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Born: January 21, 1926 in Glasgow,
Died: May 1, 2000 in
Escondido, California, U.S.A.
Cause of Death: Complications
Spouse #1: Sandra Smith (January 31,
1955-September 4, 1956)
Spouse #2: Aline Czartjarwicz (June 24, 1963-July 24, 1989) (her
Height: 6' 1"
Measurements (Biceps): 17.5 inches (at age 23)
Measurements (Chest): 48 inches (at age 23)
Measurements (Waist): 29 inches (at age 23)
Weight: 200 pounds (at age 23)
Steve Reeves was born on a cattle ranch in
Montana. Of Welsh, Irish, English, and German descent. His
father died in a farming accident. At six months of age, Steve
won his first fitness title as "Healthiest Baby of Valley
County". Later that year his family moved to California.
Reeves joined the Army. He served in the
Philippines during WWII. At one point he contracted
malaria. His remaining time was served under General MacArthur
during the occupation of Japan. His job was loading boxcars and
trucks. When free time was available, he made good use of the
gym. Steve's body developed rapidly and he decided to pursue
bodybuilding professionally. Following Army service, he won "Mr.
Pacific Coast" in Oregon in 1947 and eventually "Mr. America", "Mr.
World", and in 1950 "Mr. Universe". His entire bodybuilding
career consisted of 6 contests, but he made such an impression that
countless bodybuilder-turned-actors have credited him as their role
model including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, and David Prowse.
His travels took him to New York, where he studied
acting. He soon made his way to Hollywood. His parts were
limited mostly to eye candy roles where he flexed his muscles. He
did, however, snag a role as a detective in director Ed Wood Jr.'s
"Jail Bait" in 1954. Small TV parts came and went. It was a
1954 role in the movie "Athena" as actress Jane Powell's boyfriend that
caught the attention of Italian film director Pietro Francisci.
Pietro was looking for someone to play Hercules in a feature film and
Steve Reeves seemed perfect for the role. Reeves was persuaded
overseas and film history was made.
Reeves loved horses and was a great horse
rider. This was an advantage for Reeves in later work as Italian
film producers found out that they did not have to hire a horse-riding
double for him.
Critics dismissed the "Hercules" film as "muddled
mythology" (which it was, but not in a bad way) and worse (which was
uncalled for), but the public loved it and Reeves became an instant
star. The film was so well received that Reeves would play
Hercules again. But even better than that, Reeves started the
whole craze of musclebound actors playing mythological characters such
as Samson, Ursus, and Colossus. But no one became more popular
for this than Steve Reeves as Hercules.
Steve was happy with his work in the Hercules
movies, but was disappointed that his other movies didn't get much
attention. It's reported that he once remarked: "I only did
two Hercules films, but everyone seems to think I did ten."
After becoming popular in the late 1950s, all sorts
of roles opened up for Reeves, which he refused. Among those
roles are James Bond in "Dr. No" from 1962 and the Man With No Name in
"A Fistful of Dollars" from 1964. Reeves' voice was dubbed in all
of his Italian films. The only films where Reeves' voice is not
dubbed are "Jailbait" and "Athena".
A shoulder injury on the set of a movie forced
Reeves' retirement from the industry, but he kept busy off the set with
a number of projects for the remainder of his life. Steve Reeves
was a big promoter of drug-free bodybuilding. Also, he lived on a
ranch where he bred horses. Lymphoma caught up with him, though,
and he died at age 74.