Bodybuilding legend Dave Draper dead at 79

Image via TheBarbell (Twitter)

Dave Draper, a bodybuilding legend who Arnold Schwarzenegger calls an “inspiration,” has passed away at the age of 79.

Draper won the Mr. America title in 1965 and then Mr. Universe a year later. Draper’s wife Laree announced the news on Facebook. His cause of death is currently unknown.

Hi, friends, as the word’s getting out, I wanted to let you know so there’s no confusion. Dave died early this morning. I was with him and it was calm and peaceful. It, as his doctor told me a little while ago, was a good death.

On his website, Draper said he started lifting weights in the ’50s. When he did it, “it didn’t have wide public appeal or approval and 99 out of 100 athletic coaches gave it the thumbs down.”

I arranged a makeshift set of weights and within a month I was fully hooked on lifting. By the age of twelve, barbells and dumbbells had become very important to me. They were my solid steel friends that I could trust. When the going got tough, when I kept missing the baseball, and when girls were far too cute to talk to, the weights were there and they spoke my language. I loved the resistance they offered and without coaching, gymnasiums or teams of players, I could enjoy a basic oneness of the activity where you were in control of being controlled.

Draper also shared the secret of bodybuilding.

“As Jeff Everson once said to me, ‘There are no secrets. You simply have basic God-given genetics, body chemistry and bone structure. And provided the attributes of discipline and determination, you apply yourself full bore, and your body potential emerges – slow but sure.'”

Draper was a legend in the bodybuilding scene and had a part in the 1967 movie Don’t Make Waves starring Sharon Tate.

 Arnold Schwarzenegger took to his Instagram page to write a tribute for Draper.

“Dave Draper was an inspiration to millions of people all over the world, including me. He was one of my idols. In Austria, I kept his cover of Muscle Builder magazine on the wall above my bed for motivation, and when I saw him starring in ‘Don’t Make Waves’, I thought, ‘My dreams are possible.'”

Draper’s been featured on the cover of countless muscle magazines and articles over the years, and he also wrote a regular column on his website. He was poetic in his approach to describing the sport.

Once I stood in the center of Century Plaza, on the granite edge of a stunning water fountain. The size of a tennis court, the fountain adorned the center-divide of Century Boulevard and was framed by towering thirty-story glass-fronted office buildings to the east and west. Water gushed brilliantly toward the sky, and I nonchalantly busied myself while glowing with oil in my teal posing trunks waiting for Russ Warner to prepare his camera, position himself and position me. It was high noon — lunchtime, in the bustling, sophisticated business district of Beverly Hills, home of world finance and filmmaking. Traffic was heavy and animated.