Dave Draper, a well-liked bodybuilder of the Sixties who received three main titles earlier than dropping out of competitors at age 28, died on Nov. 30 at his residence in Aptos, Calif., close to Santa Cruz. He was 79.
The trigger was congestive coronary heart failure, his spouse, Laree Draper, mentioned.
Mr. Draper — who stood six toes tall, had a 54-inch chest and competed at 235 kilos — emerged as a power in bodybuilding in 1962 together with his victory at the Mr. New Jersey competitors. He quickly moved to Southern California, the place he continued to sculpt his physique at the Dungeon, a gymnasium on the fabled Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, and at Gold’s Gym, within the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles.
He beloved lifting weights for its bodily and non secular advantages. But he disliked the preening and posing required of bodybuilders at competitions and exhibitions.
“For a reasonable season of my life, it seemed like the thing to do,” Mr. Draper mentioned in an interview with T-Nation, a energy coaching and bodybuilding web site, in 2009. “But competition stood between me and the relief of hoisting the iron — the private exertion, the pure delight and the daily fulfillment of building muscle and strength.”
Despite that ambivalence, Mr. Draper, who grew to become often called the Blond Bomber, was a star on the bodybuilding scene of the Sixties. He was named Mr. America in 1965, and Mr. Universe in 1966 — earlier than Arnold Schwarzenegger had arrived from Austria — and received the Mr. World title in 1970.
“Dave trained harder than anybody else and always wore jeans to the gym,” Frank Zane, a three-time Mr. Olympia, mentioned in an interview. “He loved to train, and he was very strong. He just didn’t like competing.”
Mr. Draper’s spectacular physique discovered an occasional residence in Hollywood. He had roles in sitcoms like “The Beverly Hillbillies” (as Dave Universe, a date for Elly May Clampett) and “The Monkees” (as a personality named Bulk). He was additionally in a couple of movies, together with “Don’t Make Waves” (1967), during which he performed Sharon Tate’s boyfriend.
“In Austria, I kept his cover of Muscle Builder magazine on the wall above my bed for motivation,” Mr. Schwarzenegger mentioned in a press release after Mr. Draper’s dying, “and when I saw him starring in ‘Don’t Make Waves,’ I thought, ‘My dreams are possible.’”
Mr. Draper, who was additionally a talented woodworker, grew to become one in every of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s coaching companions and constructed some furnishings for his residence in Santa Monica. “I learned his heart was as big as his pecs,” Mr. Schwarzenegger mentioned.
Even as he was competing, Mr. Draper was abusing alcohol, marijuana and angel mud. (He mentioned he additionally used steroids, sparingly, beneath a physician’s supervision.) He continued to have issues, mainly with alcohol, till 1983, when he was recognized with congestive coronary heart failure.
Ms. Draper — who met her future husband at a gymnasium in Capitola, Calif., close to Santa Cruz — attributed his alcohol and drug use to the tensions introduced on by competing and coping with the calls for of Hollywood.
“He got caught up in it, and I guess he couldn’t handle it,” she mentioned in an interview.
David Paul Draper was born on April 16, 1942, in Secaucus, N.J. His father, Dan, was a salesman; his mom, Anne (Simsek) Draper, was a homemaker.
Dave, who didn’t excel at crew sports activities, bought his first set of weights at age 10. By 12, he was aggressively figuring out with barbells and dumbbells.
“They were my solid steel friends that I could trust,” he mentioned in his e-book “A Glimpse in the Rear View” (2020), a compilation of columns from his web site. “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.”
He purchased his gear at Weider Barbell in Union City, N.J. — a part of Joe Weider’s empire of muscle magazines, health tools, dietary supplements and competitions — and at 19 grew to become the weekend supervisor of a gymnasium in Jersey City. He additionally bought a part-time job within the Weider Barbell warehouse, the place he labored out with the opposite transport clerks. Mr. Weider, who was often called the Master Blaster, gave Mr. Draper his Blond Bomber nickname.
“He had the fire in the belly, don’t kid yourself,” Mr. Weider instructed GQ journal for a profile of Mr. Draper in 2000. “He wouldn’t have gotten the kind of body he did without hard work.”
After successful Mr. New Jersey, Mr. Draper moved to Santa Monica, the place he continued to work for Mr. Weider. As Mr. Draper’s profile in bodybuilding rose, he appeared on the covers of magazines revealed by Mr. Weider, like Muscle Builder and Mr. America, and in adverts for his tools.
Reflecting on his victory within the Mr. America occasion, held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Mr. Draper wrote that he took satisfaction in being a “muscle-building original.”
“I invented, improvised and rooted about, along with a small, disconnected band of rebels with a cause: to build solid muscle and might through the austere, hard labor of love — the lifting of iron,” he wrote in a column included in “A Glimpse in the Rear View.”
In 1972 Mr. Draper sued Mr. Weider for not paying him for his endorsement of Mr. Weider’s gymnasium and bodybuilding merchandise. He settled for $17,500 earlier than the jury was to ship a verdict.
Mr. Draper didn’t cease lifting weights till a 12 months earlier than he died.
Once sober, he was employed as a particular programmer at a gymnasium in Santa Cruz. He married Laree Setterlund in 1988 and opened two World Gyms along with her within the Nineteen Nineties, which they owned and bumped into the 2000s.
In addition to his spouse, he’s survived by his sisters, Dana Harrison and Carla Scott; his brothers, Don and (*79*); two grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. His daughter, Jamie Johnson, died in 2016. His marriage to Penny Koenemund resulted in divorce.
In one column, Mr. Draper contemplated what his life would have been like with out weight lifting. The thought, he mentioned, was insufferable.
“No sets? No reps? No cunning determination of how to bombard the delts or blast the biceps?” he wrote. “Days on end without pursuing extreme pain through maximum muscle exertion?” He added: “Full body, full strength, full breath and fulfillment are lost, gone, no more: nary a remnant to remind, disappoint or shame. Shoot me!”