I Didn’t Know Jack

But, like millions of Americans, I felt like I did.  As a kid, I remember always seeing him on the TV, talking about how much better we’d feel if we did some exercise.  Jack LaLanne (la-LAYNE) was continuously doing stunts into his older years, just to demonstrate the benefits of being in shape. See his bio on Wikipedia to see ’em all, but one included him swimming and towing 70 life boats for one mile at the age of 70.

I grew up with a front seat to the birth of our current obese American society.  While Jack was on TV talking about fitness, new “fast food” places were opening up like McDonald’s and their 19-cent hamburgers and Der Weinerschnitzels with their 10 hot dogs for $1.  As Americans became more sedentary, President Kennedy warned us about becoming lazy slobs.  He started a President’s Council on Physical Fitness.  Exercise was introduced in schools–jumping jacks, jump rope, etc.

On TV, Jack made it look easy and invited you to come along.  He also lectured against fast foods and talked about making sure your body got the right nutrients.  He hawked something called “Tiger Juice” for a while and was among the first  to promote juicers.  All the while, wearing that trademark body suit, or the occasional tank top to show off his biceps.

He wanted to be taken seriously, but quick to make you laugh. When asked about sex, he had a standard joke, saying that despite their advanced age, he and his wife still made love almost every night: “Almost on Monday, almost on Tuesday, almost on Wednesday…”

He often said, “I can’t die, it would ruin my image.”  Jack, you’d be happy to know that it didn’t happen.  You were one of those people very visible in my life that, sadly, really could have been used by a generation that never knew you.

You made every tick of your 96 years count. Nicely done.

Tim Hunter

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