Jack LaLanne

  • Born: September 26, 1914
  • Died: January 23, 2011
  • Location: Morro Bay, California

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In this Feb. 20, 1980 file photo, Jack LaLanne pumps iron in the gym in his home in Hollywood, Calif.

Fitness guru and juicing powerhouse dies at 96

ANDREW DALTON, The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru who inspired television viewers to trim down, eat well and pump iron for decades before diet and exercise became a national obsession, died Sunday. He was 96.

LaLanne died of respiratory failure due to pneumonia Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay on California's central coast, his longtime agent Rick Hersh said.

Lalanne ate healthy and exercised every day of his life up until the end, Hersh said.

"I have not only lost my husband and a great American icon, but the best friend and most loving partner anyone could ever hope for," Elaine LaLanne, Lalanne's wife of 51 years and a frequent partner in his television appearances, said in a written statement.

Just before he had heart valve surgery in 2009 at age 95, Jack Lalanne told his family that dying would wreck his image, his publicist Ariel Hankin said at the time.

"He was amazing," said 87-year-old former "Price is Right" host Bob Barker, who credited LaLanne's encouragement with helping him to start exercising often.

"He never lost enthusiasm for life and physical fitness," Barker told The Associated Press on Sunday. "I saw him in about 2007 and he still looked remarkably good. He still looked like the same enthusiastic guy that he always was."

LaLanne (pronounced lah-LAYN') credited a sudden interest in fitness with transforming his life as a teen, and he worked tirelessly over the next eight decades to transform others' lives, too.

"The only way you can hurt the body is not use it," LaLanne said. "Inactivity is the killer and, remember, it's never too late."

His workout show was a television staple from the 1950s to the '70s. LaLanne and his dog Happy encouraged kids to wake their mothers and drag them in front of the television set. He developed exercises that used no special equipment, just a chair and a towel.

He also founded a chain of fitness studios that bore his name and in recent years touted the value of raw fruit and vegetables as he helped market a machine called Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer.

When he turned 43 in 1957, he performed more than 1,000 push-ups in 23 minutes on the "You Asked For It" television show. At 60, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco — handcuffed, shackled and towing a boat. Ten years later, he performed a similar feat in Long Beach harbor.

He maintained a youthful physique and joked in 2006 that "I can't afford to die. It would wreck my image."

"I never think of my age, never," LaLanne said in 1990. "I could be 20 or 100. I never think about it, I'm just me. Look at Bob Hope, George Burns. They're more productive than they've ever been in their whole lives right now."

Fellow bodybuilder and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger credited LaLanne with taking exercise out of the gymnasium and into living rooms.

"He laid the groundwork for others to have exercise programs, and now it has bloomed from that black and white program into a very colorful enterprise," Schwarzenegger said in 1990.

In 1936 in his native Oakland, LaLanne opened a health studio that included weight-training for women and athletes. Those were revolutionary notions at the time, because of the theory that weight training made an athlete slow and "muscle bound" and made a woman look masculine.

"You have to understand that it was absolutely forbidden in those days for athletes to use weights," he once said. "It just wasn't done. We had athletes who used to sneak into the studio to work out.

"It was the same with women. Back then, women weren't supposed to use weights. I guess I was a pioneer," LaLanne said.

The son of poor French immigrants, he was born in 1914 and grew up to become a sugar addict, he said.

The turning point occurred one night when he heard a lecture by pioneering nutritionist Paul Bragg, who advocated the benefits of brown rice, whole wheat and a vegetarian diet.

"He got me so enthused," LaLanne said. "After the lecture I went to his dressing room and spent an hour and a half with him. He said, 'Jack, you're a walking garbage can.'"

Soon after, LaLanne constructed a makeshift gym in his back yard. "I had all these firemen and police working out there and I kind of used them as guinea pigs," he said.

He said his own daily routine usually consisted of two hours of weightlifting and an hour in the swimming pool.

"It's a lifestyle, it's something you do the rest of your life," LaLanne said. "How long are you going to keep breathing? How long do you keep eating? You just do it."

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Dan and Jon, and a daughter, Yvonne.

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Associated Press writer Polly Anderson contributed to this report.

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Condolence & Memory Journal

Candle

what an inspirational human being.he'll be missed.

Posted by LAQUITA    April 02, 2011

I followed his fitness program for years. Now age 70. Thank you, for all your fitness help. Prayers are with your family.

Posted by Bonnie Woodruff - Graceville, FL - Followed his fitness program   February 08, 2011

Candle

always admired the gentleman and how he lead his life. My condolences to his family and friends.

Posted by Beverly Ball - fan   February 04, 2011

My mother introduced her children to watching Jack LaLanne on television. She had us exercising with her in front of the television early in the morning before she got the older kids off to school. He will be missed.

Posted by Melissa Phillips - CT   January 29, 2011

My mother and I worked out with Jack Lalanne, back in the 60's. I stopped working out as I grew older, gained weight and lost my "hour glass" shape as Jack called it. When he turned 90 I saw him on ESPN Classic. I started working out with him everyday since, which has been 6 years. I feel better, look better, regained my zest for life and now have that hour glass shape. I'm 52 and weigh 125. Thanks Jack!!! I feel like I know you so well and haven't even met you in person. You and Happy rest in peace.

Posted by Kathy Barten - Salt Lake City, UT - Admirer   January 28, 2011

Candle

His zest for life was like no other person on this earth.....

Posted by Audrey Paddack - admirer   January 26, 2011

Candle

Jack ~ May you rest in peace. Blessings to Blaine, Jon, Don & Yvone of peace & love.

Jack & Blaine you have been my fitness gurus all of my life, sharing that fondly very often to my family & friends. I met you when I was a little girl visiting family friends in Palm Springs. Recongnizing you from your TV Workouts, I would go up to you to say HI at Murray's Market & the gas station. You have always been so kind & inspired me. Blaine trained me at Jack LaLanne's in Rosemead CA where I began body-building at 18 (worked out in Covina, CA too). I last saw you both in Olympia, WA over 10 years ago when you came to record the "Lucky for Life" WA State Lottery commercial at Mixx 96.1 KXXO where I worked at the time.

You have & will be my inspiration for life. You kept me motivated to work out after many accidents & illnesses. I have developed at Christian Pilates/Yoga Programme and was hoping to share it with you to thank you for being there for me & so so very many of us who have heard your messages & carried on to share with others. Love you always and sad to hear you have departed from us here. You are now an official angel looking down on us from above. Come visit anytime...

Posted by Teresa LaBouff    January 26, 2011

I was a fat overweight tween in the late 1960's. I saw Jack's shows and I learned the basics of exercising from him. Flash forward to 2011, and I am now a trim and fit 50 year old.

I thank Jack LaLanne for providing a good example for staying fit, when I was a youngster.

May God bless him for his contribution.

Posted by M - Staten Island, NY - Admirer   January 26, 2011

Mr Jack LaLanne , Forever memories that you brought to many . At the age of 4 visiting my dear Grand Father and my Aunt we would turn the TV on so just to watch you . She would be in her chair and I up trying to do all the exercises you were showing . The show always seemed to end to quickly for I wanted to try more . My Aunt would stand up from her comfortable chair and say "wasn't that a good work out" . I knew it was more for me then for her but never did she know that forever memories were something you also gave to me on those days. Deeply saddened by your passing . Thoughts and comfort for your Family . May we all live our lives with a purpose if not to only leave touching and lasting forever memories for all those around us .

Posted by Viewer - USA - A life he Touched   January 25, 2011

Candle

I used to work out with Jack when I was a little girl, I remember using a chair, I have always looked at his website just to see if he still works out....and he did. The will power he had was amazing. His wife is also a beautiful woman, and my prayers are with her. But I bet'cha Jack is in Heaven doing push ups.

Posted by cheryl - follower   January 25, 2011

Candle

I watched Jack's show, along with my Mother, in 1960, when I was 10 years old. He was my first introduction to fitness. I used the Glamor Stretcher. I was an inspiration to millions of people. God bless him.

Posted by Bob Hamilton    January 24, 2011

Candle

My Mother & I used to exercise with Jack every day, & continue for another 30 minutes after his show ended. We were able to keep off the weight and continue to exercise. Thanks so much for your leadership. You will be greatly missed. God bless all family members & friends during this difficult time.

Posted by Linda Neufeld-Bridges - Admirer   January 24, 2011

Candle

He was such an inspiration to all of us! I remember watching his TV show with my mother and we did his exercises using chairs and towels like he did on his show. May you rest in eternal and heavenly peace.

Posted by Debbie Poore - a fan   January 24, 2011

Ever since I was very young I remember Jack LaLanne doing exercises on TV. I think I must have been in 1st or 2nd grade. He was one the people that enspired me to exercise and stay healthy.

Posted by Sue - Orlando, FL - fan   January 24, 2011

Candle

I remember using soup cans to exercise.

Posted by Carol    January 24, 2011

Candle

Since I was about 5 years old I have been encourged by his ability to motivate people into exercise. He was a gift from our Heavenly Father.

Posted by Lori P.Tait - FAn   January 24, 2011

Candle

My mother enjoyed his fitness center in Santa Barbara, California. A true example of the American dream. A great positive attitude and inspiration to others

Posted by Ruth Zitron - admirer   January 24, 2011

Sending my condolonces to your family for the loss of a great man who has helped many people thru the years to live a long life gone but never forgotten..we love you Jack hugs to you all

Posted by Phyllis Riffey - Roanoke, VA - friend   January 24, 2011

HE WILL BE MISSED BY ALL WHO LOVED HIM AND BELIEVED IN WHAT HE DONE.I SEND MY CONDOLENCES TO A GREAT MAN.

Posted by bonnie park - WEST CARROLLTON, OH - fan   January 24, 2011

I grew up watching him on tv while my mom did the exercises along with in and as i got older i too did the work out with him,,he will be missed

Posted by jeana - minneapolis, MN   January 24, 2011

I'll miss Jack LaLanne.
My earliest memories of Jack LaLanne were of his TV exercise show when I was about 4 in 1961. He had his dog Happy along with him while he exercised. My Mom would exercise watching his show.

I also remember his stunts in the water pulling boats while I lived in Long Beach in the 1980s. I always was a little doubtful that a man as old as he could tow those boats and people. Maybe someday someone will tell us that he had a little underwater help doing those stunts? Anyway, he was an inspiration to all of us who just don't feel like exercising some days. 96 is quite an achievement, especially since he was so sharp throughout his whole life. He will be missed by myself and millions of his fans.

Posted by Richard Leader - Laguna Niguel, CA - Fan of Jack LaLanne   January 24, 2011

Candle

Jack LaLanne was a Pioneer in the Fitness Industry - He was an inspiration and I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Win Paris in the 70's one of Jack's disciples who encouraged me to pursue fitness as a way of life. My thoughts and prayers go out to the LaLanne family. What a remarkable man was Jack LaLanne

Posted by James Griffin - FAN   January 24, 2011

I watched Jack LaLanne on TV with my Mom as a child -- I recall watching him almost every morning. Years later, my husband I enjoyed many dinner converstaions with Jack and his wife at Harada and Windows on the Water in Morro Bay. I will always remember him asking me to punch him in the stomach to proove his abdominal stength. I will always remember his humor, wit and charm. The last time I saw him, he was eating a healthy local fish entree and he got up and danced with his beautiful wife beside our trable at Windows on the Water. That was just a few years ago and it will be a wonderful lasting memory.

Posted by Lori Mainini Hall - Arroyo Grande, CA - friend   January 24, 2011

I grew up watching him on TV - I'm sorry for your loss.

Posted by Nancy - Henrico, VA - Admirer   January 24, 2011


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In this Sept. 26, 2002 file photo, fitness expert Jack LaLanne strikes a characteristic pose as he takes the first official step on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and his 88th birthday, following dedication ceremonies on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Actress Jane Russell sings "Happy Birthday" to physical fitness expert Jack LaLanne during the dedication of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and his 88th birthday, Thursday. Sept. 26, 2002, on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Jack LaLanne strikes his legendary muscle man pose along with his wife Blaine at their home in Morro Bay, Calif., Dec. 23, 2003.
Physical fitness buff Jack LaLanne demonstrates at age 75 he still has the strength and body of someone 20 years his junior as his wife Elaine looks on in September 1990 at their home in Morro Bay, Calif.
In this undated photo provided by Angel City Press, Harold Zinkin, on the bottom doing a backbend, supports Deforrest "Moe" Most, who supports Jack LaLanne with Gene Miller, on top, in Santa Monica, Calif.
In this Feb. 20, 1980 file photo, Jack LaLanne pumps iron in the gym in his home in Hollywood, Calif.

Default Album

In this Feb. 20, 1980 file photo, fitness guru Jack LaLanne shows off his brand of Vitamins at his home in Hollywood, Calif.
California Hall of Fame inductee Jack LaLanne, left, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, right, watch the Hall of Fame ceremony at the California Museum of History, Women and Arts in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Dec. 15, 2008.
In this Nov. 7, 1975 file photo, fitness expert Jack LaLanne, 61, comes out of the chilly water after a successful swim from the Marin County side along the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco.