Sixty-years ago, Bob Mizer was a young photographer, getting his start on the Muscle Beach circuit. Before beefcake and pornography, before steroids and gym bunnies, before Physique Pictorial and raids on the AMG compound, Bob was happy to train his lens on the bulging exteriors of America’s fitest physiques. He is rumored to have setup studio in a beach front apartment, where he would bring the flexing beauties for their close ups. In pursuit of the world’s biggest bodybuilders, he encountered everyone from fitness guru, Jack LaLanne to California’s governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It was during this period that he shot the 1949 Mr. USA competition. If you’re big into muscle men you might notice this particular Mr. USA as a seminal moment in pre-steroid bodybuilding culture. Many of the contestants at the 1949 iteration would go on to become legends in their fields, among them, Armand Tanny, featured above (second contestant from right). Unfortunately, Armand died earlier this month. Armand, whose brother Vic is known for introducing a democratic approach to gym membership, died Saturday April, 4 at a nursing facility in Westlake Village. At 90 years old, he was the last surviving contestant of the five top-ranked 1949 Mr. USA contestants (pictured above).
Photo by Bob Mizer. 1949 Mr. USA contestants (from left to right): John Grimeck (1st Place), Steve Reeves (3rd Place), George Eiferman (4th Place), Armand Tanny (5th Place), and Clarence Ross (2nd Place)