the bernards and the corrigans

Bernard McFadden was the founder of Physical Culture magazine. He changed the spelling of his name to Bernarr because he thought it sounded like the roar of a lion and Macfadden because it sounded more masculine. You can read a lot more about him at where I found this paraphrased extract by Fulton Oursler

“While visiting Rome he met with Mussolini and told him the Italian army’s food bills were too high and the nutriment too low. He said he could give Italy stronger soldiers at half the price. Months later he received a telephone call from Ellis Island telling him a consignment of Italian soldiers were awaiting pickup. He put the young men on a course of physical culture, banning spaghetti, feeding them with cracked wheat and vegetables and putting them through calisthenics. He sent them back to Mussolini much improved and at 1/3 the cost. For this he received an Italian decoration which a few years later he threw away”

image found here

One of his early pupils was Raymond Berna(r)d who started training with him to correct a spinal curvature. He was such an avid student that he became a fitness instructor of the Macfadden method for Hollywood film stars of the 20s and 30s. His physique was noticed and he was first hired as a stunt double in Tarzan the Ape Man, worked his way up to become a star in his own right and changed his name to Ray “Crash” Corrigan.

image found here

Crash made many films, mostly westerns and also appeared in his ape costume in many more, mostly uncredited. In 1937 he bought a ranch which he developed into Corriganville, a location used for films and television shows. It was opened to the public in 1949.

Ray married in the early 1940s, and he and his wife, Rita, had three children. By 1954, the marriage was breaking up. Rita filed for a divorce. The contentious divorce had its amusing aspects. In June, 1954, The Los Angeles Times reported that Corrigan and three detectives had burst into Rita’s motel apartment and found her with another man, Moses Stiltz, who was the ex-foreman at the Corrigan ranch. The Times later reported an 80-m.p.h. car chase between Corrigan and Stiltz which climaxed with both men threatening to file citizen’s arrests charging assault with a deadly weapon. In court, Ray and his wife accused each other of having affairs with workers at the ranch.

Another actor with an interesting history is Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan. He starred as himself in the film, The Flying Irishman after claiming that he set out for California but ended up in Ireland due to a malfunctioning compass.

“Observers were more than a little surprised when Corrigan’s plane banked sharply to the east on takeoff and disappeared into a looming cloudbank over the Atlantic Ocean, the opposite direction of where he was supposed to be headed. They were even more surprised when reports came that, 28 hours and 13 minutes later, Corrigan had landed his little modified Curtiss-Robin monoplane at an airfield outside Dublin, Ireland, and amiably told the workers who gathered around him, “I just got in from New York. Where am I? I intended to fly to California.”

image found here

Published in: on January 20, 2010 at 7:35 am  Comments (30)  
Tags: , , , ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

30 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Do you like hunky chunky men young Nursey …… or older men with chicken legs whose weight loss regime consists of teeth falling out? ……. just askin’

    • I like smallish men with nice arms, upper body strength and at least 28 of their own teeth

  2. Most unusual post nurse, there’s no-one in any of the pics that I want to shag (can I say shag on your blog? Oops, I just did.)

    • Corrigan has a nice rack…

  3. I would have thrown the medal away too given what Mussolini did.

    Maybe I should add a name like nickname like “crash” to my real name.

  4. Didn’t wrong way wonder where all the land went???

    • Very good question, Bear!

      • if you click the link you’ll see it’s widely believed he did it on purpose after being denied permission to fly his plane that far.

      • And there I was thinking there was someone with a worse sense of direction than myself.

  5. Corrigan has always been a personal hero of mine. What a fantastic story! I’ve had some major fuck-ups that were just as bad, but none were as public.

  6. My grandmother is turning over in her grave. No spaghetti! He’s lucky he didn’t get to any of her relatives or the incident with Stiltz would have palled in comparison!

    The second story reminds me of one time I thought I was just going out to the bars and wound up in Atlantic City the next morning.

    • are you going to blog that story sometime Scott?

      • Haha, actually maybe I should. I haven’t thought of that in years. Some of these stories are so well hidden (or repressed) in my fragile mind. I guess you can see why I quit drinking….

  7. Ah, Bernarr MacFadden! His Health and Strength was one of the earliest magazines I know of to show a muscular female model — a young lady who went by the nickname Pudgie, as I remember from some retrospectives in muscle magazines, and who flashed a fine bicep in the days when flappers all had spindly tubular bodies.

    I wish more people would do strength training to correct spinal curvature. Some of the medically sanctioned approaches I see from time to time are pitiful, just pitiful.

    • I just googled her – great physique!

  8. I wonder what kind of questions you’d have to answer if you were interviewing to work at the Corrigan ranch.

  9. I love the backward headline!

  10. That is one helluva a pair of special safety knickers Corrigan is wearing !!

  11. Did he give himself the nickname “Crash” or did someone else do that? Most nicknames don’t catch on if you give them to yourself. That’s why no one calls me “Thrust.”

    • I’ll call you Thrust…..

  12. “…a consignment of Italian soldiers were awaiting pickup. He put the young men on a course of physical culture, banning spaghetti, feeding them with cracked wheat and vegetables…”

    I wonder what the poor Italian “volunteers” thought of that ? The English apparently tried something similar with their commando’s in WW2, in training on a cold and barren northern Scottish island. A small group were instructed by a civilian “expert” to exist on barnacles, moss and seaweed. The experiment was alluded to by the novelist Evelyn Waugh, and was highly unpopular and unsuccessful.

    • I bet it was unpopular!

  13. I am on something quite similar to Bernarrrr’s regime – Grrrrowl! Today I actually said no to the smoked salmon on white bread and yes to the nutty muesli (granola) but it was obscured under a mound of stewed rhubarb, all for the better. Soon I may have a ranch of my own out in the country. Perhaps I will train my own stuntment and stuntwomen?!

  14. ha ha! I love Wrong Way Corrigan. His is a legacy that lives on today.

    • haha… very appropriate link queenie

  15. I will fight them all!

  16. Your blog should be featured on the History Channel. No doubt a “viewer warning for children” must be issued, but the history you have compiled here is truly remarkable!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: