A reoccurring phenomenon when researching the IFBB or the Weider brothers is the presence of controversy. As previously discussed in a different post, the establishment of the International Federation of BodyBuilding was not without its conflicts and controversies.
Naturally, it seems, as founder of the federation and as, we must acknowledge it, kingpin of bodybuilding, Joe Weider himself would not be without controversy. This post in particular will discuss Weider as a representation of himself. Put more clearly, the way Joe Weider displayed his own image in magazines and across the bodybuilding scene was, while risking being repetitive, controversial.
The Weider Brand
I’m sure many of our readers have come across the Weider brand either by accident, when shopping for supplements, or when actually researching this stuff.
As seen on the image, the Weider brand features Joe Weider (looking swole if I do say so myself) with his arms crossed.
This very logo is taken from a bust of Joe Weider that was on display in his office. Devised in 1976, was revealed to a crowd shortly after and then featured in a 1979 issue of Weider’s Muscle Builder along with the caption: “Famed Sculptor of Indian Chiefs renders mighty Woodland Hills chief Joe Weider in Bronze.”
If you do not know what’s coming next…hold on to your protein shake.
The bust of Joe Weider, is not Joe Weider.
While the head and the mustache is, without a doubt, Weider, the body belongs to Robby ‘the Black Prince’ Robinson. Discussing with author Randy Roach, Robinson reveals that following a Mr. Universe win in 1976, he was approached by Weider claiming that the former should be immortalized in bronze, and that the cast would sit in the Weider lobby “alongside the paintings of the other greats like Larry Scott and Arnold.”
At a special ceremony, to which Robinson was personally invited, Weider revealed the bust (Weider head added) and presented it as “the new Weider bust to be used on all our products and advertisements throughout the world.”
This was not the first time Joe Weider falsely represented himself. In the 1940s, francophone business competitor Adrien Gagnon writes that the Weiders were liars and charlatans who either represented themselves wearing suits with padded shoulders or in painting. According to Gagnon, the Weiders did this because they had no built and were afraid to show it.
In this case, Gagnon was referring to the November 1947 cover of Your Physique, featuring a painted Joe Weider, arms crossed, and looking fit.
Yet, other accusations.
This came up again in a 1960s issue of Dan Lurie’s Muscle Training Illustrated.
As noted on the cover of the January issue of MTI, Dan Lurie was challenging Joe Weider to “an open physique contest” to prove that the latter was lying about his body. This occurred after Weider was accused of pasting his head on Clarence Ross’s body decades prior. It is possible that this is referring to the same image Gagnon scrutinized in 1947.
While Joe Weider never discussed these accusations, it is difficult to disregard the evidence.
It is important to note that Joe Weider had a developed physique when he began his publications. Being an advent weight-lifter early in his life and being surrounded by big names in the bodybuilding business, it would be surprising that Weider never abided to the various routines or did not have a body that represented his teachings. It is noteworthy as well to emphasize that, while having a developed body, the 1947 representation is exaggerated, as noticeable in the following picture of Weider dated to the late 1940s, 1950s.
As a businessman and entrepreneur, it comes to no surprise that it is highly plausible that Joe Weider represented himself in such a way to increase sales and to ensure that the belief of the success of his practices remains, well, immortalized.