1926 - 2000
Though he did not possess a Herculean acting talent, bodybuilder Steve Reeves certainly had a Herculean physique and he made good use of it to play some of filmdom's most famous mythological heroes during the late 50s and early 60s.
Reeves was born on a cattle ranch in Montana on 1926. His father died in a farming accident and at age 6 months won his first fitness title as "Healthiest Baby of Valley County." In 1936 he moved to California where he loaded boxcars and trucks for the Army in between workouts at the gym. His body developed quickly and he decided to pursue bodybuilding professionally. Following Army service, Steve won Mr. Pacific Coast" in Oregon in 1947 and, eventually "Mr. America", "Mr. World" and "Mr. Universe".
This opened doors to New York, where he studied acting, and Hollywood. He didn't get much past playing pectoral background in a number of 50s musicals and costumers, and small parts on TV came his way, but they too were mostly posing or walk-ons. Disappointed, luck finally came his way when an Italian film director saw him play Jane Powell's boyfriend in the film Athena (1954) and persuaded him to go overseas and portray the title role of Hercules (1959) . Though critics dismissed the film as "muddled mythology" (and worse!), the public loved the poorly-dubbed sword-and-sandal epic and Reeves became an "overnight" star. Sequels followed, none any better or worse. Reeves paved the way for other bodybuilders (Ed Fury, Mark Forest, Reg Park) to seek their fame and fortune playing other absurdly muscled myths such as Samson, Ursus, and Colossus, but nobody topped Steve in popularity. A shoulder injury forced his retirement, and he spent the remainder of his life promoting drug-free bodybuilding while living on a ranch and breeding horses.
He died of lymphoma at age 74.
Other websites about Steve Reeveq
The official home page for Steve Reeves
Steve Reeves, the Ultimate Hercules