|Born||in Acri, Calabria, Italy|
|Birth Name||Angelo Siciliano|
Mini Bio (1)
Angelo Siciliano was born in Acri, Italy, and emigrated to the US at age 11 with his family, which settled in Brooklyn, NY. He had always been a frail and sickly child, often picked on by neighborhood kids. One night when he was 15 he was on his way home when he was jumped and severely beaten by a neighborhood bully. Angered and depressed over the incident and feeling powerless because of his weak condition, he brooded over it until one day he caught a look at a statue of the Greek hero Hercules, which he had never seen before. Impressed with the statue's physique, he started attending a local gym to exercise and lift weights in order to make his body stronger. However, he discovered that the more weights he lifted, the more tired he became and the more his muscles and body hurt. While visiting the local zoo one day, he became fascinated with a lion lying in his cage. He wondered how the animal maintained such a powerful, muscular physique while cooped up with virtually no exercise. Then he saw the animal get up and stretch its body. Watching it pit one muscle against the other gave Angelo the idea for a process that was to change the world of bodybuilding forever: "Dynamic Tension".
Employing and refining the principles he observed in the lion--nowadays called "isometrics"--he developed a finely sculpted body, and in 1922 won a national contest to find "The World's Most Perfectly Developed Man" run by publisher and fitness enthusiast Bernarr Macfadden. Someone told Angelo that he looked a lot like the statue of Atlas outside a local bank. It was then that he decided to change his name from Angelo Siciliano to Charles Atlas.
Through a friend he got a job as a "life" model, where artists would pay to draw his body while he posed. He was earning the princely (for the time) sum of $100 a week, and he got the idea that if people would pay money to see him, they would probably pay even more money if he would show them how they could look like him. He began a correspondence course in bodybuilding using his techniques. The business was mildly successful until a friend who worked in an advertising firm gave him some ideas on how to promote his business. Atlas began performing such stunts as pulling six cars chained together for a half-mile, and he once towed a 72-ton railroad engine more than 100 feet along the tracks with a rope. Those kinds of things got him a lot of press coverage, which in turn caused his business to grow exponentially. However, his most famous tactic was the ads that he would run in comic books (whose readership was almost exclusively young teenage males, a prime market for his course) showing a puny man at a beach having his girlfriend taken away by a stronger bully who proceeds to kick sand in his face. Angered and humiliated, the young man sends away for the Charles Atlas course, and in the next panel he's musclebound, buff and goes back to the bully, kicks sand in HIS face and gets his girl back. The ad worked beyond his wildest dreams, and brought him millions of customers from all over the world.
In addition to his bodybuilding course, Atlas also started a string of successful gyms. He practiced what he preached, and even into his 60s was working out in a gym every day, his body sculpted and toned to a degree that put to shame many men half his age.
Charles Atlas died in 1972 at age 79.
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|?||(1925 - 1965) (her death) (2 children)|