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 BernarrMacfadden.com 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”

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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.

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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.”

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