STEVE  REEVES      WORLDS  TO  CONQUER
An  Authorized  Biography

         

 

By    Christopher D. LeClaire

 Author publicity photo,  2012

 

          Steve Reeves electrified audiences for decades. Rising to stardom in two fields, he was the first bodybuilder turned actor, long before Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sylvester Stallone hit the scene.

          Drawing on seven years of research and writing (1992-1999) and having lived and worked with Steve Reeves on his 14 acre Valley Center, California horse ranch, Christopher LeClaire was given full authorization by Reeves to be his official biographer. 

          In Worlds To Conquer, LeClaire captures in words and photography, including over 190 photos - many never before published - the definitive portrait of the man who has inspired millions, the man many believe to be the greatest bodybuilder ever.

 

 

                                       

      1936                          1948                         ATHENA, 1954  MGM                       HERCULES, 1957                  THIEF OF BAGHDAD, 1963                The Reeves, 1978

 

PHOTO    GALLERY     WORLDS  TO  CONQUER

 

                       

    Steve & Aline Reeves, 1963                                          Steve & Aline Reeves, 1978

                             

Fourth of July Party, 1994 at Reeves' Ranch. L to R :  Famed photographer Russ Warner, Steve Reeves, George Eiferman and the author Chris LeClaire.

Steve Reeves with Chris LeClaire at Reeves Ranch in Valley Center, California, 1994.

                    

 

                                                     

   

Chris LeClaire with Steve Reeves on a road trip through the California Palomar Mountains, 1993.

Chris LeClaire with Jack LaLanne, a life-long friend and associate of Steve Reeves. This shot was taken at LaLanne's house in San Lois Obisbo, California, 1994.

 

 

All Photos   by Christopher LeClaire    Copyright C  2009    All  Rights Reserved

Christopher D. LeClaire     P.O. Box 116  South Chatham, MA 02659   U.S.A     Email:     LECLAIRE13 @ COMCAST.NET

 

 

 

Introduction         WORLDS  TO  CONQUER

 

          May 9th, 1993, Mid-flight from Boston to San Diego. I am en route to meet Steve Reeves. As the plane crosses the continent, I try to imagine how he must look at 67. The only photos I have seen of him were taken more than thirty years ago, in the prime of his bodybuilding days and early in his movie career. I pull a folder out of my briefcase, and study a picture. Reeves on a beach, in costume for Hercules, full beard, toga, thighs flexed, massive arms outstretched, as if in greeting, as if to embrace the world. I can't superimpose the image of an older Reeves over this photo, can't add a layer of age to depict what he looks like now.
          Reeves has granted the interview only after months of requests. When I first called him in February (1993) to approach him with the proposal for a book about his life and movie career he had responded with a flat, "I don't find my career all that interesting, thank you anyways." During the conversation, I broached the subject of an interview at least three times, but he put me off, finally deflecting my idea by suggesting that I get back to him in three weeks. Exactly three weeks later I called  and once more Reeves was reluctant to agree to an interview. This time, however, the call lasted longer. Again, I was struck by the deep timbre of his voice, remembering rumors I'd heard about his movies being dubbed because his voice was high and thin. We talked about Sergio Leone, Pietro Francisci and some of the other preeminent directors he had worked with. As we continued to talk, he suddenly expressed resentment that people thought about him only as the role of Hercules. "That's the problem," Steve said. "Out of the seventeen films I starred in, only two were Hercules movies. People think I did ten of them." We went on to talk about his days as a champion bodybuilder and his life now. He informed me of the recent passing of his wife, Aline, a marriage of 26 years, and the toll it had been taking on his life. And lastly, his ranch in the hills outside Escondido, along with his prized Morgan horses. Before we hang up, he conceded to an interview. "Okay," he said reluctantly. "I suppose I can give you one hour. One hour." For this I am flying across the country. To relieve a bout of nerves, I flip through my notes. As I review the questions I intend to ask, I turn pass another 8X10 photo, the same image that initially sparked my curiosity about Reeves. In the summer of 1991, while thumbing through a newsstand issue of Ironman Magazine, a photo of George Eiferman caught my attention.. Taken in 1956, the shot was of Eiferman, a former Mr. America, posing on a California beach with another bodybuilder. Comparing the two bodybuilders, I asked myself which physique I would choose and be inspired by for my own training regime. Eiferman had the mass and weight of a big competitor, but it was the other guy who had in addition to muscle and brawn, outstanding proportion and an arresting grace. The caption read: "George Eiferman with one-time training partner and roommate Steve Reeves, 'MR. EVERYTHING.'" Although the name was somewhat unfamiliar to me, I couldn't shake the sense that I had seen Reeves before.
          I began searching through used book stores in Boston, buying up old muscle magazines wherever I could find them, looking for photos and stories of Reeves. I soon learned that he was an internationally known bodybuilding champion and in the late 1940's had won the Mr. America (1947) contest - the youngest ever to do so - an accomplishment he soon topped by winning the Mr. World (1948) and Mr. Universe(1950) titles as well. One day, a college professor of mine glimpsed at a photo of Reeves in a file on my desk said, "I remember him. When I was a kid in the 1950's, I used to go to all the movies houses to see him. He was Hercules!" I understood then why that first photo in Ironman had seemed so familiar. As a ten year old, I would sit transfixed in front of the television on Saturday mornings watching old movies. Morgan The Pirate. Hercules. The Thief of Baghdad. The genre was known as 'Sword & Sandal' classics, and identifying with the heroes of these mythological tales, I couldn't get enough of them. So Steve Reeves, the world champion bodybuilder, was the same Reeves whose cinematic exploits I had marveled at as a child. Rather than satisfying my curiosity, this information only heightened it. I went in search of a biography that would tell me more about Reeves and his two careers as actor and bodybuilder, but had no luck. (There weren't any fan clubs dedicated to Steve Reeves at this time (1991) although two were to be established in the mid 1990's - one in Naro, Italy and the other in California). The more difficult it was to find information, the more driven I became to learn more. I searched for back issues of Muscular Development, Your Physique, and even Strength & Health, going as far back as the forties. The items I uncovered only added to his mystique: Reeves, known as the man with the perfect physique, was reclusive, a loner; while acting in films produced by famed Joseph E. Levine, he met and married a princess and became a count; he had lived in Switzerland for ten years, had spent time as a rodeo rider, had appeared on Broadway and in night club acts. Later, I was to learn that many of these 'facts' were not true and I faced the difficulty of separating truth from here say. One Health & Strength article said that he was 6'4", while others wrote that he was 5'7" and directors had to get shorter actors to play opposite him, another said that his films were dubbed because his voice was high and pitched. I read that he had a Brooklyn accent, and that he had no voice at all due to heavy steroid use. I read he had joined the Mae West traveling road show and that he had performed all his own stunts in the two Hercules films. Which of these rumors were fact? Who was this man? What drove him to develop such an ideal physique? What made him tick? What was it like to be an idol for millions? Why, after rising to the heights in two fields, had he dropped from the public arena so suddenly? What had become of him? Where was he now? I spent the next year and half (1991-1993) looking for answers. At first, I envisioned a book that would celebrate Reeves as both a bodybuilder and actor, but soon I saw a larger purpose. His story was a remarkably inspiring one, offering a reader many lessons from a life well led.

          At the motel Reeves has recommended as inexpensive and safe, I try to nap, but am unable to lie down for more than ten minutes. At this time in my life I was 23 years old, and currently a sophomore in college, so meeting and approaching a world renowned movie star with the goal of writing his life story was a little nerve racking, to say the very least. As arranged, I call Reeves that afternoon to let him know I was now in town and to reconfirm our appointment the following morning. Again, he makes a point of saying he can only give me one hour of his time. The next day, it takes me no more than fifteen minutes to reach Reeves' ranch. As I drive up the winding dirt road, I check my watch repeatedly, taken by the sense that it is important that I am on time. It is exactly 9 a.m. when I spot the fence post to which is attached a mailbox, ordinary except for the name - REEVES. As I pull into a circular drive bordered by orange groves, I see two figures in a field wrestling with a long pipe - a makeshift irrigation system, I am to learn later. One is a woman, the other a man. His hair is windblown. He is casually dressed in sweat pants and long shirt. The distance, of yards and of years makes no difference. I know it is Reeves. I yell out a greeting. He calls back that he'll be there in a minute. As he approaches, I sense his appraising glance. We shake hands. The rottweiler at his side wags his tail in greeting. Reeves' hair is gray, his face older, but his eyes are still young, Hollywood blue. He leads me into the house and shows me to the den, while he goes to change from his work clothes. My attention immediately goes to the top shelf of a bookcase, where a large bronze trophy sits of Eugene Sandow, the legendary father of bodybuilding. I recall seeing a photo of Reeves holding it in his arms in victory, at the conclusion of the 1950 Mr. Universe contest in London, the year he was twenty four.

          Soon Reeves returns. Zorro, the rottweiler joins us, easing some of the tension in the air, and I have to smile. This is exactly the dog central casting would have chosen for Steve Reeves. I look at Reeves but try not to be to obvious in my glance. The short sleeves of his dress shirt still reveal a once Mr. Universe with his well training biceps and forearms. He carries himself like a star. We sit back. The room is comfortable and airy. The window looks out onto a garden courtyard where huge poplar trees sway in the Anza desert winds. After a minute or two of small talk, aware that my promised one hour is slipping by, I hand over the proposal for the pictorial biography I have in mind. As Reeves scans the chapters and sample photos I have to offer, I wonder what is going through his mind. At last he takes off his reading glasses. There is a hint of hesitation. "It's good," he says, "but it's only a skeleton of my life." 

          That day we begin. We delve back the skeleton of Reeves' remarkable life and career, and working together and begin to flesh it out, setting the record straight. Over the next seven years, including two college summer breaks, I lived and work on the ranch with Reeves', his girlfriend and her two children, helping with ranch chores and the care of his prized Morgan horses, at which time I undertake a unique journey of discovery. It leads me to several cities in California, Montana, Canada, New York City, and eventually to an appreciation and understanding of the character of Steve Reeves. This book WORLDS TO CONQUER: An Authorized Biography of Steve Reeves is my attempt at capturing for the first time ever, in history, his entire life story into one concise document. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Christopher D. LeClaire,      South Chatham, MA

 

 

 

BOOK  REVIEWS    WORLDS  TO  CONQUER

 

         

 

          "...This book (Worlds To Conquer) is historically important, both as a social document and as a fortuitous tribute to one of the greatest physical culturists the world has ever known..."          HEALTH & STRENGTH   Magazine,  Roy Edwards, Editor - October 2000

         

          "LeClaire's book Worlds To Conquer helps you to know the real Steve Reeves. So much has been written about him and if you read this book you are going to separate the fact from the fiction, and will have a true insight into him. It is educational, entertaining and easy reading."                                                      JACK LaLANNE,    Fitness Legend

 

          "...There's plenty to learn in this new biography (Worlds To Conquer), even for the most die-hard Reeves fan...For Steve Reeves fans and bodybuilding buffs, this book is a great learning tool..."          IRONMAN   Magazine,  Jonathan Lawson - July 2000

 

          "...This is not a how-to book on training; it is more of an exploration of Steve Reeves' life. Upon finishing this book (Worlds To Conquer) you will have a feel for the very private person that Reeves always was."     MUSCLE & FITNESS   Magazine,   Joe Roark - April 2001

 

          "...Author, Chris LeClaire's wonderful impressions of Reeves' life have been arranged in a must-read authorized biography entitled STEVE REEVES: WORLDS TO CONQUER...The author's text is the product of meticulous research that reveals all facets of Reeves' life, augmented by colorful interviews, providing a who's who in the iron game..."          FLEX   Magazine,  April 2000

 

 

  The Films of  Steve Reeves

 

Jail Bait, 1954, USA - Howco Productions. B/W; Dir: Edward D. Wood, Jr. With Lyle Talbot, Delores Fuller, Steve Reeves.

Athena, 1954, USA - MGM pictures. Color; Dir: Richard Thorpe. With Debbie Reynolds, Steve Reeves, Jane Powell, Edmund Purdom, Vic Damone.

Hercules, 1957, Italy - Galatea/ Oscar Films. Color; Dir: Pietro Francisci. Photography: Mario Bava. Starring Steve Reeves, Sylva Koscina, Mimmo Palmara, Giana Maria Canale.

Hercules Unchained, 1958, Italy - Lux/ Galatea Films. Color; Dir: Pietro Francisci. Photography: Mario Bava. Starring Steve Reeves, Sylva Koscina, Sylvia Lopez, Mimmo Carnera.

The White Warrior, 1959, Italy - Majestic Films. Color; Dir: Riccardo Freda. Based on the short story by author Leo Tolstoy. Starring Steve Reeves, Georgia Moll and Scilla Gabel.

Goliath And The Barbarians, 1959, Italy - Standard Productions. Color; Dir: Carlo Campogalliani. Starring Steve Reeves, Chelo Alonso, Bruce Cabot.

The Last Days Of Pompeii, 1959, Italy - Cine Productions. Color; Dir: Mario Bonnard. Screenplay: Sergio Leone. Starring Steve Reeves, Christine Kauffman, Mimmo Palmara, A. Baumann.

The Giant Of Marathon, 1960, Italy - Titanus/ Galatea Films. Color; Dir: Jacques Tourneur. Photography: Mario Bava. Starring Steve Reeves, Mylene Demongeot, Daniela Rocca.

Morgan The Pirate, 1960, Italy - Adelphia Films. Color; Dir: Andre De Toth. Starring Steve Reeves, Valerie Lagrange, Chelo Alonso.

The Thief Of Baghdad, 1961, Italy - Lux/ Titanus Films. Color; Dir: Arthur Lubin. Starring Steve Reeves, Georgia Moll, Arturo Dominici.

The Trojan Horse, 1961, Italy - Borderie Films. Color; Dir: Giorgio Ferroni. Starring Steve Reeves, John Drew Barrymore, Jr., Juliette Mayniel, Hedy Vessel.

Duel Of The Titans, 1961, Italy - Titanus Films. Color; Dir: Sergio Corbucci. Screenplay: Sergio Leone, L. Martino, S. Corbucci. Starring Steve Reeves, Virna Lisi, Gordon Scott.

The Avenger (Legend Of Aeneas), 1962, Italy - Mercury Films. B/W; Dir: Albert Band. Starring Steve Reeves, Carla Marlier, Liana Orfei, Gianna Garko.

The Slave (The Son Of Spartacus), 1962, Italy - Titanus Films. Color; Dir: Sergio Corbucci. Starring Steve Reeves, Gianna Maria Cannale, Jacques Sernas.

Sandokan The Great, 1963, Italy - Centra Films. Color; Dir: Umberto Lenzi. Starring Steve Reeves, Genevieve Grad, Andre Bosic.

Sandokan (Pirates Of The Seven Seas), 1963, Italy - Filmes Productions. Color; Dir: Umberto Lenzi. Starring Steve Reeves, Jacqueline Sassard, Mimmo Palmara.

A Long Ride From Hell, 1968, Italy - B.R.C Films. Color; Dir: Alex Burks. Based on Gordon Shirreffs novel Judas Gun. Starring Steve Reeves, Wayde Preston, Silvanna Venturelli, M. Palmera.

 

 

Steve Reeves in Hercules, 1957

 

 

Chelo Alonso co starring with Reeves in Morgan The Pirate, 1960 Reeves with co star Genevieve Grad in Sandokan The Great, 1963

 

 

MGM's 1954 Athena, starring Steve Reeves and Debbie Reynolds. Reeves with co star Georgia Moll in The Thief Of Baghdad, 1963

 

 

Reeves starring in A Long Ride From Hell, 1968

 

 

LINKS
                                                                   

JOE ROARK,  Flex and Muscle & Fitness columnist is iron history's  number one source for 'iron history' on all aspects of the iron game from bodybuilding to strongmen...          

WWW.IRONHISTORY.COM 

 

                                                        

CLARENCE BASS Muscle & Fitness columnist, lawyer, bodybuilding champion and author of eight fitness books and products...   

WWW.CBASS.COM 

 

                                                               

BRIAN'S DRIVE-IN THEATER, this site has thousands of photos and lots of information about your favorite 'B' movie actors and actresses from the 1930's through the 1980's...

WWW.BRIANSDRIVEINTHEATER.COM

 

 

                                                                        

TROY BERTELSEN,  long time friend of Steve Reeves is a board certified personal trainer, strength champion, national level bodybuilder and public fitness speaker...

WWW.TROYSTEAMUP.COM

 

                                                                

DAVE DRAPER,  former Mr. America, Mr. Universe and author discusses 'Bomber Talk' and products... 

 

 

WWW.DAVEDRAPER.COM

 

 

 

                                                                   

                                                                

FRANK ZANE,  Mr. America, Mr. Universe, 3 time Mr. Olympia, and author, discusses the 'Zane Experience' and products...

WWW.FRANKZANE.COM

 

 

 

BOOK  &  AUTHOR          Information

 

STEVE REEVES:  WORLDS TO CONQUER:  An Authorized Biography    By  Christopher D. LeClaire     Monomoy Press, 1999

Copy Right C 1999, 2007, 2008  Christopher D. LeClaire     ISBN no. 096 767 5413     First Edition    10    9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1     Soft Cover   256 pages, 190 photos, 8x11 ins.

 

Availability    CurrentlyOut of Print.   

 

Note:     I am presently looking for a financial investor, possibly a Steve Reeves collector, who would be interested in collaborating with me, both 'financially & through distribution of mailings and orders' with the 'second printing' of WORLDS TO CONQUER. Details will follow as to percentages, distribution and guide lines, as well as all other agreements.

If someone is seriously interested, please contact me, Christopher LeClaire, either via email or through standard USPS, see both addresses at bottom of page.  PLEASE, SERIOUS INQUIRERS ONLY!  Thank You.

Sincerely,

Christopher D. LeClaire    

 

 

 

ABOUT

Christopher D. LeClaire

Hometown:    Chatham, Massachusetts, Cape Cod, U.S.A

     

LeClaire is a 1989 graduate of Chatham High School. He is a former U.S. Navy DIVER, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, and a recipient of an Honorable Discharge. In 1997 he graduated Cum Laude from The University Of Massachusetts in Dartmouth with a bachelor's degree in Fine Art with a concentration in photography.   

LeClaire is a published author and visual artist whose work has appeared in various trade magazines and publications. He has exhibited in fine art galleries throughout Cape Cod, Boston and Delaware. He lives in Chatham.

 

 

                               

Christopher LeClaire   Fine Art Photography

   For LeClaire's complete commercial photography portfolio & details log on at...

 

WWW.LECLAIREPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

 

 

 

 

Christopher D. LeClaire

   P.O. Box  116  South Chatham, MA 02659  U.S.A.          

Email:   LECLAIRE13@COMCAST.NET