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)

Katie Sandwina Strongwoman

Katie Sandwina
(Maura McCarthy)

This Austrian-born female bodybuilder adopted a variation of Sandow’s name to advance her own unique career. Over the course of 38 years, she exhibited her 6-foot, 210-pound muscular frame in circuses and theaters around the world and performed stunts such as juggling cannonballs, supporting a spinning merry-go-round with riders on her chest, and tossing her 160-pound husband in the air. Unfortunately, contemporary popular opinion labeled female bodybuilders as little more than circus freaks.

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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