Bodybuilders Through the Ages

Over the past 150 years, bodybuilders have gone from circus sideshows to celebrities, imparting fitness lessons along the way

Jack LaLanne (1914 - 2011) (Bettmann / Corbis)

Steve Reeves (Mr. Universe)

Steve Reeves
(Maura McCarthy)

After claiming the titles of Mr. America in 1947, Mr. World in 1948 and Mr. Universe in 1950, U.S. Army veteran Steve Reeves parlayed his muscled frame into a successful movie career. Following a few supporting roles in American films—such as Ed Wood’s Jail Bait—Reeves went to Italy where he took center stage in a string of sword-and-sandal beefcake epics. With his classic V shape and international stardom, Reeves brought a new level of public awareness to the sport of bodybuilding.

About Jesse Rhodes

Jesse Rhodes is an editorial assistant for Smithsonian magazine. Before he became an editorial assistant, Jesse worked at the Library of Congress Publishing Office, where he was a contributor to the Library of Congress World War II Companion.

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