January 23, 2011, - 10:50 pm

Jack LaLanne, Class Act & Super Nice Guy, RIP

By Debbie Schlussel

My late maternal grandfather, Isaac Engel, and my great-uncle, Moishe Greitzer–both Holocaust survivors–were fans of Jack LaLanne and told me all about him when I was a kid.  So, it was very cool for me to be on ABC’s “Politically Incorrect” with him in 2002.  I told him how my uncle Moishe had worked out at the health club chain bearing his name and was a strong man and muscular fitness enthusiast, plus he and LaLanne were the same age.  My sharp uncle Moishe (of blessed memory) died this summer just shy of 96 years old from pneumonia and respiratory failure and, like LaLanne, Uncle Moshe worked out vigorously until right before he died, swimming for an hour every day at a New York health club.  The news just broke that LaLanne passed away, today, at 96 of the same thing as my great-uncle.

Sad, but he lived a long and vigorous life.  And his many moves, like fingertip push-ups have inspired many videos by modern fitness connoisseurs .  He was one of the few men who could wear ballet slippers (during workouts on his TV show) and still look masculine.

When I met LaLanne in a green room at the CBS Television Center in Los Angeles, I was impressed.  Not only was the man–at that time 87 years old–incredibly ripped and muscular, but he was doing all kinds of leg lifts, push-ups, and other physical feats many men 1/4 his age could not do.  And, on top of that, LaLanne and his wife were extremely nice, friendly, and just class acts.  Most people will remember him for the Power Juicer infomercials, but I will remember him as one of the most down to earth celebrities I met on the set of “Politically Incorrect,” a show I did more than a dozen times.  And unlike most celebrities, LaLanne remained married to the same woman for over half a century.  He and Elaine were married for 51 years.  You could tell, meeting them in the green room, that this was definitely a lasting love story.

Jack LaLanne, Rest In Peace.

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24 Responses

He was a good man.

Worry01 on January 23, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    As a child, my mother exercised with Jack everyday. She used a towel and chair in front of the TV. Very cute.

    He was married twice. He stepparent adopted his second (Elaine) wife’s children and they had a son together. Sadly, the only daughter died in 1970s in a car accident.

    Class act! RIP, JL.

    As goes Israel, so goes the World... on January 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm

      PS Jack invented some impressive workout equipment still used today!!

      As goes Israel, so goes the World... on January 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Amen and R.I.P. Jack LaLanne. I enjoyed watching him and learning about physical fitness at an early age, and thank you Debbie for the well deserved tribute to him.
I remember him swimming either to, or from, Alcatraz island for at least one of his birthdays, if my recollection is correct.
Unlike the bilge that is broadcast (or should I say fraud-cast) on the ‘toob’ today, you could tell by just watching his program that he was (and his wife is) genuine, decent people.

T. Y. on January 23, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Only the good die young.

I used to watch his show once in a while as a kid.

ebayer on January 24, 2011 at 12:34 am

He was my example and the reason I got into fitness. I admired him and was in awed of all the things he did throughout his years. A real class act even when he got screwed over by the corporate gym world.

Jack LaLanne another great and true American icon, R.I.P.

Give me twenty, Marine!!!!

The Sarge on January 24, 2011 at 8:44 am

I liked watching Jack LaLanne in the early 1960’s for his physical abilities and common sense message. Corporate America does not like to hear the truth and LaLanne told the truth about diet and exercise and do not smoke.

Jack LaLanne had a very simple message and did not specialize in elaborate for exercise.

May he Rest in Peace.

Pat on January 24, 2011 at 10:13 am

God bless this good man. I always enjoyed him. He was a great American!

Skunky on January 24, 2011 at 10:27 am

Jack was a great American. I hope I’m still able to sit on the toilet at age 96, let alone exercise.

Truth on January 24, 2011 at 10:49 am

I love his juicer! insert 5 or 6 apples and a couple stalks celery–delicious! will make one and savor it in his honor

dee dee on January 24, 2011 at 11:28 am

LaLanne was a bad ass. He didn’t do it for self promotion. He genuinely cared that people get into shape. He knew the importance of fitness. Today’s fitness gurus are about about ‘6 pack abs’, playing on the vanity and shallowness of today’s man. And he would talk about fitness without any PC garbage or trendy workouts. He was a man.

RIP LaLanne.

CaliforniaScreaming on January 24, 2011 at 11:38 am

Thanks for sharing this Debbie, I am going to bookmark it. I just did the run through with Jack, nothing but the basics… that is all we need!

sharon on January 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I think it was him, on one of his birthdays, that pulled a railroad car like a horse pulling a plow. If I remember right he even did it with his end of the attached rope between his teeth! It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that the car was loaded!

CornCo Leo on January 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Jack LaLanne was the true pioneer of physical fitness. The man was in awesome shape (steroid free!!!), and he never failed to impress us with his annual feats of strength.

A short while ago, Rush Limbaugh stated on his radio show that, despite Jack LaLanne living a healthy lifestyle…….he died anyway.
Despite eating a healthy diet of non-processed foods, and lots of fruits and vegetables…..he died anyway.

I don’t ever recall Jack LaLanne stating that (due to his healthy lifestyle) he would never die.

Rush was referring to a recent article that stated that each of us should have 8 servings of fruits/vegetables per day, rather than 5 servings.
He chose to use Jack as an example of the ‘nonsense’ that people simply believe whatever they read without question. (In other words, the belief that eating healthy and exercising regularly is good for you.)

The fact that Jack LaLanne lived to the age of 96, and could pull-off those aforementioned feats of strength well into his 80’s, seems to have escaped the all-knowing Rush.
I suppose Rush believes that Jack could’ve performed those same feats had he dieted on cheeseburgers and fries while parked on the couch day after day.

Good grief……what an idiot.
And he gets fifty million per year to give his opinion on the radio.
Only in America.

Guitarguy on January 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    GG, I think you missed (and it’s sorta easy to understand) the joke of what Rush said. He sometimes plays the “straight” man and instead of laughing and/or explaining the joke or absurdity, he plays it straight…then has fun with all the peeps who call in who take his absurd statement for real.

    Rush plays a very good straight-man.

    Also, he was having fun at the expense of health-nuts who sometimes act like one can live forever if they take their physical fitness/diet oh so seriously.

    He was just having fun.

    Skunky on January 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm

      I have been a fan of Jack LaLanne since I was a boy in the 1960s.

      I think his sharp/crisp mind and health up to a ripe old age is a testament to exercise and healthy diet.

      As for Rush Limbaugh’s comments, I listen to hum daily (& find him quite insightful); While I agree with Skunk’s comments:
      “Also, he was having fun at the expense of health-nuts who sometimes act like one can live forever if they take their physical fitness/diet oh so seriously.”

      I think this was a rare slip on Limbaugh’s part as this did not come off as the “straight-man”.
      Rush could have used this to make his point (such as we are still all going to die) much better rather than seem to imply that diet has no affect on health and longevity which is total bunk as my profession includes nutrition research and the facts fly in the face of such thinking.

      Carl on January 26, 2011 at 10:39 am

Unlike Arnold Schwartenshtupper, this man did it all without steroids!!!

A class act. G-d bless him.

Jonathan Grant on January 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    JG, you’re so right!
    Years ago when I went from skinny runt to flabby runt I decided it was time to get int some real bodybuiling exercise. After picking up a few of those BodyBuiling mags I realized all those guys did it for show. Most were some of the unhealthiest people on the planet!
    Frank Zane is one of the bodybuilders I did respect though because he was into real year round health and fitness like LaLanne, and if you Google him you’ll see he’s still in incredible shape that most men would be envious of. These new bodybuilders are steroid pumped baloon muscled freaks without a single real muscle in their body, not at all athletic and symmetrical like Zane and LaLanne. I wonder how some can even wipe their own arse! Bet none of them live to be 96 for sure.

    theShadow on January 26, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I met him years ago. It’s something that I’ll always remember.

Allen on January 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Yes indeed, he was a class act. There was nothing phoney about. So rare and so refreshing.

Ok, now everyone needs to drop and give Jack 20 for old times sake! He’d do it for you!

Paul on January 24, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Used to watch his show in the 60’s as a child with my mother. he taught me all about the importance of excercise and eating right. He will be sorely missed, A great American hero.

Anthony on January 24, 2011 at 8:52 pm

One of television’s funniest moments was the episode of “Mr. Ed” where the horse is watching Jack LaLanne on TV and exercising along with him. LaLanne also made guest appearances on The Lucy Show and numerous other sitcoms. If he hadn’t been a fitness guru, he could’ve just as easily carved out a career for himself as a pretty decent light comic actor.

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