Friday, January 21, 2011

Remembering Steve Reeves

Steve Reeves was born on a farm in Glasgow, Montana on January 21, 1926. His father was killed in a farming accident and the family moved to Oakland, California where Steve attended high school and became involved in weightlifting. Reeves joined the army after graduation and continued his weight lifting during off hours. After his enlistment ended he turned to bodybuilding as a profession and won the titles of Mr. Pacific Coast (1946), Mr. America (1947), Mr. World (1948) and Mr. Universe (1950). Reeves then decided to pursue an acting career and moved to New York and then onto Hollywood. After turning down the lead in Cecil B. DeMille’s “Sampson and Delilah” (1949), because he was asked to lose 15 lbs of muscle, he landed a small role as a detective in Ed Wood’s “Jail Bait” (1954) and a few parts on TV shows. His luck changed when Pietro Francisci saw him in “Athena” (1954) and persuaded him to come to Italy and star in “Hercules” (1958). Although critically admonished, it was a huge box-office smash and led to a new genre in film making. He followed “Herucles” with a series of films such as “Hercules Unchained”, “The White Warrior”, “Goliath and the Barbarians”, “Giant of Marathon” and “The Last Days of Pompeii” all in 1959. This genre also paved the way for other beefcake actors to seek their fame in films. Reeves was an accomplished horseman and did many of his own stunts before injuring his shoulder. Giovanni Cianfriglia (aka Ken Wood) [1935- ] was hired to be Steve’s stand-in for many of his films. Reeves last film appearance was his only Euro-western, “A Long Ride from Hell” (1968) for which he also wrote the screenplay. Steve retired to raise horses in Escondido and died there of cancer on May 1, 2000. Today we remember one of the great film personalities Steve Reeves on what would have been his 85th birthday.

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