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FOURTH SET: THE 1949 MR. USA

AND PHYSIQUE PRESENTATION

 

One of the most amazing things about Dick Tyler is that he seems to have been front row center for some of bodybuildings most epic events not to mention being behind the scenes for most of them . In 1949 Dick sat in the audience to watch John Grimek win the Mr. USA title. Gather around gang, let's let Dick tell us all about it.

"The only other contest that ever came close in my mind was the 1949 Mr. USA. It was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angles. The Mr. USA was a major, major event. The Shrine Auditorium hold's about 6000 people it's an enormous place. They had this contest in which there were going to be all the great bodybuilders of that time. And they did! There was Steve Reeves, Alan Stephan, George Eiferman, Clarence Ross, oh there must have been 30 or 40, all of them, , all that were well known at the time. Former Mr. Americas they were all there. But no one had ever seen Grimek. You had seen pictures of him in Strength and Health and Hoffman's Glowing things that called him the Glow, JCG, the Babe Ruth of Bodybuilding. He was sort of mythical by that time anyway but nobody on the west coast had really ever seen him. Oh he used to go down to Muscle Beach but the audiences and the young fans had never really seen him. You'd look at some pictures of him in the magazines and say yea he looks pretty good yea that's fine. So just when the contest begins the announcer said we have some special news for you, we want you to know competing in tonight's contest is going to be the great, the immortal, John C. Grimek! Well the audience went WILD! Only when they announced it did they know he was going to be there. Now they were going to see this guy they had heard so much about. He drew #2 the second one to be on the stage which was terrible because after him came Ross and Reeves and all the ones that were big at the time, So you figure out you want to be near the end so you could leave the biggest impression with the judges. Now the stage had a long runway to a platform like a giant sunflower if you will a long stem that they would have to walk down to this thing that flared out and that's where they had to pose. Well Grimek comes down, the second one out, and I'll tell you this he has no pecs. He had no abs and he didn't have a back. You look at this and think what's so great about this guy. Well he walks out there on that podium and he stood there and his presence was exactly like that of Scott in the Mr. Olympia. His stage presence was almost magical. He gave this look out to the audience. Now what he did was really interesting, he didn't have an eight pack he didn't have a six pack in fact he had a one pack. But he knew how to manipulate it he did vacuums and isolations...he did a vacuum of his stomach area that I swear to God hit his spine! He looked like he had no abdominal content. The audience went wild! He then did some chest , and while he didn't have big massive pecs he had a rib cage that was out of this world! He would start out very small and slow and inch it out, inch it out, until you thought my God it can't go out any further. And then he'd he inch it out a little bit more, you thought his chest was going to explode! He then turns around and does a back shot. He doesn't have a big lat spread so what does he do? He then isolates his scapula, his shoulder blades and he starts rolling them around, one going one wayand the other he opposite way ...I don't know how he did it.

Now he had great legs! So he was able to show his calf muscle. It looked like his gastrocnemius had been pasted on, it jutted out so that it didn't even look real, like somebody had taken it and strapped it onto his calf! His thighs, he had great separation, not by today's standards of course. He had incredible forearms. When he did a trapezious isolation he did it slowly so it looked like his traps were going to go above his ears! Then Grimek started doing his biceps, and what he did is that he started to move his arms in slowly, ever so slowly. So it looked like, and in retrospect and you can see what he was doing, his arms were growing by moving his arms in together as if his biceps were going to meet in the middle. Wonderful, he was a master poser! He accentuated those great body parts that he had those that he did have and on those that he did not he did muscular separation that made you forget that they were weaker body parts! I've never seen such a chest expansion! I've never seen anybody do anything with their back like that! I've never seen an abdominal vacuum like that...how does he do that? Now afterwards all the other people had to follow Grimek! Steve Reeves was at the height of popularity at the time, and when he hit his overhead shots the people were still yelling "Grimek...Grimek....G-R-I-M-E-K". Even while Ross and all the others were doing their routines the audience still yelling, "Grimek...Grimek....Grimek"! I told Joe that because had called Clancy Ross the "King of Bodybuilders". He always wanted to have a showdown contest between Ross, who was his champion, going up against Hoffman's champion which was Grimek. I told him, Joe, Joe I was there at the contest! "What ahh aaa that's not, ah ah was not a..." He still refused to think in his mind that Grimek was that good. I said Joe, Joe they were yelling for Grimek when Ross was up there posing Everybody that posed, all the great bodybuilders of that time, still "Grimek" all over the auditorium. So they had to bring him out to pose some more, it was incredible! Unbelievable!!!"

In discussing the 1949 Mr. USA the topic of physique presentation in general arose and you bet Dick had further exposition.

"This is the amazing thing Larry Scott doesn't have the most sparkingpersonality, he's just a quiet individual in person when you're talking withhim. But when he got upon the stage... he presented a persona that he didn't have when you were talking to him, he suddenly became somebody else. He became the imperial grand lama, the Caesar of bodybuilders giving blessings! He had a mystique when he got up on stage. He had an aura where he would not have had a sense of confidence in other things but when he got up there on the stage he did! He projected it.

Everybody had a different shape, a different size and a different personality that went with that. Eiferman didn't look like anybody else and he had this wonderful quiet personality, he was just the nicest guy in the world, he was sweetheart. He had a completely different shape than someone like Alan Stephan who was famous for his smile. Even if he was giving a back shot you could tell from the back of his head that he was smiling! I think the hair was smiling! They all had these different personalities which was great! You had somebody whom to pull for. You could say he looks great he's got the greatest lats I've ever seen, the greatest whatever it was. They had posing routines that were not what they were today, today they lumber out, hit a shot and wait for the audiences reaction, smile then "umph" hit another shot. Before it was an absolutely beautiful routine, it was poetic if it was done correctly. Of course people like Vince Gironda they made it an art form. And he was very very proud of the fact that he could really milk it out. As I've said when we really started doing the music that was better than "Are the Stars Out Tonight" type of stuff, God I hated that..Ohhh. It was jarring! Here you have these big massive guys out there, it wasn't a beauty contest, and they're playing a snare drum and a saxophone. Just imagine how horrible it was for a guy standing there flexing his muscles to "I've Got Spurs that Jingle, Jangle, Jingle". Then we got heroic music, not what they play today, I mean really great music. It just worked, it worked. The guys would go back to Ronny Haddad who after a while had made up a great collection. I've got this for this and that for that and they'd start picking one out they liked. I like the Beethoven one or whatever it might be and the guys would study it, listen to it and develop their routines to the music as they were listening to it, now there is no connection. It's as much show business as anything you can possibly get, it's what you project to the audience. If you have that certain measure of confidence, you have to have the muscles behind it, but all things being equal if you have that magical stage presence you will capture an audience's heart. For whatever reason Dave had it, Arnold had it, Gironda had it, some people just have that magic. When they went out there they weren't even aware of it! It's a gift. It's something you're born with, it blooms, it just explodes!"

"Thought I'd ad a little to the Grimek win at the '49 USA in Los Angeles. The following year I went back to New York to do a live (they had little else in 1950) TV show called "The Aldrich Family". I played Henry Aldrich. I'm admitting to this because the few that might remember the show are probably in nursing homes watching paint dry. So I'm safe. "Live" in those days meant just that. No film, no tape - what you saw was what you got. I trained with weights at the New York Athletic Club and worked out with the wrestlers. All this caused a panic to the producers of the show who felt that any human with pipes larger than 9" was a freak. To make things worse I was beginning to get a bum ear from the wrestling workouts. The result was the production staff and wardrobe folks doing handsprings to conceal me in such a way that I appeared "normal".

Being the iron nut I was (and still am) I convinced some of the cast to go with me to see a muscle contest being held at of all places, Carnegie Hall. Grimek was to be the guest poser and I could hardly wait. Unfortunately he had retired the year before and I'm afraid it showed. My biggest thrill however came when Bob Hoffman informed the audience the the cast from the show was there. Bodybuilding meant more to me than show business even if it happened to be the only way I then put food on the table.

Later that same year I learned that a contest was being held at a place called the Roosevelt Auditorium - and Clarence Ross was to be the featured poser. Well - the Roosevelt Auditorium was no Carnegie Hall. It looked more like a large basketball court with folding chairs for the public. Who cared? All that mattered was the muscles anyway. The lights dimmed and Ross came on stage. He was great - a master poser with a command of the stage few could emulate. He did an isolation of his pecs in which he rolled what looked like a steel cable up to his clavicles. Funny what you remember after almost 60 years. But the most memorable moment for me came with a young bodybuilder named Marvin Eder. At one point he leaned forward and flexed his biceps. A bulb of muscle exploded on his arm. Then he did the impossible. He seemed to flex one head at a time. I've never seen anything before nor since like it. Oh I've seen great split biceps before but never one flexing while the other slept.

Enough rambling for now."