Monday, January 24, 2011


I know, I know--a very irreverant comment on the passing of an icon. But Jack LaLanne was a friend of mine and he would have appreciated it. What a man and what a life! When he died yesterday at the age of 96, it was the passing of an era, and thousands of fans can celebrate their being alive thanks to Jack's teachings.

But Jack didn't only live a long life, he lived it well and was lively and had a zestful energy that few younger people could keep up with. I first met him over 25 years ago at a National Speakers Association convention. But I remember most vividly a time in Las Vegas in 1994. We were both involved with an MLM nutritional company, which was selling some of his vitamin products. He gave one of his dynamic talks to the large gathering, moving constantly around the stage as he spoke. And then he signed books and chatted with fans for about two hours. My girlfriend and I wanted to get away from the crowds, so we picked an off-the-strip Italian restaurant a friend had recommended. Lo and behold, there were Jack and Elaine LaLanne at a table with a romantic candle glowing from a Chianti bottle.

Jack called us over to their table and insisted we join them. I was reluctant as I felt they were trying to have some private time together after being mobbed all day by fans. I told him I didn't want to interrupt his romantic dinner, and he and Elaine laughed. He said, "This is our post-romantic dinner--we made love in our room after the book signing, sit down." It was a delightful visit, though I was surprised that Jack and Elaine, both advocates of very healthy diets, had big Italian meat dinners. At one point, when Jack went to the restroom, Elaine confided in us that she was concerned about his upcoming 80th birthday, and what stunt he would pull to celebrate.

Jack was famous for his birthday feats of strength, usually involving fantastic stunts while swimming. Sure enough, a few months later we read that for his 80th, he had himself handcuffed and shackled, and swam the 1.5 miles from the Queensway Bay Bridge in Long Beach to the Queen Mary--while towing 80 boats carrying 80 people!
Many of these stunts are unlikely to ever be duplicated. And despite lifting weights two hours every day, Jack was not bulging with muscles, he did not resemble his friend Arnold Schwarzenneger in the least, but was probably stronger.

But what I most admired about the man was the romantic twinkle in his eye when he looked at Elaine, and the obvious very physical affection they had for each other. And he inspired many of us when, in an interview, at the age of ninety, he announced that he and Elaine still had a very active sex life.

He lived a full life doing work he loved, and reaching millions with his messages of exercise and healthy eating, and enjoy a storybook marriage. Yes, it's sad he's no longer with us, and my heart goes out to Elaine--but just thinking about him and that irrepressible energy, I can't help but smile.


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