WORLD-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2007-11 > 1196039025
From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [WORLD-OBITS] PARK: Roy Reg Park
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 01:03:45 -0000
Last Updated: 3:05am GMT 24/11/2007
Reg Park, who has died aged 79, was a world-class bodybuilder and was twice
crowned Mr Universe; he was an early influence on Arnold Schwarzenegger and
appeared in five "sword-and-sandal" films.
Reg Park [left] with Arnold Schwarzenegger,
whom he mentored
With striking looks and a Herculean physique - two feet wide at the
shoulders, 32-inch waist and biceps measuring 18 and a half inches - Park
was 21 when he won the Mr Britain title in 1949. He then spent six months in
the United States, where the publisher Joe Weider began to feature him in
magazines such as Your Physique, Mr America, Muscle Power and Flex.
Runner-up to Steve Reeves in the 1950 National Amateur Bodybuilders'
Association Mr Universe competition, Park broke the American monopoly on the
title by winning it the following year. He went on to win the NABBA
professional Mr Universe crown in 1958 and again in 1965.
At 6ft 2in and a top weight of 250lbs, Park was renowned for his prodigious
strength and often demonstrated his prowess in public performances. He was
one of the first bodybuilders to combine massive strength with acting
ability, good looks and charisma.
After his marriage in 1952 Park moved permanently to South Africa, where he
ran a chain of fitness studios. In December 1960 he was invited to Rome to
star in two back-to-back Hercules films, Ercole alla conquista di Atlantide
and Ercole al centro della terra (both 1961).
Since these were directed by the acclaimed veterans Vittorio Cottafavi and
Mario Bava, Park became something of a cult personality in the Italian epic
genre. His friend and protg Arnold Schwarzenegger considered Park to be
the best of the "peplum" (sword-and-sandal) heroes.
Three more sword-and-sandal films followed, including Maciste nelle miniere
di re Salomone (1964) which, conveniently for Park, was filmed on location
in South Africa.
Roy Park, always known as Reg, was born on June 7 1928 in Leeds, the son of
a gymnasium proprietor and owner of the Reg Park Barbell Company. Reg was a
natural athlete and a strong sprinter, but as a teenager his first love was
football and he turned out for Leeds United before being sidelined through
While recuperating he chanced on a copy of Strength and Health magazine.
Inspired by the beefcake pictures, he often trained in his parents' garden
in sub-zero temperatures with a pair of heavy dumbbells and wearing several
layers of thermal clothing.
Park made a third attempt to win Mr Universe in 1970 but lost to Arnold
Schwarzenegger in a closely-fought contest. Park's massive size and acting
talent impressed film producers, who signed him to appear in several
pictures in the 1960s, including the Hercules movies, for which his powerful
physique was perfectly suited. Driven by heavy workouts, Park followed a
routine that called for a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs a day.
When film roles dried up, he returned to South Africa but travelled the
world performing feats of strength and guest-posing. With his wife, Mareon,
a former ballerina, he developed a new style of posing, incorporating the
kind of artistry demanded by her profession.
After the stolid and uninspiring poses of the 1960s, Park's new style, with
its fluid transitions and gracefulness of movement combined with classical
poses, became the standard in the sport.
Reg Park, who died on Thursday, is survived by his wife and by their son and
|[WORLD-OBITS] PARK: Roy Reg Park by "Peter McCrae" <>|