Muslce Power, Vol 12 No 5, Page 14, October 1951

Mr. America 1951
Roy Hilligenn

by Earle Liederman

Malcolm Brenner was second, while Marvin Eder and George Paine tied for third place.

The great event is over! Everyone had anxiously awaited the nights of June 15th and 16th past, and not one is disappointed, for it proved to be the finest show the AAU has ever staged. Between the National championships, wherein John Davis made a new world's record in the clean and jerk by doing the enormous lift of 402 lbs., to the final judging of the physique entrants, there was not a dull moment. Each of the 27 entrants in the Mr. America contest was so finely proportioned and so magnificently developed that any among the first ten selected for a second judging, could have been a winner. But this does not take anything away from Roy Hilligenn who was at his best. I have never seen him look better. His compact musculature held spectators captivated when he performed his numerous poses, and when he was awarded the biggest trophy and the title, all in the audience were pleased. But before going into further details, let me give you the setting where this affair was held.

At the north side of Hollywood, there are numerous hills. Some of these rise to nearly 2,000 feet. At the edge of these green hills there is built the Greek theatre -- modeled after one of those of ancient Greek era. The stage is very wide and deep, and back and deep into the sides and rear of this stage hangs a black plush cyclorama drop or curtain. The audience seats itself in very wide rows of benches built upon stone or concrete, and these rows run backwards and upwards, so that the last row seems to be elevated about fifty feet above the first one. In other words, the slope from the last row down to the first row is a great deal steeper than any theatre in which you have been.

As the crowd poured into this space of lengthy benches and aisles, and awaited the parting of the silk-like front stage curtain, everyone seemed to relax into the arms of an enchanted evening. Overhead were the fading colors of the setting sun, for it was but 7:30 o'clock -- the time scheduled for the big events to start. It was not long before the moon could be seen hanging like a huge silver coin in the Eastern sky, while the planet Venus sparkled in the West, and over the tips of the tall pines, like a brilliant diamond. And it was cool! The damp breath from the Pacific ocean crept upon the audience and then onto the skin of those who were about to perform. This was Friday night - the first night wherein the initial section of the lifting and the judging of the best body-parts was about to take place. The final selection of Mr. America was saved until the next night. So, let me quickly take you into Saturday night and to the main attractions, and then I shall return to the weight events and subdivisions later on.


Roy Hilligenn, the Mr. America for 1951, was born to be a prize contestant. When he was a baby six months old, he won the first prize for being the prettiest in an open contest held in South Africa; then, just twenty-one years later, he was awarded the title of Mr. South Africa. When he came to the United States, he possessed a fine attractive physique with very useful muscles. That was about five or six years ago. During this time he trained continually and lead a very adventurous life, travelling all over the States, training in various gymnasiums, and even taking his workouts in the hottest spot in the land -- Death Valley, California, where he settled for a while. This Valley is far below the sea level and the heat is mostly intense. From time to time he entered physique contest and took high honors, but with the title of Mr. America always in his mind, it was not until late in the night of June 16th that his ambitions were realized and all of his dreams came true. He trained mighty hard for this famous event and when he stepped upon the posing platform to show his "wares" in the form of larger and better developed muscles, he appeared to be in the finest shape I have ever seen him.


The contest was a very difficult one to judge. Each contestant owned excellent muscles and looked good. Many were prize winners in major events in other States while some held numerous titles. For example, there was Malcolm Brenner who is Mr. California for 1951, and then there was Alvin Lee, who holds the title of Mr. Pacific Coast, and Victor Nicoletti owns Mr. New York City, Mr. Los Angeles and also one of Mr. Pacific Coast. Marvin Eder possesses Mr. Eastern America title, and so on down the line-nearly all prize winners. The judges were reluctantly forced to weed out seventeen, until there became the final ten from which to select the one worthy of the crown. Even this was difficult. The judges were forced to go into a special 100 point system of judging, and the usual hush which occurs during that tense moment just before the final decision, immediately changed to a din as Roy Hilligenn was proclaimed Mr. America! It was then that Roy was all teeth and with a pounding heart. He won because he was given 68 1/2 points. Malcolm Brenner came in second only 1 1/2 points behind, there being 67 points in his favor. And only two points lower were George Paine and Marvin Eder who tied for third spot with 65 Points. Monty Wolford had 61 points for fourth place while Keith Stephen was fifth with 59 points. Vic Nicoletti and Pepper Gomez engaged in a tie for sixth spot with 57 points each, So you may readily see how close this contest really was. The judges did a good job of everything and were very conscientious despite the regular disappointments of the many who personally thought that they deserved the big trophy. And as one of the announcers previously mentioned, "It appears as though there could be ten or twelve Mr. Americas selected."

Photographs and words cannot do justice to the wonderful physiques that lined the wide stage as they stood in a final relaxed uniform posture like a small regiment while the judges gave each a last careful study. The largest entrants were Malcolm Brenner and Keith Stephen who seemed a head taller than all the rest. Pepper Gomez, Marvin Eder and Joe Sanceri appeared to be the "chunkiest" in muscle during this final line-up. And George Paine, the Eastern colored boy, impressed this reporter as possessing the greatest definition of all for a 190 lb. athlete. His abdominals were sensational, yet he did not win the award for the best, though he ran away with the prize for the finest back, as this fellow's back development is absolutely sensational.

Personally, I think that the selection of the best body-parts in a physique contest is the hardest job of all, for when each contestant poses for this special display of a certain body-section, each of the entrants seems to be the best and it takes a perfect memory to maintain the one outstanding "best-section" as twenty-seven are being judged. For example: --Brenner has a marvelous back and so has Eder, and the same can be said for Gomez, Rodriques, Hilligenn, Nicoletti, Lee and others; but Paine simply had all that the rest owned and something more! And as for the selection of the best legs on the opening night of this affair, again there were Nicoletti, Sanceri, Wolford, Paine, Brenner, Rodriquez and Mascaro to consider, but Roy Hilligen secured the award. In selecting the best arms, size alone could not be entertained. There had to be contour and separation as well as appearance of both biceps and triceps with forearm contour a factor. Marvin Eder has remarkable biceps which he can contract in double style. By that I mean, he can first flex them tightly, and as these arms seem to be tensed at their utmost, he can then further contract his biceps so that hey raise and move in rhythm towards his deltoids. I have never seen this done before. And his biceps are as large as standard size baseballs, but the second award was given him because the mighty arms of Malcolm Brenner were just a bit better. Malcolm also won the best chest event for he is difficult to beat in this division, and Roy Hilligenn secured second place. In the best abdominals, the award went to Kenneth Cameron, who has won first prizes before for his clean-cut and finely formed abdominal muscles, while George Paine had to be satisfied with second place.


To obtain a decision in the judging of the most muscular physique, numerous factors must be considered, such as uniformity of muscle-structure as applied to entire body, and the size and contour as well as definition of all of the muscles, and last bur not least, the whole proportion of the contestant's physique. Many entrants have great developments but lack neck-size or calf-size and thus become disqualified in judging this division. Anyway, Roy Hilligenn was proclaimed as having the most muscular body and George Paine was given second place. Marvin Eder, who had bady sprained his leg the day before by lifting to heavy a weight at Muscle Beach, and which undoubtedly proved a handicap because of constant pain, got third spot in this division. By now you may have a fair appreciation of the physiques of those who ran one-two-three in being the most muscular when they beat such sensationally muscular fellows like Brenner, Nicoletti, Mascaro, Gomez, Venus, Wolford, Lee and Rodriques, and to which might be added many other names.

There were upwards of four thousand enthusiastic spectators, who were most generous with their appreciative applause despite the chill of the night air, as all sat under a roof of sky. And, as for each of the contestants, he labored under a personal handicap of having to stand hour after hour with bare feet upon stone flooring and with goose-pimples covering his cold muscles. A few of those who posed actually had chattering teeth. However, the honor and privilege of owning a physique good enough to display at a major event such as a Mr. America contest, should greatly compensate all who did not become the Mr. America, and it undoubtedly spurs them on to further efforts and greater determination to build-up muscle during the next fiscal year to again try for the coveted title. Roy Hilligenn is happy, and the world congratulates him upon his victory. I, personally, think that he well deserves his laurels, for he had worked mighty hard to reach the ladder's top rung where he stands today.


- Special awards went to Malcolm Brenn for chest and arms, George Paine tied for third and took best back, Kenneth Cameron won best abdominals, while Mr. America Hilligenn too most muscular and legs.

- Almost as pleased as the winner, was Malcolm Brenner, on left, who took second spot. Malcolm has made a tremendous come-back this year, after a serious illness and was in great shape. Marvin Eder, on right took tie for third with George Paine.

- Mrs. Frances Maltin, who graiously handed out the awards, is shown here with Marvin Eder and George Paine. These two New York City bodybuilders tied for third place, 3 1/2 points behind the winner.

- George Paine is shown here congratulating Hilligenn, who has just been presented with his Mr. America trophy by Mrs. Matlin. Marvin Eder stands behind Paine with his hand also extended. Malcolm Brenner still seems dazed with joy of taking second place.

- Another pose of the special division winners, showing their winning parts. Left to right, Brenner who won arm, Paine who took back, Cameron with best Abdominals, and Hilligenn, most muscular and legs.

- Below is seen a part of the 27 contestants in contest. Said one commentator, "We could select a dozen Mr. America's from this group". Indeed, each represents the finest in American-manhood. We are proud of them all.

- The winner and a great champion! Roy Hilligenn can well afford to smile now, as he poses proudly next to the trophy which establishes him King of the amateur bodybuilders for a year. He also took best legs and most muscular awards.

- 4,000 spectator jammed into this huge Hollywood theatre, selected with rare taste by the officials of the AAU for this great event. An outdoor auditorium, built after Grecian architecture, the stars looked down on a type of manhood, even the Greeks could not produce.

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