Charles Atlas (born Angelo Siciliano; October 30, 1892 – December 24, 1972) was an Italian-American bodybuilder best remembered as the developer of a bodybuilding method and its associated exercise program which spawned a landmark advertising campaign featuring his name and likeness; it has been described as one of the longest-lasting and most memorable ad campaigns of all time.
Atlas trained himself to develop his body from that of a "scrawny weakling", eventually becoming the most popular bodybuilder of his day. He took the name "Charles Atlas" after a friend told him that he resembled the statue of Atlas on top of a hotel in Coney Island and legally changed his name in 1922. He marketed his first bodybuilding course with health and fitness writer Dr. Frederick Tilney in November 1922. The duo ran the company out of Tilney's home for the first six months. In 1929, Tilney sold his half of the business to advertising man Charles P. Roman and moved to Florida, until his death in 1972. Charles Atlas Ltd. was founded in 1929 and, as of 2015, continues to market a fitness program for the "97-pound weakling" (44 kg). The company is now owned by Jeffrey C. Hogue.
Atlas c. 1920
October 30, 1892
|Died||December 24, 1972 (aged 80)|
Angelo Siciliano was born in Acri, Cosenza on October 30, 1892. Angelino, as he was also called, moved to Brooklyn, New York, in 1904, and eventually became a leather worker. He tried many forms of exercise initially, using weights, pulley-style resistance, and gymnastic-style calisthenics. Atlas claimed that they did not build his body. He was inspired by other fitness and health advocates who preceded him, including world-renowned strongman Eugen Sandow and Bernarr MacFadden (a major proponent of "Physical Culture"). He was too poor to join the local YMCA, so he watched how exercises were performed, then performed them at home. He attended the strongman shows at Coney Island, and would question the strongmen about their diets and exercise regimens after the show. He would read Physical Culture magazine for further information on health, strength, and physical development, and finally developed his own system of exercises which was later called 'Dynamic Tension,' a phrase coined by Charles Roman.
A bully kicked sand into Siciliano's face at a beach when he was a youth, according to the story that he always told. At this time in his life, also according to the story, he weighed only 97 pounds (44 kg). According to several stories and claims, he was at the zoo watching a lion stretch when he thought to himself, "Does this old gentleman have any barbells, any exercisers?...And it came over me....He's been pitting one muscle against another!" None of the exercises in the Dynamic Tension course could be attributed to how lions use their bodies. Other exercise courses of the time contained exercises similar to Atlas's course, particularly those marketed by Bernarr McFadden and Earle E. Liederman.
Bernarr MacFadden, publisher of the magazine Physical Culture, dubbed Siciliano "America's Most Handsome Man" in 1921, and "Americas Most Perfectly Developed Man" in a 1922 contest held in Madison Square Garden He soon took the role of strongman in the Coney Island Circus Side Show. Nowhere did Atlas win a title proclaiming him to be the world's most perfectly developed man.
In 1922, 30-year-old Siciliano officially changed his name to Charles Atlas, as it sounded much more American. He met Dr. Frederick Tilney, a British homeopathic physician and course writer who was employed as publisher Bernarr MacFadden's "ideas man." Atlas and Tilney met through MacFadden, who was using Atlas as a model for a short movie entitled "The Road to Health." Atlas wrote a fitness course and then asked Tilney to edit it. Tilney agreed and Atlas went into business in 1922.
Atlas' "Dynamic Tension" program consists of twelve lessons and one final perpetual lesson. Each lesson is supplemented with photos of Atlas demonstrating the exercises. Atlas' lesson booklets added commentary that referred to the readers as his friends and gave them an open invitation to write him letters to update him on their progress and stories. His products and lessons have sold millions, and Atlas became the face of fitness. Among the people who took Atlas' course were Max Baer, heavyweight boxing champion from 1934 to 1935; Rocky Marciano, heavyweight boxing champion from 1952 to 1956; Joe Louis, heavyweight boxing champion from 1937 to 1949; British heavyweight weightlifting champion and Darth Vader actor David Prowse; and Allan Wells, the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games 100 meter champion.
Besides photographs, Atlas posed for many statues throughout his life. These included Alexander Stirling Calder's Washington at Peace (1917–18) on the Washington Square Arch, Manhattan; Pietro Montana's Dawn of Glory (1924) in Highland Park, Brooklyn (sometimes misreported as Prospect Park); and James Earle Frazer's Alexander Hamilton (1923) at the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington, D.C.
Atlas began to experience chest pains after exercising during his final years, resulting in his hospitalization in December 1972. He died from a heart attack in the hospital on December 24, 1972 in Long Beach, New York at age 80. He left behind a son, Charles Jr., and a daughter, Diana. His wife, Margaret, had died seven years before. Nunziato Siciliano, Atlas' father, who had returned to Italy shortly after arriving in the USA in 1903, lived into his 90s. Atlas' son, Charles Jr., died in August 2008 at the age of 89.
The famous Charles Atlas print advertisements became iconic mostly because they were printed in cartoon form from the 1930s on, and in many comic books from the 1940s onwards – in fact continuing long after Atlas' death. The typical scenario, usually expressed in comic strip form, presented a skinny young man (usually accompanied by a female companion) being threatened by a bully. The bully pushes down the "97-pound weakling" and the girlfriend joins in the derision. The young man goes home, gets angry (usually demonstrated by his kicking a chair), and sends away for the free Atlas book. Shortly thereafter, the newly muscled hero returns to the place of his original victimization, seeks out the bully, and beats him up. He is rewarded by the swift return of his girlfriend and the admiration of onlookers.
The ad was said to be based on an experience the real Atlas had as a boy. With variations, it was a mainstay of comic books and boys' magazines for decades. The ads usually conclude with the words "As is true of all the exercises in Atlas's course, you can do these exercises almost anywhere."
Charles Atlas slogans used in advertising copyrighted in 1932 included "Battle Fought in Bed that made Fred a He-Man!", "Insult that Made a Man out of Mac", and "Let Me Give You a Body that Men Respect and Women Admire!". Slogans copyrighted the following year included "97 pound weakling... Who became the World's Most Perfectly Developed Man", and "Just Seven Days that's All I Need".
In this, the full-length version, the protagonist, "Mac," is accosted on the beach by a sand-kicking bully while his date watches. Humiliated, the young man goes home and, after kicking a chair and gambling a three-cent stamp, subscribes to Atlas's "Dynamic-Tension" program. Later, the now muscular protagonist goes back to the beach and beats up the bully, becoming the "hero of the beach." His girl returns while other women marvel at how big his muscles are. (An earlier but otherwise almost identical version, "How Joe's Body Brought Him Fame Instead of Shame," debuted in the 1940s).
In this version, which debuted in 1941, "Joe" is at a fair with his girl when the bully (who has just shown his strength with the "Ring-the-Bell" game) insults and pushes him. Joe goes home, slams his fist on the table, and orders the free Atlas book. Joe then returns to the fair, rings the bell, and pushes down the bully while his girlfriend reappears to compliment him on his new, powerful physique.
The condensed, four-panel version stars "Joe," though it is otherwise identical to Mac's story. Instead of "Hero of the beach," the words floating above Joe's head are "What a man!"
Another version of the ad presents a scenario in which "Jack" is dancing with his girl, Helen. They are bumped into by a bully, who comments on how puny Jack is, not even worth beating up. Jack goes home, kicks a chair, and sends away for Atlas's "free book." Later, the muscular Jack finds the bully, punches him, and wins back the admiration of Helen. This time, the words "Hit of the party" float over his head as he basks in the admiration of the other dancers.
A bronze statue of Alexander Hamilton by James Earle Fraser, dedicated on May 17, 1923, is found on the south patio (Alexander Hamilton Place, NW) of the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington, D.C.Aubade
An aubade is a morning love song (as opposed to a serenade, which is in the evening), or a song or poem about lovers separating at dawn. It has also been defined as "a song or instrumental composition concerning, accompanying, or evoking daybreak".In the strictest sense of the term, an aubade is a song from a door or window to a sleeping woman. Aubades are generally conflated with what are strictly called albas, which are exemplified by a dialogue between parting lovers, a refrain with the word alba, and a watchman warning the lovers of the approaching dawn.The aubade gained in popularity again with the advent of the metaphysical fashion. John Donne's poem "The Sunne Rising" is an example of the aubade in English. Aubades were written from time to time into the 18th and 19th century. In the 20th century, the focus of the aubade shifted from the genre's original specialized courtly love context into the more abstract theme of a human parting at daybreak. In this reformulated context several notable aubades were published in the 20th century, such as "Aubade" by Philip Larkin. French composers of the turn of the 20th century wrote a number of aubades. In 1883, the French composer Emmanuel Chabrier composed an "Aubade" for piano solo, inspired by a four-month visit to Spain. Maurice Ravel included a Spain-inspired aubade entitled "Alborada del gracioso" in his 1906 piano suite Miroirs. An aubade is the centerpiece of Erik Satie's 1915 piano suite Avant-dernières pensées. The composer Francis Poulenc later wrote (in concerto form) a piece titled Aubade; it premiered in 1929.In 2014, postmodern dancer and choreographer Douglas Dunn presented a piece titled Aubade, with costumes, video and lighting by Charles Atlas (artist), and poetry by Anne Waldman.Bernarr Macfadden
Bernarr Macfadden (born Bernard Adolphus McFadden, August 16, 1868 – October 12, 1955) was an American proponent of physical culture, a combination of bodybuilding with nutritional and health theories. He also founded the long-running magazine publishing company Macfadden Publications. He was the predecessor of Charles Atlas and Jack LaLanne, and has been credited with beginning the culture of health and fitness in the United States.Calabrian diaspora
Notable Calabrian Diaspora
The term Calabrian Diaspora refers to the migration of Calabrians away from Calabria (Southern Italy). It is estimated that five million Italians emigrated to the U.S. between the unification of Italy around 1870 and the Great Depression around 1930. World War I in 1914 marked a surge in the level of immigration. Italians continued to leave Italy in sizable numbers, notably during the periods between World Wars I and II, and again after World War II ended in 1945, a period of immigration that lasted into the 1980s.Charles Atlas (artist)
Charles Atlas is a video artist and film director who also does lighting and set design.
He is a pioneer in developing media-dance, also called dance for camera. Media dance is work that is created directly for the camera. While Atlas’ primary artistic medium is video, he also began to experiment with live electronic performance in 2003. Atlas worked collaboratively with Merce Cunningham from 1975 to 1981. Before his time as the Cunningham company’s filmmaker-in-residence (1978 – 1983), when he made 10 dance films, Atlas was an assistant stage manager for the company, and was already filming Cunningham in little experimental movement studies during breaks from rehearsal. Following his work with Cunningham, he worked independently in film while collaborating with other professionals in the field.Charles Atlas (disambiguation)
Charles Atlas (1892–1972) bodybuilder.
Charles Atlas may also refer to:
Charles Atlas (artist), video artist and film director
"Charles Atlas", song by AFI from their album Very Proud of YaColonel Crackpot's Circus
Colonel Crackpot's Circus was a British comic strip, published from 1960 until 1963 in The Beano. It was the first Beano comic strip drawn by Malcolm Judge, who later went on to draw Billy Whizz and Ball Boy for the same comic, as well as The Numskulls for The Beezer.
The strip was about a circus and the slapstick adventures of the circus folk and often involved Colonel Crackpot (the circus ringleader) trying not to pay his workforce what they were worth. In its Beano incarnation the main characters were Colonel Crackpot (the ringleader), Charlie Globes (the strong man, his name is a play on Charles Atlas) and Cynthia the fat lady.The comic strip was later revived in The Dandy, under the title Pinky's Crackpot Circus, in a strip drawn by Nick Brennan and later drawn by Gary Northfield. This revival first appeared in October 2003. Characters during this time included Pinky, the ringleader, Spanky and Blotto the clowns, Brenda the bearded lady, Rick the human cannonball, Thomas the tightrope walker Lenny the lion tamer and Mehmet the elephant.Dynamic Tension
"Dynamic Tension" is the name Charles Atlas gave to the system of physical exercises that he first popularized in the 1920s.
Dynamic Tension is a self-resistance exercise method which pits muscle against muscle. The practitioner tenses the muscles of a given body part and then moves the body part against the tension as if a heavy weight were being lifted. Dynamic Tension exercises are not merely isometrics, since they call for movement. Instead, the method comprises a combination of exercises in three disciplines: isotonic, isokinetic, and some exercises in the isometric discipline.
Proponents assert that it is nearly impossible to be injured during exercise using this method because one's own muscles provide the force and, as they tire, so the force used also decreases. Likewise, the benefits can continue beyond the more traditional exercise methods because as the practitioner grows stronger, the exercise becomes more intense.
"Dynamic Tension" is a registered trademark of Charles Atlas, Ltd.Flex Mentallo
Flex Mentallo is a comic book character created by writer Grant Morrison and artist Richard Case in 1990, during their run on Doom Patrol. Flex is in part a parody of Charles Atlas' long-running "The Insult that made a Man out of Mac" advertisements seen in American comics from the past.
In 1996, Flex Mentallo appeared in a self-titled, four-issue miniseries written by Morrison and illustrated by Frank Quitely. The miniseries forms part of what Morrison calls a thematic hypersigil trilogy along with The Invisibles and The Filth.Jeffrey C. Hogue
Jeffrey C. Hogue is the current president of Charles Atlas, Ltd. He also owns the rights to a number of films, as well as Majestic International Pictures, Inc.In 1999, he ran as an independent General Assembly of New Jersey, to represent part of Bergen County. His slogan was "Sworn to Reform".Mr. Hogue produced a number of low-budget films, including Warcat, Alienator, and Soldier's Fortune. In each of these films he also played a minor supporting acting role.
Hogue is interviewed in a Charles Atlas documentary screened on the USA cable network Arts & Entertainment channel.Michael Clark (dancer)
Michael Duncan Clark CBE (born June 1962) is a Scottish dancer and choreographer.Scorcher (magazine)
Scorcher was the name of a football-themed British comic magazine published by IPC between January 1970 and June 1971. In July 1971, it joined with another football-themed comic, Score, to form Scorcher and SCORE, before finally merging into Tiger to become TIGER and Scorcher. The word Scorcher started with almost equal prominence to TIGER on the title page, but as usually happens with such mergers the title size was reduced in November 1975, and again in February 1978 before finally being dropped from the title of the comic after the issue dated 30 August 1980. Scorcher featured various well-known comic strips, such as Billy's Boots, Bobby of the Blues and Lags Eleven, a story about a prison football team. In addition, the Nipper story was absorbed from Score comic and Hot Shot Hamish made its first appearance in the Scorcher and SCORE period. Some of these stories later found homes in Roy of the Rovers in addition to Tiger.
IPC Magazines, the publishers of Scorcher, always referred to it as a "paper" rather than a comic in its editorials, to distinguish it from more child oriented publications such as The Beano or The Dandy. In addition to its realistic and comedic football themed stories, it contained factual items about British professional football, and advertisements not only for contemporary toys, games and confectionery, but also others aimed at an older readership, such as for the Charles Atlas body building method, and recruitment advertisements for the Police, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.Scott Solter
Scott Solter is a recording engineer, record producer, mixer, remixer and musician. As a producer and mixer, Solter has worked with numerous indie rock artists, including Bombadil, John Vanderslice, Superchunk, Okkervil River, The Mountain Goats, Erik Friedlander, The Balustrade Ensemble, Pattern is Movement, Two Gallants, Boxharp, Lost In The Trees, The Forms, Broken Arm Trio, Michael Zapruder, The Caribbean, Centro-matic, Division Day, Alex Turnquist, Liam Singer, The Court and Spark, Charles Atlas, Tarental, Mike Patton, Fred Frith, and Zeena Parkins.
Solter has released two solo albums — The Brief Light, One River — remixed numerous works of other artists—and is a member of Boxharp.St. John Cemetery (Queens)
St. John Cemetery is an official Roman Catholic burial ground located in Middle Village in the Queens borough of New York City. It is one of nine official Roman Catholic burial grounds in the New York Metropolitan Area. St. John, along with St. Charles/Resurrection Cemeteries in Farmingdale, Long Island, is among the largest cemeteries in New York State. Since its opening, St. John has been the resting place of various famous and infamous people in New York City society, such as Mario Cuomo (1932–2015), Governor of the state of New York from 1983–1995, John F. Hylan (1868–1936), mayor of the city of New York from 1918–1925, Geraldine Ferraro (1935–2011), the first female Vice Presidential candidate representing a major American political party, Lucky Luciano (1897–1962), considered the father of modern organized crime in the United States, and John J. Gotti (1940–2002), the head of the New York City based Gambino crime family from 1985–2002.
Also buried here are fitness guru Charles Atlas (1893–1972), slain NYPD police officer Rafael Ramos (1974–2014), and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (1946–1989).The Shops at Atlas Park
The Shops at Atlas Park is an open-air lifestyle center located in the Glendale neighborhood of Queens, New York City, United States. The center is located at the intersection of Cooper Avenue and 80th Street.
The Shops at Atlas Park was opened in April 2006 by ATCO Properties, encompassing the site of the former 25-acre (100,000 m2) Atlas Terminals industrial park, both of which were named after bodybuilder Charles Atlas who resided in nearby Middle Village.Top of the World (1997 film)
Top of the World is a 1997 film directed by Sidney J. Furie and starring Peter Weller, Dennis Hopper and Tia Carrere. It also features David Alan Grier, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Peter Coyote and Joe Pantoliano. The plot is set in Las Vegas.Turning (film)
Turning, full title Turning: A Film by Charles Atlas and Antony is a documentary musical art film by video artist Charles Atlas based on a stage collaboration Atlas had with British-American artist Antony Hegarty and her band The Johnsons.World War I Memorial (East Providence, Rhode Island)
The World War I Memorial is a bronze sculpture by Pietro Montana and is located at the intersection of Taunton Avenue, Whelden Avenue, and John Street in East Providence, Rhode Island, United States. The sculpture is modeled on Charles Atlas and depicts a dynamically posed soldier standing on a granite base. Montana's original design was modified by the East Providence Memorial Committee for being "too brutal". Dedicated on July 30, 1927, Major General Charles Pelot Summerall gave an address which highlighted the handicap placed upon the soldiers by a lack of preparedness and "invoked the fighting ideal embodied by Montana's doughboy." The World War I Memorial was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.