Here’s a look at the storefront and an early advertisement for Bill Pearl’s Gym in Sacramento, California, circa 1957. This location started out as part of the “American Health Studios” chain but when AHS ceased operation suddenly in 1959 (not unexpected in the health club biz), Bill took it over fully. If you know where to look for it, the building is actually still there!
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It’s common knowledge that Bill Pearl handily won the 1953 NABBA (National Amateur Body-Builders’ Association) Mr. Universe contest but what most people don’t realize is that also competing in the contest was a young fellow from Scotland by the name of Sean Connery — yes THAT Sean Connery! James Bond himself is fourth from the left in the above picture in the white trunks. FYI, he did not place in the top five in the tall class.
Bill Pearl is one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, having won many different bodybuilding titles over his colorful career. Something you may not realize though is that Bill also began performing traditional feats of strength such as license plate ripping (pictured), chain breaking, spike bending, card tearing and even Nail Driving because he “felt that he should BE as strong as he looked.” I don’t think we’ll see his ilk again any time soon.
A look at the July, 1964 issue of Joe Weider’s Muscle Builder magazine featuring a young but very massive Dave Draper. Other articles include: “How I Use The Top Muscle-Building Technique to Build My 19″ Arms,” by Freddy Ortiz, “Here’s The Top Muscle-Building Technique That Made Me a Champion” by Reg Park, “The Muscle-Building Wisdom of Bill Pearl,” and “Harold Poole’s Mr. Universe Powerhouse Diet Secrets Revealed.”