Set 1

Set 2

Set 3

Set 4

 

SECOND SET: EARLY WEIDER YEARS, INFLUENCED BY A MAN HOLDING A PENCIL, A NARROW ESCAPE FROM AN DISGRUNTLED ARMWRESTLER AND VINCE GIRONDA

 

 Let it be said you do not interview Dick Tyler, you uncork his head and let the stories flow like vintage wine. Full, rich, robust...and timeless. The only problem is getting the cork back in! Tyler's tales have no end!

The first thing I was curious about was how does a man who started out as a child actor turn into the wizard of words we knew from Muscle builder and Mr.
America magazines.

"I started when I was 7 years old and I was really a working actor, it wasn't a wanna be the thing.This was the way I supported myself and my family because my father had left us and it was just my mother, my sister and myself. It was during the depression in 1940 and nobody had jobs. If you wanted to eat you had to do something. Hardly any men had very many jobs much less women and since there wasn't a father around somebody had to do something and I just happened to get lucky and got the first thing I tried out for. I eventually starred on Broadway and was chosen the best young actor of the New York critics. I then went on to radio, movies and television. So for twenty six years that's what I did."

Asking Dick what name he appeared under.."Oh yea... Clark Gable!"

He said he could always tell what era producers or directors knew him from when he would go out on auditions. "Dickie" as a child actor, Richard on Broadway and Dick later on in television and movies.

"When I finally got to the point when I got married for the first time and had a family I couldn't just set around like other actors. You'd work for awhile then you'd go through periods where you didn't for several months. I thought I've got to have a regular income. So I started a hobby shop as a sideline which went belly up. At that point I knew I couldn't wait for my agent to call so that's when I started working for the gyms. I worked for Bert Goodrich's gym (pictured)

"I managed Walt Marcyan's Gym and I was doing what I loved! I developed programs for guys and wrote for Walt's magazine (Physical Power), he had a magazine there for awhile. Eventually I started to work for Weider and I thought well I know how to write but here I was sitting there supposedly selling vitamins that he wanted me to go out and sell. I thought that was hell, driving around all over the place, eating up gas. Joe was rather penurious, not the most generous person with salaries, so I thought I'd make myself useful to him in some way and I'll do it by writing. So I submitted a gossip column. "This gossip column, ah a can you do it again?" asked the Master Blaster. I did it again and it segued into doing nothing but writing. And setting in a spot in Weider's West Coast office in Santa Monica that was a breeding place for getting all this information. It became so much so that is all Joe wanted me to do, which was fine with me! So I was having a ball."

"I wrote under every name that you could image! At one time I picked up the magazine, because you want to see what they're going to do with it, I think Joe printed just about everything I wrote. I had to write two articles a week and that was a minimum, over 52 weeks a year that was 104 articles every year. So during that time, I started in 65 and ended in 72 I think it was.

You know this is the funniest thing when Dave Draper called and said, "You know I'd like to do a book about you with some of the things you wrote."

I said "Gee that would be nice but I don't have anything".

"Well we got everything from other people we don't need any help from you" I said "Gee... well um...that's nice."
Then I started reading the old articles, I had forgotten so many things. My wife Penny said "Oh you can't tell people that they'll think you're crazy or your losing your mind" I said no, most of that time I was going through Chiropractic college and I used the writing to pay enough to buy books and put food on the table. It was like two different life's on the weekends and occasional week night that was bodybuilding the rest of the time had to be study, study, study. It was such a dichotomy that you just sort of divorced yourself from one life to the other. As then I was reading the book and I said, did I write...and then I thought oh yeah I remember that, I remember that! Wait did I go down to the beach on crutches? And wait there's a picture of me walking down the beach on crutches! So it all started coming back and it was really one of the most joyous things! I cannot thank my dear friends Dave and Laree enough because it reawakened me, it was just like they slapped me in the face and said wake up, wake up, wake up!

And I was printed under all different names. So I pick up the magazine to see what they do, what pictures they've used with it. Then I realized.. wait a minute, this is... that looks familar....Oh I wrote that! So I found out in one magazine I had written everything but maybe one or two articles. They had me under all these different names. I realized very quickly that it would obviously look stupid to have Dick Tyler, Dick Tyler, Dick Tyler throughout the magazine. Joe would ask me (in Dick's dead on Joe Weider impersonation) "Ah Dick I ah want you to go down and a..ah..ah. do an article on Chet (Yorton). "So I'd go down to the gym and I'd say Chet, Joe wants me to do an article on an arm routine so can you give me your arm routine? So if it was Chet or whomever I would be doing the bit on they would take out a little piece of paper and write 3 sets of this or 4 sets of that. And out of that I'd look at the piece of paper and think how the hell am I going to get a story? I'd say do you have anything in the background? "Noooo" OK...So then I'd go home and set down and think well it was supposed to be him writing, sometimes I knew exactly who it was supposed to be.. so I'll put him down at the beach and some guy kicks sand in his face or something. I'd make up these little stories about these things and weave the exercise routine through the story. Sometimes it was a challenge especially when you are studying and have to divorce yourself from something that you were going to do. If I wrote it and it's under my name, anything under my name is no lie, everything that happened really happened."

         

We all have a defining moment in our lives that bodybuilding grabs us by the seat of out pants and doesn't let go. Whether it be a movie, the first time you see a walking talking bodybuilder or a picture in a magazine. Dick is no different from the rest of us. His world opened up when he saw a picture of...

"Eric Pederson! he had a picture inside the magazine (Muscle Power or Your Physique) of him flexing his biceps and one thing, it was the weirdest thing in the world, one finger was sticking straight out and he had a pencil balanced on the end of the finger. Obviously you're not going to forget a crazy picture like that. Well I'd never seen anything like that. I thought "my god" that's the greatest thing in the world! I was an actor at the time and the last thing you wanted to do was get too big. So I had to just try and hold it back but I just couldn't. I just loved bodybuilding I loved "strength"! That was the most important thing in the world to me. Outside of a man making love to a woman the most romantic thing he does is with strength and the thing that demonstrates that power."
 
   
One of the most basic of events to test a man's strength, speed and skill is arm wrestling. We've all been challenged at one point or another and there is something primitively visceral about the sport you have to admit. Needless to
say Dick loved the manly game.

Left to right: Lloyd Lampton, Joe eider, Mac Bachelor and Bert Elliot

"One contest... I was in charge and because I loved arm wrestling I talked Joe into letting me have the International Federation of Arm Wrestling the IFAW. Joe hemmed and hawed "Ah... I don't...."
Joe please come on this will be fun because they have nothing but the bodybuilding and beauty contests and everything like that. This will be a great little thing to throw in. Give me 10 minutes out of the show. I had already worked up and gotten the most beautiful belt made for a contest that I produced out in Southern California for Joe. It was hand carved with two arms arm wrestling above that the IFAW, and under "World Champion" and then it was red white and blue ribbon that went from the shield in front and went around and fastened on the back and on the side with plates and little chains going to each plate and the name of the champions would be on the belt. Oh it was good, that was one thing I was proud of. Mac Batchelor loved it, I had Mac wear it and he was so proud. I told Mac I want to give you this belt but we're going to give it to somebody else but I'd like to have you in a picture and he loved that, he just loved that belt. We had to eliminate the arm wrestlers in the afternoon, it was at one of the big Brooklyn Academy shows in 66 or 67 I think it was. We were going to have to give a trophy because I had given the belt I think to Lloyd Lampton or somebody so I had lost the belt. So we did this big contest and did the elimination's in the afternoon. Now arm wrestlers are a crazy bunch of guys with "Hey I wasn't ready... my hand wasn't there".
The guys were getting pretty testy by the afternoon. We eliminated it down. The way I looked at it we were going to have 4 guys, in other words we might have had 20 guys trying out for it but we were going to eliminate it down to four people. One of the guys even had a pistol because his wife was going to be in the beauty contest and he didn't want anybody making a pass at her! They came back there ARMED! It was a wild time backstage. It was the Brooklyn Academy of Music, this enormous stage that had operas and big productions. So I put all these arm wrestlers in a room and said you have to stay there, you can't come out now. You can look out but you can't start wondering around. You don't have to come backstage if you don't want to but if you do you have to stay in this room. Here were these animals back there somewhat angry because who wants to be sequestered in a room? Like some kind of an animal that's' allowed to g-a-z-e out to the other people. SO this guy from Ohio comes out of the room and says
"I've got to get out there, I've got to get out on the stage".

I said what do you mean?

"I've got to go on the stage...my family...I came from Ohio, here we are in
New York and my friend and I...I've got to get out there!"

Well your friend is! They had special arm wrestling shirts made up like it was a club or something.

"I've got to get on the stage!!!"

The show was going on at the time the audience was screaming and yelling, it
was a madhouse.

I said Well you can't!

He said "Well yea I HAVE too!"

Well you can't!

"Yes I can!!!"

NO! you can't!
Look over your shoulder in back of you there you see all those guys? If I let you out there on that stage they'll walk all over me..they'll kill me! I've told them they can't do it so I can't let you go out there and not let the rest! I'm sorry, but your friend is out there and there are only four guys, that's it.

"I've got to get out there I don't care what you say! My wife and kids are out there cheering for me!"

I thought my God I don't need this, why did I let him back here in the first place? I told him I'm sorry but there is no way you are going to get out there on
that stage! We're at a face off now so he slowly reaches into his pocket... I can see out of the corner of my eye and i think Oooooo Boy... I have a family, I've got a wife and kids I wish I was back in North Hollywood right now...I didn't know what on God's green earth he was going to pull out of his pocket! His hands slowly comes out of his pocket. Our eyes are fixed on one another. I'm not glancing down at anything and he isn't either we're just nose to nose face to face. "I'm going on! " No you can't ! So he slowly brings it out and puts his hand between us. No I glance down at his other hand and see he had pulled out a dime. I think what on earth? He going to try and bribe with with a dime? Now he open's his mouth, clamps his teeth down on the dime, takes his fingers and bends it in half! I'm standing there mumbling abba...ahh...uhhhhh....daaaaa.
My knees are weak and I think My God! I told him that's incredible!

He said "Yea"

I said can you do it again?

"Yea"

So he bends another one!

I've got to keep these I said to myself, still have them by the way. But I said you're still not going on! He just shrugged his shoulders and said "OK" and walked away.

I look back on that now and am rather proud I'm still here!"

I believe it's safe to say our little oddball world of bodybuilding is full of characters. "The Iron Guru", Vince Gironda, certainly is in contention for top spot. A man ahead of his time, both loved and hated, but across the board respected for what he brought to the sport. Needless to say Dick had some insight to share.

 

"Stories about Vince and the "Black Pit"! His gym was dark and had skylights. These skylights were very dramatic you could stand under there and at certain time of the day and it was better than any posing light you could ever imagine. The rest of it was painted black. He was the hardest person to get to know. Fortunately for whatever reason,Vince and I never had a problem, never hung up on me, never called me a S.O.B., never had any problems like that we always seemed to get along. I just always knew when to withdraw!

Somebody had called Vince once, Gene Mozee was telling me this, and they said a word or something that Vince didn't agree with and he just hung up on them, right in the middle of the sentence "Boom" just hung up! The guy would call back "hey we've been cut off" and he'd hang up again! So the guy would call back again "wait, wait we keep getting cut off". No I'm hanging up on you you ass hole! If you don't agree with what I say I don't have time for you. People would drive by, people who couldn't stand him, and slow down the car in front of the gym and yell "You dumb S.O.B., you damned..." every lousy word and then drive by. Oh he loved it, he just loved it!
Once somebody gave him a trophy of a pair of balls and an erect penis! I never saw it but I remember somebody telling me.

Vince was very thinned skin to say the least, he didn't like really big guys he thought they were just bags of crap as far as he was concerned. It was the posing and the artistry in the beauty of the physique rather than that. So he was never big but he was a master poser. He was just marvelous!
You'd look at him and think he should win some big contests but the big titles always went to somebody with 20 inch arms. He just never liked that and since he didn't like it he never catered to it.
Actually Vince his wife Bobbie and son Guy all became patients of mine when I went into practice and we got along just beautifully."