IronMan, Vol 16, No 1, Page 9, July 1956
THE Mr. U.S.A. show promoted by Bert Goodrich has always been one of our favorite shows and we never miss one if we can possibly attend, for there you usually see the best built men of the country competing for one of the most coveted titles, for not only do they win a title but a cash prize as well.
So again this year your editor, his wife and son, found themselves attending another exciting event at the huge Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Your editor was on hand to take some photos along with our other two photographers, Hal Stephens and Armand Grant. Unfortunately the distance from the photographers to the men posing for the Mr. U.S.A. show was about 50 ft. which is quite far to get good quality photos. However, we have enough to give you a good picture of the event. Your editors wife took notes of the event for this writeup while our son Gene went along to see the show.
We had a grand opportunity to meet many old friends and make new ones back-stage before the show. We had already met many of the fellows at the Goodrich gym and elsewhere in Los Angeles before the meet.
We were particularly happy to meet Reg Park of England back-stage, and to see that he lived up to his reputation. In his well cut suit he certainly looks the part of the most outstanding physique of our day. We talked to many people and they all agreed that his physique is absolutely the greatest. His huge muscularity and definition leave one speechless, and one photographer remarked that while Reg was posing at the Yarick show he just stood there with his mouth hanging open and his eyes popping out. Of course we got to meet many of our old friends. Mac Batchelor, wrist wrestling champion of the world was on hand and looking as young as ever. Earle Leiderman, who seemingly never changes with the years, was in evidence. Joe Weider, on the go always, was out for the show. Several movie stars were also there and many others we would like to mention but haven't the space available.
The show was opened by some fine music from the orchestra and then the curtains were drawn to reveal a beautiful panorama of physiques, figures and athletic skill. Unfortunately the photographers were not expecting anything like this and were too close to photograph the entire stage setting. This scene was by the Muscle Beach athletes and included a lot of special equipment. It was a thing of rare beauty and impressiveness. The athletes (both men and women) were in colorful athletic costume and in various postures and poses you might expect on the beach, and after a short interval they broke into motion with everyone doing his specialty, some were exercising, some were lifting, others were doing hand balancing, adagio, high bar work etc., etc. This act in itself was a whole show. Then the Cardinals sang the song "Muscle Beach" with lyrics and music by Hal Raywin.
Next on the program was a fine and fast bicycle act or bicycle and unicycle act by the Villenaves. They performed some extraordinary stunts.
Murray Parker was then introduced as the Master of Ceremonies, and though he may not know much about muscles, he knows how to carry a show along when it begins to drag, and he kept the crowd in a good humor all the time. I believe he has acted in this same capacity in other U.S.A. shows.
Jimmie Paine then came running on stage with a big traveling bag in his hand and then went into his act by opening the bag and grasping something unseen by the audience, and as he brought this overhead a little girl emerged from the bag and went into a neat hand to hand with Jimmie. To say that Jimmie and his little girl are good would be putting it mildly, and the audience enjoyed the act a great deal.
Artie James billed as the skating sensation of the nation put on a very fine demonstration of artistic and trick skating.
Now we had a very humorous wrestling bout by Robins and Bono. These two were dressed as typical rassling actors in today's "Grunt and Groan" game. They gave a demonstration of the most bloodthirsty bout-in slow motion. The audience howled at their antics, for they had a very good act. Robins is one of the best bar men in the country and put on a very fine act with the assistance of Bono.
Floyd Page now sprung a surprise as a singer. He rendered "Without A Song" and "Chattanoogo Shoe Shine Boy" with tap dancing and a beautiful voice. His act was very popular and we are sure that he could have quite a future as a singer if he was not so interested in the bodybuilding game and his gym in Palo Alto.
We now came to one of the feature attractions of the evening as Paul Anderson came on the stage to make some lifts for the audience. He started out with the press doing several reps with 330 so easy that the crowd got a great laugh from it. He then took 390 for an easy clean and press. After this he asked for 300 and snatched it to arms length three reps in what looked like easy fashion. Paul was light in bodyweight, having come down from 365 to a skinny 325. He says he did this to get his arms smaller so that he could clean easier. He feels he should keep his arms to 22 inches or less. This is quite a contrast to most fellows who feel they must get their arms as large as possible.
We now came to another big attraction of the show -- the Miss U.S.A. In some shows critics had felt that the quality of the figures in the Miss U.S.A. show were perhaps not quite as good as they should be but this year things were different -- much different. Perhaps I'm no judge of the feminine figure, but I thought this group was the best I'd seen anywhere or anytime. There were some real beauties there. Altogether 23 girls lined up before the judges, and on the platform, one at a time, they went through their poses, and some of them seemed to be very nearly perfect. It was hard to pick a flaw and I'm very critical of women's figures. The following girls were entered: Charline James, Harriet Kurland, Kathy Sellars, Barbara Thomason, Marlys Renfro, Carol Raplee, Jenny Jo Smith, Dorene Gerogeson, May Haydon, Nola Mitchell, Marilyn Curtis, Conine Laine, Taffy Hill, Patricia Gregory, Leatrice Leigh, Beverly Montgomery, Joyce Johnson, Ree Regul, Nancy Mauro, Darlene Owens, Aelina Tuccinard, Audrey Lowell and Paulette Nelson. The latter, Paulette Nelson was a dark horse, for she had entered just before the show. She was featured in another act later in the show. As the girls posed everyone probably picked their favorite, if that was possible, but the judges did not make their choice known until the end of the show. The judges for this contest were Joe Kirkwood Jr. (Joe Palooka), Alvin Roy (who has several health studios for women in the south), Frank Sennes (owner of Moulin Rouge night club). N.T.G., Hollywood Talent Scout, Bill White, casting director for RKO. John Hall, the actor, and several others whose names we didn't get.
After the Miss U.S.A. contest the audience had an opportunity to rest during an intermission.
The second half of the show was opened by the fine tumbling team of Steve Mitkakis from UCLA. These boys were very good and gave a fine demonstration of agility, timing and strength.
Paula and Paulette (the girl mentioned above), gave an excellent trampoline demonstration. These two girls have presented their act all over the USA and are very good.
Kenneth Chertok, an excellent singer, then performed very well indeed. This man has appeared in many of the big shows in New York City.
Paul Anderson now came on for an attempt on his Cont. and Jerk record which stands at 460. After a little warmup he took 410 and pulled it to his belt where he rested it a moment, then with a little jump and a toss he made a full squat under the bar bringing it to his shoulders. This of course, was very easy. He then stood erect and jerk pressed the bar overhead so easy that it looked like a feather. Most of the people there had never seen 400 pounds lifted overhead, so this was quite a treat. He then took 450 and brought it to his shoulders in the same easy manner and then attempted to jerk it but it just wouldn't go so he had to give up for the night. No doubt the three weeks layoff from training had much to do with his failure to jerk the 450 and more. It was advertised that he would try for a 500 lb. lift but this was just not his night.
At this time Bert Goodrich introduced Mac Batchelor and presented him with a fine trophy, for Mac was retiring as the wrist wrestling champion of the world. He has been unbeaten for the past 15 or 20 years.
Bert now announced that he would like to attempt something with his old balancing partner George Redpath, that they had not attempted for the past 8 or 10 years. This was the stunt of going into a handstand from the floor via the flag. This is hard to describe and even more difficult to perform. We have not seen anyone else perform this stunt and since these two had not touched it for so many years they were going to show that once you are strong and physically efficient you will always be that way. Now they had tried it in the gym the day before and it went well but they were before an audience of about 5500 people and it was a different situation, being fully dressed and not even removing their coats they performed the stunt in credible style and received a roar of well deserved applause. We will try to show a photo of this stunt in its most difficult phase, in a photo with this article.
A beautiful young lady from Hawaii then presented a Lei to Bert from Rex Ravelle.
Now we came to the big show with Jack Lalanne doing the announcing for the Mr. U.S.A. 15 men were entered and they were to be judged by two women and several movie celebrities. Perhaps not the best panel of judges, as far as their knowing the good points of a physique and how to vote them, but as it turned out it worked out pretty well, for the first place winner was outstanding and was not difficult to judge. There might have been some question as to the placement of certain others, but I believe the first place choice was just about the unanimous opinion of the audience.
Fifteen men competed for the prizes and title and everyone of them could be termed terrific. Vince Gironda, Eric Pederson, Bob McCune, Bill Pearl, Jimmie Paine, Timmy Leong, Floyd Page, Robert Shealey, Clarence Ross, Lyle Rox, Rex Ravelle, Charles Mallon, Larry Ross, Zabo Kazuskie and Elias Rodriquez lined up on a stage with a very beautiful background and staging. Each man was displayed in his favorite pose as the curtain was drawn, and I believe it was one of the most breathtaking displays of super physiques I have ever seen. The staging, lighting and poses, as well as the physiques, made a very impressive scene.
The men then retired and came out one at a time and gave their posing demonstration. Vince Gironda was first and we were amazed at the change in his physique. He had shape and especially definition we never believed he could acquire. He was terrific and I believe that he probably is the best built small boned man in the country today. It is too bad that he could not have had his physique in such good shape a few years ago when the competition was not so tough.
Eric Pederson was entered in this show which we believe is his first in a long time, as he has been wrestling for several years. He looked good but did not have that fine definition that used to be so outstanding. Bob McCune is another wrestler who again entered physique competition. Bob never did have much in the way of definition but has a fine muscular shape and contour that is very pleasing and I believe he looked as good as he ever has. Bob has opened a gym and forsaken the wrestling mat to teach others the art of bodybuilding.
Bill Pearl was the next man to pose and though we have all agreed that Bill has been one of the best, he was greatly improved for this show. Bill had trained hard on squats, bench presses, rowing, and such exercises with fairly low reps and had bulked up to about 240 pounds. Then he trained down to very fine condition by working out daily with high reps and lots of sets. He did not make much change in his diet but just worked like a demon to train it off. He emerged as one of the best built men of our time, with outstanding size, definition and unequalled symmetry and proportions. He has a superb posing routine.
Next was Jimmie Paine, who like most of the others had won several titles in years past. Jimmie looked very good and seemed to be in top shape. Timmie Leong of Hawaii had been training very hard for this event and was in wonderful shape and looked very good. He should some day win a top title. He was kind enough to present your editor with a beautiful desk name plate which we proudly display on our desk. Thank you, Timmie.
Floyd Page has been in many contests and won several titles and had trained a great deal for this contest, but he lacks the fine definition he once had and which made him famous. However, he still IS terrific and probably has as much definition as many of the others. As a general rule as a man grows older he cannot maintain the fine definition that he had at a younger age. You acquire a little layer of fat just under the skin and no matter how hard you train you just can't get quite the sharp cuts in the muscles that you could when younger.
Robert Shealey was next man up and here is a man who is really amazing. He is terrifically muscular, with arms that must be nearly 20 inches, and good shape and fine definition. He has a good posing routine and we would say that he is possibly the best colored man in the world today. He has the typical high calf of most colored men, which is a disadvantage. We have only seen one or two colored men who had a low calf of good shape.
Clarence Ross was the next man up and he looked very good. He has wonderful shape and symmetry and gave his usual polished posing routine. Clancy is another who doesn't quite show the definition he used to, but he is still a hard man to beat.
Lyle Fox has competed in amateur meets in the past but has a fine physique and gave a nice posing display. Rex Ravelle followed Lyle, Rex, as you know, now operates a health studio in Hawaii and used to be a movie stunt man. He has an outstanding physique -- the broad shouldered type that the public favors so much. Even though he has large measurements his broad shoulders and longer than average arms make him appear more slender than he should. He looked wonderful this evening, though, and had a fine Hawaiian tan.
Charlie Mallon, who now operates the health studios formerly owned by WaIt Baptiste in San Francisco, is a little fellow of about 5'2" and has a terrific upper body, but his legs are much too light and spoil an otherwise magnificent physique. He has great definition and muscular size in his upper body but looked rather small alongside the giants of 200 and 220. He plans to train harder than ever for next year's contest. Larry Ross, who has done so well in past years as an amateur, gave a fine posing routine that displayed his very fine physique to great advantage.
Zabo Koszewski looked his usual terrific self. He is always in top condition and ready for a contest any time. He is about the best of the slender framed fellows and has packed about the limit of muscularity on his body.
Elias Rodriquez will soon be an old timer but looked as youthful as ever. He is one of the fellows who is exceptional in that he preserves as much definition as he had years ago. This fellow just doesn't appear to have any skin over his muscles. Every detail of every muscle stands out in bold relief and makes him appear to weigh much more than his 150 or so at a 5'6" height.
This concluded the posing, and the judges, Loree Tuttle of "Life With Father", Jeff Donna (George Gobel's TV wife), Vince Edward (from the motion picture "Serenade"), Terry Robinson (trainer of Mario Lanza) and Karo Whitfield of Atlanta Georgia (where he operates a gym) retired to compile their points and determine the winner.
With an act or two to fill in, they were soon out to present the trophies to the winners of the Miss U.S.A. and the Mr. U.S.A.
The Mr. U.S.A. winner was Bill Pearl, and he was presented the biggest trophy we have ever seen, and a $500 check. Clarence Ross was second with a nice trophy and a $250 check. Koszewski was third with a trophy and a $100 check. Fourth place winner was Timmie Leong with a $50 check and 5th was Bob Shealey with a $25 check. I believe the last two also received trophies.
In the Miss U.S.A. show Miss Paulette Nelson, the girl who worked in the trampoline act, was first. She is a fine athlete and works out regularly in a gym and excels in trampoline, tumbling, unicycle and ballet. She is 5'8" tall and weighs 130 Ibs. with 36-24-37 measurements. She is 19 years old and has red hair.
Corrine Laine was second and Barbara Thomason, who has won many titles, was third. In fourth place was Beverly Montgomery, while 5th was won by Charline James, and we thought she had about the finest figure we had ever seen. She was very active and we saw her do a pullup and pushup on some handstand standards as easily as anyone could.
Thus ended a great show and people filed out of the auditorium with the avowed intention of returning for another great show that Goodrich promises next year.
- Color photo, left, taken by Hal Stephens at the Mr. U.S.A. show just after Bill Pearl won the title and trophy shown. Above, wee see, left, Reg Park as he greeted the audience, and in center Floyd Page makes his debut as a pop singer. Right, Mac Batchelor receives a trophy from Bert Goodrich in honor of his retirement as World Champion wrist wrestler. Small photo shows a harried Goodrich, who stopped just long enough for a snap, as he was rushing around keeping the show going smoothly.
- These two fine photos of Bill Pearl were snapped on stage after the show, and though they are just flash photos they give some indication of what superb condition he was in. All photos with this report are by Hal Stephens and Armand Grant.
- Bob Shealey shows terrific muscularity as he poses with his trophy at top of page. In the lower photo we see Anderson as he finished an easy 410 jerk press. Note the belt he used with towel inserted for supporting bar in the Continental style pull-in to chest. Some people erroneously call this a Continental Clean but this is wrong, for a clean must be brought from floor to shoulders without touching any part of the body.
- Eric Pederson was in good shape and maintains most of his size and muscularity though he does not have quite the definition he need to have. He is on the left. In the center is Clarence Ross, who looked very good, and on the right is Vince Gironda, who looked the best of his life.
- The figures of the Miss U.S.A. contestants were very outstanding this year as can be seen from the girls above. Left to right they are Paulette Nelson, who won the title, then Corrine Laine, second, Barbara Thomason third, Bevery Moutgomery fourth and Charline James fifth.
- One hilariously funny act was the Grunt and Groan pantomime in slow motion by Robins and Bono, shown at upper left. Jimmie Paine and his daughter put on a nice act as shown in the photos just above, while Bert Goodrich and George Redpath tried the most difficult balancing stunt of the act they had about 10 years ago, and succeeded though fully dressed. Photo at upper right shows them in the most difficult position of the stunt.
If you find these articles interesting and useful, please