It was such a terrible loss for the world to hear about the death of Jack LaLanne recently, but he lived a long and fulfilling life exactly as he planned it. His belief in eating right, exercising and teaching everyone he encountered to take care of their health was heard all over the world. He was the developer and designer of most of our gym equipment today, and founded the first gyms in the world.
I was fortunate to attend the celebration of his life at the Hall of Liberty in the Hollywood Hills on Tuesday, February 1. I knew Jack well, as I was the associate producer of his show in the early 80’s, and he was an inspiration to the crew and staff, the vast viewing audience and friends. The auditorium was packed, and after a welcoming speech by his son Jon LaLanne, the first speaker was Arnold Schwarzenegger — our body-building governor — who told us that when he first came to this country, he was taken to meet Jack LaLanne. They spent the next few hours getting acquainted and exercising, and he couldn’t keep up with him!
Among the many speakers that followed were Richard Simmons, who told how he first met Jack, Lou Ferrigno, friend and body builder, and Denise Austin, whom Jack helped to get her own fitness show. Jon LaLanne followed, telling us humorous stories of what it was like to have Jack as his father. He also told us about himself — that he is a well-known surfing champion and has a band. Jon, a very talented son, then sang “The Impossible Dream” beautifully, and played the harmonica as well. He was followed by a talk and piano concert from the famous Roger Williams.
Next the entire family was introduced and each commented on their life with Jack. All during the program, films were shown featuring the progress made in Jack’s life as his mission reached all over the world and his well-known feats of strength periodically performed in different parts of the world.
The closing moment was a film of Jack singing “It’s Time to Leave You,” which was an ending feature on some of his shows, and it was a very emotional moment. Elaine LaLanne followed with warm closing remarks, receiving enthusiastic appreciation from the audience. As the guests left the auditorium, they were given DVD’s featuring many of his shows that will certainly be treasured by his friends and fans. This one-of-a-kind human being made an impression on all who met him and he will never be forgotten. What a Guy!