Friday, December 6, 2019

Bodybuilder, Stuntman, & Actor Bert M. Goodrich 1991 Valley Oaks Cemetery

Bert M. Goodrich (born December 26, 1906 in Tempe, Arizona - December 6, 1991 in Sepulveda, North Hills, Los Angeles, California ) was an American bodybuilder who acted as a stuntman and actor. He was also the owner of the first chain of fitness studios in the United States for several years.

Life and Career

Goodrich was born in Tempe, Arizona. He grew up near a river where during his childhood he refined his swimming skills. In his 12th year he was successful as an acrobat; two years later, he won the state championship title of flyweight and diving in Arizona.

That same year, he made the first step into his future life as a bodybuilder and strongman, as the then just 95-pound and slender Bert Goodrich went to Charles Atlas Training and returned after four years weighing 185 pounds.

At this time, however, he did not put much emphasis on bodybuilding, this served him at this time as a means to an end. With his strength training, he wanted to concentrate more on his talents in other sports such as gymnastics, especially tumbling, or American football.

He developed during his later career at Arizona State University to become an excellent sprinter in the 100 -meter run.

He also appeared in other disciplines such as shot put, javelin, and long jump.

At a young age, he boxed as a flyweight boxer, then as he advanced in age, he became a heavyweight boxer. He denied having professional fights at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

In addition, Goodrich was successful as a trapeze artist (100 feet above the ground and without protection by a safety net) and Adagio-Akrobat. He worked together with a partner as a vaudeville artist.

Even before his 20th Birthday, Goodrich went to Hollywood, where he settled down for a short time and had his first appearances in film productions. Due to his athletic background, he worked as a stuntman.

He appeared in Jay Marchant's The Great Circus Mystery in 1925. In the almost 15-minute adventure serial, he acted alongside strongman Joe Bonomo and female lead actress Louise Lorraine. 

In the early 1930s, he returned to Hollywood again, where he worked in such films as The Galloping Ghost (1931), The Hurricane Express (1932), and Tarzan the Fearless (1933) as a stunt double. 

During the shooting breaks, he often entertained at the local vaudeville circuit or was at the Crystal Pier in Santa Monica, the site of the famous Muscle Beach. He also met the vaudevillian Charlie Schaeffer, with whom he created an act, with which they performed throughout the country and brought it to New York, where finally the actual bodybuilding career of Bert Goodrich began. Together with Schaeffer, he entered the top Music Halls from New York, later switching partners and appearing with his new partner, Figure Skating Champion and Balancer Jack Nelson.

During that time, in February 1939, Goodrich also visited his first "Mr. New York "contest, but only as a spectator. However, due to his stature, he was noticed by a photographer in the crowd and convinced himself to participate in the competition. From Sig Klein, the promoter of the competition, he was lent some shorts for posing, so-called trunks, and Goodrich was brought on stage in the "Tall Class Competition." He was finally able to win the overall competition with his 5'11'' height and 195 pound weight. From then on, he was allowed to call himself "Mr. New York." With this title, he was thus automatically qualified for the AAU Mr. America Competition.

There were no fixed regulations at this first competition on July 4, 1939. (These were only introduced during or after the competition.) For example, in the competition of the year 1939 the jury judged the symmetrical proportions, the posture, the general appearance, as well as the stage presence. Goodrich, with the support of his partner Jack Nelson who himself did not participate in the competition, performed a tumbling act. 

Having the title of "Mr. America" increased Goodrich's fame. He appeared on the cover of numerous well-known magazines. He was together with Charles Atlas and Johnny Weissmüller in Esquire.

By winning the "Mr. America's competition, he finally made the leap into show business and enjoyed from then on a celebrity status. The newfound fame also helped Goodrich, along with Vic Tanny, in 1947 to create the "Mr. and Miss USA"competition and to establish it. The event, which was held in front of some 6,000 spectators in the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, was also the first of its kind, since the prize money for the winner was $ 1,000 and prize money had never before been paid in a bodybuilding competition. 

Bert Goodrich organized the so-called "Mr. Hercules" competitions in which Hollywood star Mae West appeared as the juror. The winners of this show were signed by West in their night clubs.

During the Second World War, Bert Goodrich was a Physical Training Instructor (PTI) in the US Navy and was stationed in North Iceland where he was head of the local Navy gym. He became the "Director of Physical training" of the North American Aviation Company in Canoga Park. 

During this time he also met his partner George Redpath, with whom he developed an act as a hand-balance duo, with Goodrich being the lower part of a "two-man hand balance act." 

After leaving the Navy after he had refused knee surgery, he moved back to Los Angeles, where he opened his gym on Hollywood Boulevard in 1946. He called it "the most sumptuous, beautiful gym in the country." It was the first so-called glamour gym that could boast faux leather walls and additional chrome trim. There he trained stars like Fess Parker, Steve Reeves, Bob Mathias, and James Arness. 

He worked as an actor in various film productions, but only in insignificant roles, which were tailored specifically to him. He was in Berlin-Express (1948) as a member of an acrobatic team.  He was also seen in the films Roseanna McCoy (1949) and Alias ​​the Champ (1949). 

In 1954 he played a bodybuilder in the romantic musical comedy Athena

He added six more gyms and his business became the first chain of gyms in the United States. However, all of the seven facilities in California were sold by Goodrich in 1956 and his career shifted to other activities. He worked in public relations, was active as a stockbroker, and became a business developer. 

In the 1960s, he appeared as a guest on numerous US television shows (including To Tell the Truth ) and was also often seen on local television. 

In 1976, at the age of 69, he also took part in the Senior Olympics and was praised by the journalists for having a consistently good pulse and blood pressure despite his age. He completed 75 push-ups every morning until shortly before his death.

In his old age, he learned to play the ukulele and harmonica. He often played in retirement homes and other such facilities. In June 1991, the health of Bert Goodrich worsened. He had to have a large part of his colon removed as this had formed a gangrene.

On December 6, 1991, Goodrich died at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in the San Fernando district of Sepulveda. He left behind his wife Norma (the sister of his longtime partner Vic Tanny) to who was married for almost 50 years, his son Bert Jr., his daughter Lucinda, and two grandchildren. The funeral took place on December 11, 1991 at Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village. His wife Norma survived him for ten years, died in 2001 and was buried at his side.

A few years before his death, he was honored with numerous awards. These included the honoring of the venerable "Association of Old-time Barbell and Strongmen" on May 23, 1987 for his participation in the Mr. America competition of 1939 (which at the time still bore the name America's Best Physique Contest). He also received the "Pioneer of Physical Fitness Award" in 1985 and the "Hollywood Stuntman's Award" one year later.

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