JACK LALANNE, Original Fitness Guru Outlasted Other Health Trends



WAS  MUCH MORE THAN HIS  JUICER MACHINE he frequently promoted

Jack LaLanne was/is my hero, for several reasons .  For one, there was the local interest as  he   grew up near my home,  in Berkeley, CA  and had one of the first health clubs in Oakland .   I remember, as a kid, watching his TV program in living black and white. He was older but I loved his spirit and self-assured attitude, something perhaps lacking in myself. He would sing ‘There’s No Tomorrow’ to the melody of “o Solo Mio,’ more familiar to me then as Elvis Presley’s ‘It’s Now or Never.’

Before exercising was popular, Lalanne was perhaps the one guy one could believe in.  He was certainly laughed at, by some,  in the beginning, though he must have had enough believers like me, as he stayed on the air for 34 years from the fifties thru the seventies and has continued to spread his gospel until now thru his spectacles like pulling boats on his birthday,  local appearances and special events.   I even bought not one, but two of his juicing machines just because they were his.   (Actually, I had forgotten I bought the first one  when I bought the second.) Unlike more  recent, trendy, younger, fitness gurus , many of whom LaLanne has outlived, Jack  was all about simple, common sense exercising. It was pushups, sit ups and the like. `Most of the other gurus faded fast, and passed on at younger ages, as LaLanne continued to spread his message. There was Pritikin, of the Pritikin diet and Atkins of the high card diet. Jim Fixx wrote the book how running could keep you fit, only to pass on while he was jogging, at a young age.. Then there was the Power Bar guy who passed at age 51. LaLanne even outlived his local protégé, Norman Marks, who LaLanne helped put in busines with one of the  first health clubs, in Oakland, on Harrison and 14th Street, not far from some property my parents owned; though Marks passed a couple years ago at 86, the club lives on.

With LaLanne there were no gimmicks, other than a simple simple ‘band’ to give one a deeper strectch or a chair to lean on. Sure, he sold some vitamins and the juicer, hailed by some; even if I could never get behind it I still have the box it came in proudly displayed high on a kitchen shelve with Jack smiling down. I remember his TV program, which aired out of San Francisco, which featured just Jack in his jumpsuit, sometimes accompanied by his dog. Organ music would swell when Jack told viewers to breathe out.

Weight Watchers – New Years Resolutions – Lose Weight Weight Watchers


Jack would introduce his straight ahead calisthenics in his confident, fast-talk style and finally sign off with his song. It was the 1950 and early 60s when local TV featured many colorful characters you don’t see any more, such as Al ‘Jaxxbeaux’ Collins and Mayor Art, along with LaLanne. Later, Jack’s popularity spread with national programming, yet LaLanne would always remain true to his California roots and maintain his main home in the seaside mid-state community of Morro Bay, where he was the local celebrity, along with his long-time second wife, Elaine, who would join often join him on specials, such as the recent retrospective on PBS, pubic television.

I loved LaLanne’s dramatic presentations,  like swimming to Alcatraz    on his 60th(?) birthday or pulling a boat for another birthday. He could be brash, saying ‘it’s crazy’ that people can’t devote a half hour for exercise three or four times a week to make them feel better ,healthier and live longer. Without that brashness, his message may not have gained the attention it did.  LaLanne is certainly a testament to that and the words are especially meaningful today with the obesity problem in America.

But Jack LaLanne was/ is a hero to me for a more personal reason. He was the same age as my Dad. I’ve often thought of the two in the same breath, admiring them both, and one couldn’t but help to think about who would outlive the other. Odds would probably have favored Lalanne, what with his healthy diet and two hours of daily exercise. My Dad likes his meat, rarely exercises and his somewhat overweight. However he is a man of moderation, and it goes to show especially now, that perhaps exercise can be a bit over-rated, especially if done in excess. A few years ago, I purchased a plaque from Jack , himself, that hangs proudly on my wall . It features a young Jack with his dog (pictured here), along with a piece of film from his old TV show and a ‘Certificate of Authenticity,’ showing that my plaque was ‘#57’ of limited edition 1,500. Included is the handwritten note, ‘To Burt, Best of Exercise…’ and also signed by Elaine. I will prize this plaque especially now. I’ve been to Jack’s favorite San Francisco haunt, the legendary John’s Grill, where a salad is named after him. I hear the candles are lit tonight in Jacks honor. I will try to pay tribute, myself , over the weekend. One of the last true hnd colorful characters is gone. He will be missed but remembered by some of us and in pages such as www.OldiesCountry.com and http://www.SeniorCountry.org.

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JACK LAlanne

No Stopping DOC SEVERINSON – Last of the Johnny Carson Triumvirate ‘ Working Harder Than Ever’


Johnny Carson Band Leader

There’s No Stopping at 83

Doc Severinson is going stronger than ever. Now living in Mexico, Severinson still tours heavily , has a new CD and says he ‘is now working harder than ever.” ,after trying to retire – which is the thing one’s ‘supposed to do’ at age 79′ Severinson couldn’t stand it. He happened upon a couple ‘ world class trumpeters’ playing a small dive near his new Mexico home and asked them if they’d be interested in working with him. They didn’t know who he was at first, but the rest is history, as they say…

‘I want to be remembered as a guy who played way beyond the age when trum -Doc Severinson , Johnny Carson’s longtime band leader

pet players are not supposed to be able to play anymore.’


(Editor’ s Note: Before we continue with the rest of this remarkable story of a remarkable, if overlooked man today, let me just say that this is just another excample of an older person,a Senior, or Senor , in Mexico, who has been neglected, overlooked, forgotten or however you want to say it – by the folks in the US where he was a star for so many years. Why isn’t this still-talented, interesting and colorful man no longer seen on the Tonight Show, or most other media . Because the media and rest of us have neglected our heros of yesterday. If it weren’t for NPR and the interview you can listen to here, we wouldn’t have known about Severinson’s new projects.

It’s funny that , as much as a recluse Johnny Carson became after retiring, the opposite can be said of Severinson. Ed McMahon, who was the other third of the Tonight Show Gang Leaders also worked until his recent passing at 86.)

Ask Doc about retirement and the answer you will get leaves you with a very clear impression: he is not ready to hang up his horn or his traveling shoes.

Since moving to Mexico at the end of 2006, Doc has kept a busy performance schedule and made new discoveries in two very talented musicians from Mexico. Together with these gentlemen, Doc has crafted an innovative and exciting program.

El Ritmo de la Vida” is, of course, “the rhythm of life,” a very apt description of Gil Gutierrez and Pedro Cartas and their music. It is classical Spanish with a jazz flair, gorgeous ballads, both Latino and American, plus some great movie music,and among their best received — gypsy jazz, a la Django Reinhardt. Each are virtuosos and combined are electric. Add to this the soaring trumpet of Doc (not to mention his wardrobe!) and the experience is indescribably brilliant.

Trumpet Spectacular

‘Doc’ is now a resident of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and first heard Gil and Pedro playing at an Italian bistro to throngs of admirers, both American and Latino. He later recorded a few tunes with them and then immediately asked to join them.
According to ‘Doc’: “I came to Mexico with retirement on my mind, but when I heard them play I knew that I would be playing with them for some time to come. Latino music, along with the blues, has always been among my favorites, and Gil and Pedro do it along with a European style that I love and so do our audiences.
They are mature, gifted young men who play great, look great, and PLUS, we share a great lifestyle together. Our music is totally organic to us.”

 Collectors Choice Music

Recordings from Doc

A Grammy award winner, Doc has made more than 30 albums–from big band to jazz-fusion to classical. Two critically Continue reading “No Stopping DOC SEVERINSON – Last of the Johnny Carson Triumvirate ‘ Working Harder Than Ever’”