IronMan, Vol 9, No 3, Page 6, May 1949

1949 "Mr. U.S.A." Contest

And "Miss U.S.S." Contest

by Peary Rader

ON March 26th Vic Tanny and Bert Goodrich presented the greatest physique contest the world has been privileged to see. We make this statement for one reason. For years we have been having physique contests and until now not one has had all the top men competing together. It has been generally conceeded by most bodybuilders and weightlifters that there are three top men in the world today (there are a few who hold different opinions, but as editors of a world wide publication, our mail indicates these three share the top of the ladder. They are Steve Reeves, John Grimek, and Clarence. Ross. During the past few years much discussion has been prevalent and much controversy has arisen over who is the best built man of the three. Grimek had defeated Reeves in London at the Mr. Universe contest and Ross had defeated Reeves in last year's Mr. U.S.A. contest. Still there were many who felt Reeves was the best built of the three (and still do for that mater, as everyone has his favorite). Two factions had held that their favorites either Grimek or Ross was best. For a time it appeared that the three would never be brought together for a final and decisive contest. However, this dream of every bodybuilder was finally realized when at last they all came together at the great Mr. U.S.A. contest. It was the opinion of the promoters that they would never be able to reassemble so great a field of high class competitors again for many years. This feeling was probably shared by every member of the large and enthusiastic audience which numbered about 4500 that evening.

Many people, feeling that this was the one and only time they would get to see these men in competition had made a long trip to be there. Your Editor and his family had motored out (most of the trip through bad snow storms). We were well repaid for our trip out and certainly enjoyed the fine hospitality that is always so much in evidence when we go to California. We consequently have a very warm spot in our hearts for the state and its fine people quite apart from the beautiful weather we always enjoy while there. We know that we will enjoy our trip out in June for the Professional Championships when we will be there for a considerable period. We urge all our readers to make arrangements to take their vacations at that time and attend this great meet in Calif. You will surely have the finest vacation of your life.

The Shrine Auditorium where the meet was held is quite large, seating 6600 people, so everyone had a good seat. There is a huge stage and this was filled with celebrities. Bob Hoffman, Tony Terlazzo, Earle Leiderman, Mac Batchelor, Sig Klein and a great host of other famous people in the bodybuilding world besides all the physique contestants and the beautiful girls competing in the Miss U.S.A. contest. You never saw so much muscle and beauty in one place before. Yes, there were a lot of photographers back there too, but it was a job to get photos because it was such a mad house. We wish we had room to go into detail about all the people we met and the things that happened but it would take the whole magazine. We will have to be content to show a few photos and give a. brief description of the meet and urge you all to try to attend such meets on the West Coast after this. Sig Klein was amazed at the fine gyms out there and he stated that he had never dreamed there were so many super men in one locality before.

Out in front was a large and famous orchestra of about 20 pieces which furnished appropriate music for the show. Among the audience were several famous movie stars such as Van Johnson, Shirley Temple, Joe Kirkwood and a large number of others.

The show started off with a very good barrel jumping act by George Suzane, then there was a great hand balancing act by the Titans who did some unbelievable work. A comedy act by the Black Brothers who were Pantomime Artists. Johnny Robinson and his partner put on a great high bars act that was the best we have ever seen. His smooth and effortless stunts on the bars are unbelievable. We thought only monkeys could do the things he did. Pansy the Horse (the two Mayo Brothers dressed up as a horse) and a beautiful young lady put on a hilarious comedy act that had the audience roaring.

A bench press contest between Page, McCune, Sandoval, Stern and Eiferman with 250 pound. resulted in Eiferman winning with 20 presses and McCune taking second with about 14 presses. (We have forgotten the exact number of the other fellows. Stern made about 13 and Sandoval and Page about 12 if we remember correctly.) Eiferman had quite an advantage with his short arms and a wide grip clear out to the collars. His presses traveled about 8 inches and he has terrific pectoral development. It seemed he might have been able to do more if he had to.

Seigmund Klein came from New York City to put on his fine act of barbell and dumbell juggling, card tearing and posing. He was sensational for a man of his age of 48. He still has unusual separation and shape. His posing act is very different from that commonly seen now days. He has a stage presence and showmanship not possessed by our present day bodybuilders. Sig certainly enjoyed his stay in Calif. but the constant round of social activities had him about worn out. Sig says people out there were just too good to him.

We have listed all these various acts but they were not all in this order as some of them were interspersed between the "Miss U.S.A." and the "Mr. U.S.A." contests.

The "Miss U.S.A." contest was first. We were told that there were 40 entries but there were not this many who posed. The photo with this report shows all the girls entered. There were many beautiful girls entered; many of them models and actresses. Many of the young ladies familiar to bodybuilding magazines were entered such as Magana Baptiste and Roberta Marcyan. The girls came out on the posing platform one at a time as Bob Hoffman called their names. They posed and then lined up on the stage before the judges while the judges made their decisions. Then the judges called some of them out again before making their final decision. The final winner was a beautiful and shapely blond by the name of Shirlee Tegge. Second place went to Jerry Knack, a vivacious brunette and third place to M. DelMar who was also a brunette. They were happy young ladies and did a great deal of posing with "Mr. U.S.A." contestants.

The "Mr. U.S.A. contest was what the audience was waiting for. The judges for this event were as follows: Peary Rader, head judge, Don Haley, Don DeMarce, Cliff Byers, and Phil Raisch, all famous in the bodybuilding world and men who had served many times at other important physique contests. I was proud to be one of such a panel of judges. Never was there a group of men who were more sincere and conscientious in their efforts to be fair. There was not the slightest sign of favoritism by anyone. Every man was acquainted with the contestants and numbered them among his friends. There certainly was no pressure brought to bear on anyone as was feared by some.

The posing platform was superbly arranged consisting of a long ramp leading from the back curtain to the posing platform in front. The men marched out upon this and went through their posing routine. There was only one flaw, the lighting was not good. For this reason, the judges could not arrive at a fair decission and were forced to call a number of the leaders back again back stage under normal lighting for another inspection, but more of this later.

The men marched out on the platform one at a time, did their posing and then lined up across the stage. Fifteen men competed. The first man out was Floyd Page. What a magnificent physique he has. Certainly one of the best the world has ever seen. Some of his poses are unbelievable. His upper body is terrific. His legs are still a little slender in comparison, especially the calves. He operates a fine Health Studio.

Grimek came on next. We believe he suffered more from the poor lighting than any of the others. His huge muscles cast heavy shadows across the rest of his body. His arms were the most impressive we have ever seen. Especially under normal lighting back stage. Meyers claimed they measured 18 5/8 inches cold. He was in fine shape all over. In fact every man in the meet had trained as he had never trained before and they were all in top condition. Grimek has marvelous legs and a very good back - especially the erectors and trapezius, muscles often undeveloped in many physique contestants unless they have done considerable lifting. His abdominals are perhaps his weakest point. They are average except for his upper obliques which are very good. His deltoids are very good and maintain their shape even when relaxed which is something that many do not do. His posing was very good, however the judges did not give too much consideration to this or to hair, skin, etc., since they had decided this was to be a physique contest and not a beauty or posing contest. So these things were given minor importance. However, proportion was very important. Muscularity and shape were very important. Posture was important. A man's appearance when relaxed was of outstanding importance. If a man had to tense up to look good he lost prestige in the sight of the judges. Grimek's victory was not clear cut until the judges saw the back stage posing under normal lighting. Grimek is Associate Editor of "Health and Strength" magazine.

Roland Essmaker, "Mr. America" of 1939, just ten years ago, was next man on. He has a very fine build, much better than when he won the "Mr. America" title. However, he was still too slender to win this contest. He is very well proportioned with very fine definition and good posing ability. His would be an ideal type of build to the average American. Roland is a printer.

Walt Baptiste was next man on. He is without doubt one of the best built short men in the World. He is good all over. We didn't see any weak points in his physique. His height was against him as it always is in an unrestricted contest where the short men must compete against tall men. It is regretable that some recognition can not be given the superbly built men. Walt has unusual pectorals, arms, and shoulders. He operates a Health Studio in San Francisco.

Norman Marks was the next man. This young fellow has a marvelous build. Very well muscled and fine separation, although not as much as some of the other fellows had. His shoulders are very broad and, unlike many broad shouldered fellows, his chest is very deep and high arched. He is not as heavily developed as many of the contestants however, and his hips are a little slender compared to his shoulder breadth. He would have better chances with another inch or two of height.

Leo Stern came on next. He was as good as ever but hadn't studied his poses out before hand and got a little confused. However this did not affect the judges' study of his fine physique. Leo hadn't trained too much for this contest but never-the-less looked great. Leo will do a lot of lifting at our Professional Championships. He operates a Health Studio in San Diego and is a real credit to the game, always willing to help out in every way he can. He plans to work hard for next year's contest.

The magnificent Steve Reeves was next. This man has the most marvelous arms and shoulders. His legs are terrifically developed and especially his calves. He never fails to be a sensation whenever he comes on the stage. Very handsome with a pleasant personality and a ready smile. He is very popular. Steve has deliberately neglected his hip development, a factor which is holding back his success somewhat in physique contests. He should also attempt to deepen his chest somewhat. When these two areas are improved he will be unbeatable by anyone in the world. The lights on the posing platform did not favor Steve much more than they did Grimek. Steve and George Eiferman both give strength and posing exhibitions around over the country. They will both show their strength and muscles at the Professional Strong Man Championships in June.

Walt Marcyan was the next man up. He has a very powerful build and is one of the strongest men in the world as well as one of the best built. The poses he selected did not show his physique to best advantage and his separation was not as great as some of the other fellows showed. Walt does very little bodybuilding at present and is training mostly for power in order to make some world records. He operates one of the west coast's most successful Health Studios and will participate in the coming Professional Championships.

George Eiferman was on the platform next. This man is amazing. Still improving and has a most muscular physique. Every muscle in his body is fully developed with the exception of his calves. It would be almost impossible for anyone to beat him if he had better proportions between his body and arms and legs, but his trunk is slightly too long for his arms and legs. He has the heaviest developed pectorals in the world. His arms and shoulders are unequaled. His back is among the best in the world. He has superbly developed abdominals and his thighs are very heavily developed and shapely. Win or loose, George is always happy and smiling, full of spontaneous fun and liked by everyone.

Clarence Ross was next and what a physique he has. Not quite as heavily built as Grimek, Reeves, and Eiferman, but with beautiful proportions. His abdominals were outstanding and greatly improved over a year or so ago. He has a marvelous back, arms shoulders, and legs. He has very good separation. His posing and posture are very good. His calves are still a little small in comparison to his upper body. His arms, although measuring large, are a little long and therefore do not appear as large as some of the other fellows. Still the over-all picture of symmetry, proportion and muscularity is about perfect. Clancy is rather quiet with a very attractive personality and well liked by everyone. He operates a fine studio in Alameda.

By this time the judges were a sick bunch of men faced with the necessity of choosing between these magnificent specimen of manhood. Most certainly the finest built men ever assembled in one group anywhere in the world, and the judges were faced with the necessity of making a choice between them. There was so little to choose between them as they were all so nearly perfect. Yes, they were sick, physically and mentally sick at the task that faced them. Many were the audible groans that issued from down deep as they watched the contestants pose.

But this was not all. Next came Jimmy Payne. He has wonderful development but here again was a short man competing against the odds of taller men. He has a very fine all around development and good separation. He has been operating a studio in San Francisco.

Next on the platform was Bob McCune. Bob's photos never begin to do him justice. He has huge proportions and his muscles are beautifully curved. His pectorals and legs are particularly outstanding. He does not have the separation that the other fellows do but you do not notice this as his muscles are so full and well shaped. He is improving all the time and should do even better in future contests.

Harold Zinkin was next on the posing platform. He has a very finely developed body. His separation is outstanding. He does not have the bulk of some of the other boys which is his main trouble as he would be hard to beat with more size if he could maintain his present separation and shape. He is one of the country's best hand balancers. Also a very good lifter and is expected to make high lifts in the Professional Championships.

Phil Courtois was the 14th man 10 pose. He has a marvelous chest, very deep and heavily muscled. He can well be classified as one of the best built. He has good separation and posing ability. His legs are a little small and his arms and shoulders could be a little larger. He is working hard and will be tough competition next year. He operates a fine studio in Oakland.

The 15th and last man was a real surprise. When Armand Tanny walked onto the posing platform everyone was amazed at the improvement he had made. Muscles stand out all over this boy. He is good everywhere and had the finest tan of the group, a fact that gave him an advantage. His shoulders are very broad. He not only looks good but is good and will attempt a 300 pound clean at the Professional Championships in June. He has a fishing boat and had a grand opportunity to get his beautiful tan.

As the men finished their posing, the judges left for their little room above the auditorium, faced with their almost impossible task of placing these men. They were actually pale as they filed wordlessly into the little room. Although they had kept notes and score etc. during the posing, they were still unable to arrive at even one decision. A long period of discussion still left them undecided so they finally selected the five top men as follows: Reeves, Ross, Grimek, Eiferman and Tanny, with Page just eliminated to 6th place. Since there were only five cash prizes and the audience was going wild waiting for the decision we were instructed to make placings of the first five. These five men were called back stage under normal lighting conditions. They were all lined up and made to stand relaxed in front, side and back poses while the judges studied their physiques carefully, noting especially points that had been discussed before. Then they were all asked to go through three poses tensed, front, side, and back. After this careful study, the judges again retired and made a very analytical study of each man's physique, body part by body part. These things were thoroughly discussed, proportions were discussed. Their appearance both relaxed and tensed were considered. Everything that could pertain to a physique contest was given careful thought. All the while poor Bert Goodrich was running wildly back and forth trying to hurry the judges and keep the audience satisfied. Finally he prevailed upon the judges to make their decisions.

They placed Grimek first, Ross second and Reeves third (and how they hated to make a choice between these two), Eiferman fourth and Tanny fifth. This left Page sixth although there was no cash prize for this place. The judges had intended to place every man which was only fair to the men themselves, but were not allowed time enough for this.

Beautiful trophies and checks were then presented, speeches were made and much picture taking was in progress back stage. The stage was not cleared for an hour or so after the event was over.

The author was just one judge. I have tried to give you a true picture of the contest. I have tried to tell you why some men were picked ahead of others. This is just our own interpretation of how the judges felt, arrived at from the discussion before the decisions were made. We know the readers want to know why. and many of the contestants have asked us why. If we have misinterpreted or misstated anything it is unintentional. We will make any corrections necessary. The contestants are entitled to know anything that will help them. We can not tell how any judge voted because all of them voted on unmarked ballots purposely. Their decisions were arrived at by every method available. They were not restricted to using a point system or any other system. We feel the decisions were as fair as possible.


- PHOTO AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE shows the 5 place winners receiving their trophies. They are left to right, Armand Tanny (5th), the "clown" George Eiferman (4th), Steve Reeves (3rd), John Grimek (1st), Clarence Ross (2nd). Sorry boys, we didn't get the name of the movie star presenting the awards. This photo by Joe Mahalic of Los Angeles.

- PHOTOS ON OPPOSITE PAGE-No.1 from left to right shows John Grimek, Steve Reeves, George Eiferman and Armand Tanny. In the background we see "Miss U.S.A." looking the supermen over. Good posed photographs were almost impossible to obtain because the place was a madhouse back stage. There must have been 300 people back there at times. In photo No.2 we see Steve Reeves, Grimek seated, Eiferman Jerry Knack; 2nd in "Miss U.S.A." Shirlee Tegge 1st place, Marken Del Mar, 3rd place. (We are not sure if we were given the right spelling of these girls' names). In photo No.3 we again see the three top place winners in the "Miss U.S.A." contest. In photo No.4 we have the 1939 "Mr. America", Roland Essmaker, Bob McCune, and Floyd Page. Seated is "Miss U.S.A.", Shirlee Tegge. In No. 5 We have Sig Klein at 48 years of age and right after his splendid act shaking hands with an admiring Walt Baptiste. In No.6 we have a shot of the three best built men in the world, Reeves, Grimek and Ross. Photos by Athletic Model Guild.

- PHOTO AT BOTTOM OF PAGE is a little dim because photographer had to get back so far to get all the contestants in the photo but it shows the beautiful contestants in the "Miss U.S.A." contest. Bob Hoffman, at the right end, enjoyed being MC for this event

- Another view by Mahalic of the three top men in the "Mr. U.S.A." contest. Reeves, Grimek and Ross, all of whom were in top shape for this important event.

- Joe Kirkwood the movie star who plays the part of Joe Palooka is shown presenting the awards to the "Miss U.S.A." winners Shilee Tegge (1st) Jerry Knack (2nd). Marken Del Mar (3rd). Photo by Mahalic.

- On the left we have three famous characters in the strongman world. Earle Liederman shakes the mighty hand of Ian "Mac" Batchelor as Sig Klein (weighing less than half Batchelors great 310 lbs.) looks on. In the middle photo Grimek shows his mighty right arm, the most terrific arm we have ever seen. Gene Meyers declared they measured it at 18 5/8 inches "cold". On the right we have Miss Shirlee Tegge "Miss U.S.A." as she poses for the camera. Photos by Ath. Model Guild.

- PHIL COURTOIS of Oakland, Calif. has one of the finest physiques in the country and is now working hard to further improve it and will reach the top one of these days. His chest is unusually fine. Photo back stage by Athletic Model Guild.

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