed on an eighty year old typewriter. Dick's words inspired young men the world over.

Men like.... Rick Wayne
 
 
"Tyler was a source of inspiration when I lived in England. I never missed hiscolumns. I well remember our very first meeting. In fact, I do believe there exists a picture of our initial encounter. I had come to New York to compete in my first big event and backstage at the Brooklyn Academy, Joe Weider introduced us. Joe and I were by then old buddies-thanks to his several visits to the UK. After Dick and I had pressed the flesh, Joe said, "Show him your arm, Rick." I did and I remember to this day the words that fell out of Dick's mouth.
"All I'm prepared to say right now is, tonight heads will roll." Evidently he'd been impressed by my then over 19-inch biceps. In due course I came over from Britain to work with Muscle Builder in New Jersey, which of course presented the perfect opportunity to get to know the great man better. We spoke often on the phone; about writing; about story ideas; about the latest stars; about contest results. He was there on my first visit to California. He even threw a party in my honor. Alas, the good things never seem to last long enough. Time moved on and we lost touch. He has never been out of mind, however."
 
Frank Zane

"Teaching school in Pennsylvania and New Jersey 1964-1966, I read Dick Tyler’s articles in Muscle Builder every month. While my body was freezing in the Northeast, my heart was basking in California’s warm sunshine. Dick Tyler wrote most of Joe Weider’s magazines in those days. I got to know him well. In addition to being an excellent journalist and bodybuilding enthusiast, he was a chiropractor (he helped me heal a lower back injury from heavy squatting 5 weeks before the 1972 Mr. Universe), scoutmaster, and devoted family man. Since I was a former eagle scout, Dick
often asked me to address hisscout troop, which was always preceded by dinner at his house in San Fernando Valley."
 

There are some things when discussing the past that some people just will try to ignore as if that part of their lives never happened. Dick's LA gang involvement was certainly one of those topics that he didn't even bring up.

I had heard stories.

I knew if I were to dig I could uncover this never before talked about chapter of Dick Tyler's life. So this covert operative made a clandestine phone call to.... let's just call him "Larry Scott"....and the informant relayed this shocking information!

"We belonged to a group called the "GNOMES " . Myself, Ron Haddad, Dick Tyler, Don Houston ...there were about 7 of us and every Saturday we would go the beach and afterward go to some movie and then over to Carnations Ice Cream Restaurant on Wilshire Blvd. It was a regular hangout of ours. It was a good time of life. Dick was quite successful at the time. He was still performing in television and movies, I was a bicycle repairman. I had moved out from Idaho to California and found the first job I could get.
 

So I was eating my heart out with him in the movies and I was repairing bikes. Dick and Don were the kind of the leaders of the group, with Dick certainly being the creative one. We were in the Carnation one time, I'll give you an example of Dick's sense of humor. We're in the restaurant all with our ice cream."

I know... the terrifying image of a bodybuilding gang named the "Gnomes" and eating ice cream cones struck fear in my heart also!

"Dick was doing something, I forgot what but got me so tickled that I couldn't hold anything in and I laughed so hard that I kinda of went "pooft" and sent a bubble of ice cream across the table and hit Dick on the face. He gabbed his napkin, folded it in half, tore out a little circle in the middle for his mouth, wetted two ends and stuck it on his forehead and started to eat his ice cream through the hole in the napkin. I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe!"

When the news was released that a compilation of Dick's stories and gossip columns from the old Muscle Builder and Mr. America magazines was going to be printed in a book called the "West Coast Bodybuilding Scene", I knew the world was in for a treat. For those of us that grew up mezmorized by those printed pages it was like going back home again. More importantly though a whole new generation of bodybulding fans could partake in the feast that we once gloriously devoured and hopefully can gain a new appreciation of the Golden Era of Bodybuilding.

"Dave and Laree Draper opened up a trunk and brought out some old love letters. And that's what they were my love letters to bodybuilding.I was writing about my friends. Somebody said it was like a diary and that's exactly what it was. When you read a biography about Arnold now it's about what happened in the past.What I wrote about then was what was happening at that time before people became that well known, and they were friends and there was a camradarie. And they trusted me because I was their friend. I was more than a reporter I was one of them, I used to train with them, eat with them, we'd go to the beach together and we shared our lives. It was fun and that's what made a difference."

On a more personal level the publishing of the book has served an even higher purpose, one that you cannot put a price tag on . It has reunited old friends! Dave Draper and Dick Tyler had not seen each other in 30 years!
When asked about his feelings on the moment of seeing his treasured friend after so long Dick replied in eloquent simplicity, "I wept".

The Blonde Bomber was gracious and forthcoming in adding his own words, straight from the heart.

"Bodybuilding was young; there were fewer participants, just enough champions, no stars, and training was real, simple, shared and enjoyed. We appreciated and admired each other and welcomed each other into each other's lives. No, life wasn't a sandy summer breeze and there were struggles as always and not everyone was a candidate for sainthood. But the sport was fresh, emerging and yet to rudely imitate itself or be terribly
roughed up by the money man. This was when Dick Tyler and I became friends, teaming up as the first two-man crew of Weider Barbell's budding west coast offices in Santa

Monica, California. It was the spring of 1964. Now it's the fall of 2006: we've seen moon landings, eight presidents, many wars and promises of peace, explosive technology and a history book about the golden era of bodybuilding, West Coast Bodybuilding Scene. After 30 years of wandering, WCBS brought Dick and I back together like time returned; both slightly older and slightly closer as a result.

Though neither of us will say it out loud, those were the good old days."

To sit down and talk with Dick Tyler is an absolute joy, rather, it is an honor. There is an excitement in his voice when he talks about the iron game. You just know there is a twinkle in his eye as he speaks, cheeks of rosy red, and a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly when he laughs...wait wrong guy.
But then again Dick "is" bodybuilding's Santa Claus! He bestowed upon us presents that we can treasure for a lifetime, the gift of his words! Time nor age has tempered his enthusiasm.

Today Dick stays busy with his small chiropractic practice. Not concerned with the number of patients that he sees per day but rather the quality of care he gives to the ones he does. Some men choose a profession, some professions choose men. Dick Tyler is a gifted healer.

Dick is a also a member of the California State Chiropractic Board, appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger. A position earned because of his multifaceted qualifications, professionalism and close to 40 years of experience. Arnold chose wisely and he should know, he was Dr. Tylers first patient!


Whether entertaining on a stage, his medical practice, or stories of the days of iron men and wooden ships, he brings the most healing power of all... a smile across the face of all who hear his tales or read his words!

 

Jeff Preston