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Caricature of Charles Atlas (1892-1972)

Charles Atlas

Mail-order male with "Everlasting Health and Strength"
When a brawny Coney Island lifeguard kicked sand in his face and stole away his girlfriend, Italian-born Angelo Siciliano decided to do something about it: He would build up his body. In 1922, Siciliano was dubbed "America's Most Perfectly Developed Man" at a physical culture exhibition at Madison Square Garden. It was then that he decided he needed a new name to go along with his new body. He became Charles Atlas, after the mythological Greek titan who was said to have held up the world. In 1929, Atlas launched his home-study programs of isotonic exercises and nutrition tips. Students for his mail-order course received booklets like this one, which explains the strongman's method of "dynamic tension" bodybuilding.

Charles Atlas (1893-1972)
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Learn more!
· Charles Atlas
· "You Are What You Buy" by Richard and Joyce Wolkomir, "Smithsonian" magazine, October 2000

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