Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jack LaLanne Dies at Age 96

Jack LaLanne The Godfather of Fitness Passed Away at age 96

Jack LaLanne The Godfather of Fitness shown here fit and healthy at age 94

Jack LaLanne, The godfather of fitness died from respiratory failure due to pneumonia at his at his coastal California home in Morro Bay. He was 96 years of age whe he passed away.

"He was surrounded by his family and passed very peacefully in no distress ... and with the football game on Sunday, so everything was normal," his daughter Yvonne LaLanne, 66, told Reuters.

Only two years ago, LaLanne, still a poster boy for vitality, told PEOPLE MAGAZINE that young stars such as Britney Spears – who was going through physical and emotional problems at the time – needed to "develop pride and discipline" and watch what they put into their bodies, or as he put it: "the right fuel in the machine."

As for keeping body and soul together, "It's got to start with young kids," LaLanne told PEOPLE.

Jack LaLanne, didn't start watching how he lived until he was 15 years old. Born Francois Henri LaLanne in San Francisco (his parents were French immigrants), he felt the effects of sugar and bleached flour in his diet. After hearing a health lecture, he devoted his life to following a diet of raw, unprocessed foods. His staples: two meals a day, no snacks and a healthy dose of old fashioned excercise.

And did he ever exercise, relentlessly. At age 60, noted The New York Times, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf while pulling a 1,000-pound boat – and while handcuffed, as a proving point that convicted felons could have made the swim even handcuffed even though they had been told that the swim from Alcatraz was not possible. At 70, shackled again, he pulled 70 people in 70 boats 1½ miles through Long Beach Harbor.

As he liked to say, "I can't die. It would ruin my image."

LaLanne opened the nation's first modern health club in California's Oakland, in 1936, and it featured exercise equipment, a juice bar and health food store. Eventually this developed into a 100-strong Jack LaLanne gym chain across the country. He would also market a highly successful juicer.

Jack LaLanne doing Finger Tip stretched out Pushups at Age 90
His syndicated TV show, The Jack LaLanne Show, which opened with his performing jumping jacks under the credits in his signature belted jumpsuits, debuted in daytime in 1959 and ran for 34 years, solidifying his reputation. After more than 3,000 shows, LaLanne, who owned all rights, repackaged the program and leased it to ESPN Classic.

Besides his daughter, Yvonne, he is survived by a son, Dan Doyle; his wife, Elaine; and their son, Jon.

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