Macfadden & Charles Atlas

In 1921 Macfadden ran a contest in Physical Culture Magazine for the "World's Most Handsome Man." A young man named Angelo Siciliano who used the name "Charles Atlas" entered the contest by submitting photographs and was subsequently invited to meet Bernarr Macfadden who selected him as the clear winner.

Charles Atlas in Physical Culture Magazine

Atlas had been a skinny, weak kid who worked hard to build a muscular physique. Physical Culture Magazine was his source of inspiration. The story is that he was given the name Atlas by friends who thought he looked like the figure of Atlas holding the world that was in front of the Atlas Hotel in New York City.

The following year he won another Macfadden contest, "The World's Most Perfectly Developed Man," held in Madison Square Garden. Macfadden announced there would be no more contests, because Atlas would win all of them. He declared Atlas the permanent winner and the perfect example of his physical culture methods.

Soon after winning the contests, Atlas began to sell a mail-order bodybuilding course which he called "Dynamic Tension" - a forerunner of isometric exercises. The Atlas course became famous and is still sold today.

Many years before Atlas began to sell his course, Macfadden had demonstrated tensing and resistence exercises both in his Physical Culture Magazine and also in his 1906 book "Muscular Power and Beauty." There is compelling evidence that Macfadden helped Atlas succeed by providing him with the material to create his famous course as well as the contacts for marketing it. Atlas offered a free 64-page booklet called "Secrets of Muscular Power and Beauty" in his advertisements - a title borrowed directly from Macfadden's 1906 book. A lot of the text from this booklet was adapted from the Macfadden book.

From an early ad in 1925

A full-page ad from the 1930's once success had been gained

A famous advertisement for his course

In addition, Atlas worked as a model for artists and sculptors. He posed for a number of famous works of art.

Charles Atlas lived a happy and robust life. He died in 1972 at age 79.

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