Though you know personalities you grew up with aren't going to live forever, it was still sad to read this morning about Sunday's death, at age 96, of fitness guru and television exercise star Jack LaLanne. LaLanne was an irrepressible advocate for clean healthy living, good nutrition, vigorous exercise and a sunny attitude, but if he sounds like a self-righteous do-gooder, that's not what he represented at all. LaLanne was a charming and unique celebrity whose long life would seem to be the ultimate validation of his positive lifestyle.
In addition to being a genuine body-builder, LaLanne was a true pioneer of early television, hosting his own exercise show in San Francisco beginning in 1951, and eventually moving to ABC network where it ran for many years. The lively LaLanne's business empire of sorts branched out
into exercise equipment, fitness centers and of course the Jack LaLanne Juicer, which he and his wife Marilyn (who survives him) enthusiastically hawked for many
He was also a frequent guest on TV talk shows, basically right up until the end, and continued to make headlines with the physical prowess stunts he performed, usually LaLanne swimming great distances or towing boats through the water using only his incredible strength and fitness ability. Jack was not only a health advocate but also a delightful spokesman for the movement, preferring to inspire his audiences rather than scold them as they took their often first steps to physical fitness. The ESPN Classic cable channel used to rerun his shows years ago, and he was as funny and watchable as ever. There's a great selection of LaLanne videos on YouTube, too, as well as LaLanne's own website.
We've never needed Jack LaLanne more than we do today, but now we're going to have to draw upon his inspiration and memory to goad us into taking fitness and nutrition seriously, but not grimly. He was able to to make fitness seem fun and important, and his message was aimed at all people, young and old, of all shapes. Jack LaLanne was enthusiasm personified, and he will be missed.
Be sure to visit the links included in this article for more information about this charismatic American icon, and also go to his own website which is lots of fun. Jack LaLanne was a national treasure, and an important part of TV's wonderful history.