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Author Topic: Muscle Beach History - by Stuntmovie  (Read 85195 times)
stuntmovie
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« on: June 02, 2013, 11:09:32 AM »

This will be how I remember that 2 mile stretch of beach that started at the Santa Monica Pier (Original Muscle Beach area) and ran south to what I think was the Venice Beach Pier and is presently simply Venice Beach which houses the PIT we now know as the present Muscle Beach.

Will include pictures that I have taken over the years as well as some taken off the internet.


Also, this is the History Board on Getbig for other threads...

http://www.getbig.com/boards/index.php?board=20.0
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jwb
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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2013, 11:16:36 AM »

How strong was Marvin really?
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« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2013, 11:18:16 AM »

This is information, given your history, which will be very welcomed by me. Thank you.
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« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2013, 11:19:51 AM »

Gonna be a great thread.

THE BEEF
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« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2013, 11:29:10 AM »

Let'er rip, Stunt. Would really like to see the early(iest) pics you've got. 
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« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2013, 11:36:34 AM »

This will be a great thread. Stuntmovie has a wealth of information regarding the golden age of bodybuilding.

Looking forward to the pictures and write-ups!

"1"
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« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2013, 12:19:05 PM »

Thanks to you GetBiggers who have already responded, but I gotta admit that I wasn't in to taking photos way back then .... mainly because I really couldn't afford a camera nor pay for the Kodak processing fee.

But I'll be naming lots of names of individuals you may have never heard of who were the true 'foundation' of this present bodybuilding-world and will do my best to grab some photos off the net to liven up this ancient day expose, even though I won't have much to say that is derogatory.

Just the facts as I personally witnessed them with my own two eye-balls.

JOE, I am glad you will be reading this because I am a complete shit-head when it comes to dates, so please feel free to correct me when I screw up. I am not the type of person who is easily offended .... unless you come at me with a baseball bat.

Believe me.... I've faced worse than any piece of sporting equipment.

WARNING for short attention span GetBiggers ...... I write very long paragraphs, but each word is easily understood.

JWB.. To the best of my knowledge .... I never met Marvin Elder.

Sorry

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« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2013, 12:19:32 PM »

  Stunt is a legend and a great poster   I salute him
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« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2013, 12:33:37 PM »

Semper Fi, Arce!

To continue ...... First Trip to LA and First Muscle Beach Visit and the Biggest Bodybuilder I Ever Met! So Far. But that was only the beginning,

Once upon a time – a long time ago – I lived in Northern California in the City by the Bay called San Fancisco.

There was another kid, but older than myself, who lived across the Bay who never had a cold nor a cavity. His name was Steve Reeves.

As a kid I climbed  trees  and since we lived within walking distance to the Golden Gate Park, I had an unlimited number of trees to assult.

We had a summer cabin 72 miles north of the city in an area that was inundated  by some of the world’s tallest Redwood trees , but I was too damn short to reach the lowest branch and by the time I was tall enough and strong enough to make a successful attempt, one of the local, full blooded, America Indians of the region told me that only the eagles went up that high and young kids never should for that would be disrespectful

So I was polite and never did climb a Redwood tree!

But a lot of those trees in Golden Gate Park got to know me well.

Climbing trees on a daily basis creates a lot of strength and functional muscle and allowed me to be the strongest kid in class throughout my grammar school years.

Oh yea! ….. I also ran the San Francisco beach from the zoo to the Clif House at least three times a week and have been told that I have ‘occupied’ that beach more than any other living San Francisco city dweller.

Then high school came along and Steve Reeves, who lived across the Bay, advised me, “Get big, kid!” …. so I joined a neighborhood gym and learned how to lift heavy things by gym members who were bigger and stronger than myself but five to ten years older.

Yada, yada, yada …. Short version … I was a strong kid throughout my grammar and high school years as a result of climbing trees and lifting heavy things.

Then some family members got into the Hollywood film production business and invited me to visit LA-LA Land anytime I wanted.

So one day I stolde my dad’s car and drove south only to discover that it was much further from the Bay Area than I had anticipated.

Van Nuys was mainly ranches back then and places where horses were trained for the movies. But it was way too far from any beach and there were no climbing trees in sight.

And the only ‘gym’ was Muscle Beach in Santa Monica.

“Wow! A beach for running and a gym for lifting  …. All in one location! That’s ideal!”

So I drove over the hill to the small beach town of Santa Monica (very small back then), and parked  my car up the hill from the pier and walked down to find myself directly in front of  a small fenced in area that contained rusty dumbbells and rusty barbells and one big muscle-bound-dude who introduced himself as DOUG STROHL who invited me to join in a workout since there was no one else around to spot him.

I said, “Thanks, but I have to run this beach first!”

So I ran to the water’s edge, turned south and began my three mile run into the unknown  toward what I was to discover as the Venice Beach area which was entirely different back then than it is today. (Anyone recall Lawrence Welk?)

And that’s where this story begins.

Actually it’s where my future life began.



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stuntmovie
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« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2013, 12:46:18 PM »

Doug Strohl....


* images-1.jpg (8.56 KB, 187x269 - viewed 7073 times.)

* images.jpg (8.56 KB, 201x251 - viewed 7064 times.)
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« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2013, 01:16:22 PM »

So the weights were where the rings and stuff are now?
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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2013, 01:32:37 PM »

  Semper Fidelis
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stuntmovie
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« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2013, 02:08:27 PM »

JWB.... TO THE BEST of my recollection the weight "pit" was a bit closer to the pier and maybe close to the west of the present lifeguard headquaters.



WARNING – NOT TOO MUCH BODYBUILDING INFO IN THIS PART.

So it’s early and I’m jogging along the water’s edge heading in a southerly direction with no idea of what I’ll be seeing along the way. Nor any idea of what I’m running towards.

I’ve seen the ocean way too many times to be too interested so as I’m running I’m concentrating on the buildings, homes and churches  that are built along the beachfront  but it’s early and still overcast and there’s no one on the beach except a heard of seagulls facing into the breeze.

Half way go my unknown destination I run under a wooden pier that has what appears to be an  old wooden roller coaster way out beyond the breakes.

Years later that same old pier would become Pacific Ocean Park – someone’s attempt to compete against the must more ambitious park that was recently opened further south in an old orange grove and strawberry field and occupied by a bunch of mice and called Disneyland.

And years later that POP would close down for reasons I have long forgottem.

But it wasn’t too very long ago that that well worn pier would be destroyed by a huge storm that tore it all apart. (Or was it a fire, JOE??)

And once it was destroyed PETER and DAVID (or just one of them) would gather up the pieces and use them to construct his home in the hills above the Pacific just south of Malibu. (I never did see that home but Keith told me this story several times and he knew the brothers very well.)

Peter and David need no introduction to you knowledgeable GetBiggers so I’ll let you fill in the blanks but I’ll be crossing paths with one or both of them a few years later. (Always a funny and enjoyable experience.)

Hate to admit this but I never did see any of their movies.

So that old pier is part of a home right now.

So once pass the pier with the wooden roller coaster there was nothing except old homes and churches along the beachfront and only on my return route would I discover that those old churches were actually old synagogs and every beachfront bench was occupied by old Jewish grandmas and grandpas who recently arrived from various parts of Europe after WWII and they all seemed to speak a very strange language.

So I finally reached my run’s end at Venice Beach and at that time I sort of recall it being nothing b ut a vacant beach with lots of old Jewish folks sitting on beachfront benches waiting for the sun to shine.

There used to be huge pier there but it was long gone.

NEXT UP ... The ten cent ride back to Muscle Beach...







 




 
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« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2013, 02:25:45 PM »

JWB, I should add this.

I have no idea who started calling Muscle Beach "Muscle Beach". A more appropriate name would have been Circus Beach as the muscle part of it was somewhat  secondary to the gymnasts and circus performers who practiced there by the 100's each and every weekend.

The actual weight lifting area was actually about 30 X 50 feet and surrounded by a 3 foot wooden 'fence' with a wooden container on one end in which the gear was stored when no one was using it. (All figures are estimates only.)




 




 


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« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2013, 03:01:15 PM »

good thread, i  can't wait for the next installment.
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« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2013, 03:08:17 PM »

THE TEN CENT RIDE TO MUSCLE BEACH and WAS THIS JOE’S FIRST?

As I said earlier, there wasn’t too much to see back then in the Venice Beach area. The huge Venice Beach Pier was no longer there and no one seemed to speak English (I talk to everyone if I can understand them but Yiddish was way beyond my comprehension).

And the sun was starting to  make an appearence through the clouds so I decided to take the easy way back to Muscle Beach.

The ‘easy way back’ was an electric ‘trolly’ that ran every half hour or so between Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier right along the beach-front road. And it only cost a dime (which was a lot of money back then).

But I could afford it so I hopped aboard with a couple of dozen Jewish folks heading home from a nearby market and a couple of ducks that would be somene’s dinner that evening. Oh yea! … even a few Rabbis hopped on board.

Electric trollys go very slow and stop very often whenever someone yells something that means, “Let me off here, you putz!”.  So by the time we reached Muscle Beach I was the only one left without a duck or a bag full of groceries or a yamaka. And the driver said, “Your stop,buddy!”

The first English words I’d heard since leaving Muscle Beach an hour or so earlier.

So by the time I reached the weight enclosure, the sun was out and  the place was way too crowded and I was way too little. So I left with the hope of finding a gym that hard four walls and a ceiling and close nearby

So I took a stroll and managed to see a building about two hundred yards south of the weight ‘pit” that looked like it could possibly have a weight room inside of it.

That building still exists today and is known as the Sea Castle …. A very expensive residence for people who have money and like to live in a beachfront building. It once had a life as a drug recuperaton home and b efore that it appeared to be some type of private beach club.

I walked around it and sure enough I noticed a small door on the east side of the building which was the front of that building back then. I opened that door and sure enough it was a gym with some sturdy looking equipment but no one was inside.

Actually it could have been a storage room for this sturdy looking gym equipment. There was no such thing as sturdy gym equipment as far as I can recall back then, so this gear caught my interest.

So I did a real fast workout thinking I’d be found and tossed out but no one came in to do any tossing.

The tossing would occur hours late at the 20th Century Fox front gate

I can’t find anyone today who can verify this but I think that this happened to be the fvery first gym that was under the control of Joe Gold himself and I never did ask him personally before he passed away.. But the equipment appeared to be the same as Joe made himself many years later.

You gotta remember that there were no gym chains such as Gold’s or World’s back then. Those were to come about a few  years later.
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stuntmovie
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« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2013, 03:13:16 PM »

FUNK! THANKS! I wish I could make it more exciting but I am determined to only write about the things that I have personally seen without resorting to the 'who-did-what-to whom" stuff that is seldom or never seen by anyone but often spoken about.
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« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2013, 03:24:47 PM »

Short note here. Not bodybuilding related.

That afternoon I left Muscle Beach/Santa Monica by way of Pico Blvd.

2oth Century Fox Studios is located on Pico roughly 5 miles from the beach and since I always have been a big movie fan and since some of my family was in the movie business I thought I'd think of  some way to sneak onto the lot by the time I got to the front gate.

The only plan I came up with during that  12 minute ride was ..... to drive up to the Gate and announce my presence as a big 20th Century Fox movie making fan whose family was also in the business

The guard was courtious enough to listen to my two minute speal and "pretended" to make a courtesy call to some higher-up only to turn to me  and say, "Sorry Bub! Move along!"

Little did that Gate Guard know that years later I would be a privledged guest of that very same studio and receive the original 'score sheet' of the 20th Century Fox Fanfare.
But that's story for a later time.  

Yada.... Yada.... Yada
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« Reply #18 on: June 02, 2013, 03:35:41 PM »

Nice thread Stuntmovie! My brother is a photographer, and has lived in the Santa Monica, Venice area for over 40 years! He has seen all the changes and also has a lot of pics! see if I can post some!
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stuntmovie
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« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2013, 08:24:54 PM »

Thanks, RON! That wold be great if you could help me out here!

And it is possible that I know your brother.
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« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2013, 10:57:46 PM »

bumping for stuntmovie - I love this man's stories.
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« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2013, 11:08:59 PM »

Do you have the kneeling lat pose by Doug Strohl?  That was a classic shot.
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« Reply #22 on: June 02, 2013, 11:27:06 PM »

Stunt movie is a LEGEND.
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« Reply #23 on: June 03, 2013, 04:50:56 AM »

Stunt, I believe it was fire:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_hL6m61e6o
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« Reply #24 on: June 03, 2013, 05:01:23 AM »

May I suggest this thread be pinned, please?
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