Dan Lurie – For Real

by Tom Ryan

(Webmaster’s note: Occasionally posts are made on the USAWA Discussion Forum that deserve to be seen by more than just those that follow the forum, and this post by Tom Ryan regarding Dan Lurie is one of those.  A while back Dennis Mitchell wrote a nice bio story on Dan Lurie, and these were the followup comments made by Tom Ryan, which included a few pictures he emailed to me.  Thanks Tom for providing this interesting information!)

Dan Lurie Bent Pressing Miss California.

I did want to add a few comments to supplement Dennis’s article on Dan Lurie.

Dan has both a website and a Wikipedia entry and I have observed that the latter is updated almost immediately when someone passes away. So I am pretty sure that Dan is still alive — at the age of 89.

I recall seeing Lurie appear on TV each week in the early or mid-1950s as “Sealtest Dan, the Muscle Man” on the Sealtest Big Top show. He can be seen in this YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZldsSnESew at about the 6:25 mark doing some overhead presses on the show, in what amounts to a commercial for Sealtest milk. There is also an interview of him, conducted a few years ago, here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbHKzhpZ61c

Sealtest Dan, The Muscle Man

During the late 1950s, when I was getting started in weight training, he had a mail order catalog that included a photo of him bent pressing Miss California. Now we know that Dave Whitley goes around bent pressing women when they are vertical, but Lurie did it when they were more like horizontal.

I had a copy of that catalog but I no longer have it. Although I am not a big collector of strength memorabilia, I do some collecting, so about 10 years ago I contacted Lurie’s son in an attempt to obtain a copy of that catalog, or at least the photo. He knew what photo I was referring to but they no longer had either the catalog or the photo. He did send me a photo of his father bent pressing some other woman, however, as Lurie may have made a habit of this. LOL

Dan Lurie Bent Pressing a man that weighs around 200 pounds.

Fortunately, one of my collector friends has the catalog and sent me the photo and a photo of the cover of the catalog. I also have a photo of Lurie bent pressing a young man of maybe 200 pounds that presumably occurred on the TV show. I am e-mailing these photos to Al.

Now about Lurie’s claim that he bent pressed 285. That would be a prodigious bent press for someone his size and I doubt if he ever lifted that much. John Y. Smith also weighed 168 (same as Lurie) when he bent pressed a dumbbell weighing 275.5 and Willoughby claimed that was equivalent to doing 313 with a barbell. Lurie was not in the same league with Smith as a strongman, however.

Lurie does, however, deserve a prominent place in history as a bodybuilder, promoter of physique contests, entrepreneur (I still have some Lurie barbell plates), and TV strongman performer.

Dan Lurie

by Dennis Mitchell

Dan Lurie

Dan Lurie was born in Brooklyn New York, April 1, 1923.  Doctors soon found that he had a hole in his heart, and told his parents that he would not live very long. However Dan did live. and growing up he took part in the normal activities that boys his age did. At age thirteen he got interested in boxing and started training in order to enter in the Golden Gloves.  A pre-fight exam found that he had a heart murmur and he and was not allowed to compete. It was at this time that he met former boxer turned body builder, Terry Robinson.  Terry convinced him to switch body building.  Not to long after Dan entered his first physique contest and placed last. Not giving up he continued to train and in 1942 entered the AAU Mr.America contest and won Most Muscular, and took a second place. He also won several best body parts.

At the height of 5′ 5.5″ and weighing 165 pounds, he had a 46″ chest (expanded 47.75″), 16.75″ arms, 12.5″ fore arms, 16″ neck, 21.5″ thighs, and 15 5 ” calves.  He was very good at endurance lifting and did 1,665 pushups in ninety minutes, 1,225 parallel bar dips in ninety minutes, and 1,200 pullovers with 55 pounds.  He could leg press 1,230 pounds, and did a back lift of 1,810 pounds.  His most outstanding lift was a 285 pound bent press while weighing 168 pounds.

Dan continued entering the AAU Mr. America Contests, winning most muscular, and body parts but always came in second in the Mr. America. He was then not permitted to enter any further AAU contest as he was declared to be a professional, because his picture was used in some of Joe Weiders ads. Although he could no longer compete, he stayed active as a meet promoter. He opened his first gym in 1943 in Brooklyn New York, and in time had eight gyms in New York and one in Florida.  He also published a magazine called Muscle Training Illustrated.  H also promoted magazines on boxing, wrestling, karate, rock and role music, and a ladies magazine.  Dan once performed on CBS TV on a Saturday morning circus show for children.  He made and sold his own weightlifting equipment along with his body building course. It was Dan who ran the first IFBB (International Federation of Body Builders) contest in New York.  Later the Weider organization used the IFBB in their organization.

I have not been able to find a death notice or current address for Dan. He would be 87 years old.