Born today was Charles Atlas,
Bodybuilder chiselled fatless.
He sold the skinny on the mystique
Of sunbathing with his physique.
"Mr. Atlas, whose real name was Angelo Siciliano, arrived at Ellis Island from Italy in 1903 when he was 10 years old. He was often picked on as a boy because of his slight build, and later traced his transformation to two New York spots he visited: the Brooklyn Museum, where he saw a statue of Hercules; and the Prospect Park Zoo, where he was captivated by the sight of a lion stretching its muscles. The lion had visible strength without the use of barbells and machines, and young Angelo concluded that ''he's been pitting one muscle against another.''
So Mr. Siciliano began developing a muscle-strengthening routine that emphasized isometric and isotonic exercises that did not require weights or other equipment. For him, the regimen resulted in a 47-inch chest and a 32-inch waist.
He went on to become a bodybuilder and a model for sculptors. He changed his name to Charles Atlas, and in 1922 was named the World's Most Perfectly Developed Man at a bodybuilding competition at Madison Square Garden. His prize was a screen test for a Tarzan movie, or $1,000. He took the cash, and started selling his exercise program through the mail." [Maria Newman, "New York Times"]