Jack Lalanne Died

Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru who inspired television viewers to trim down, eat well and pump iron for decades before diet and exercise became a national obsession, died Sunday. He was 96.

The cause was respiratory failure due to pneumonia. LaLanne had been ill for the past week according to his longtime agent Rick Hersh said. His wife, Elaine, was at his side, along with his family and friends, Hersh said. No funeral arrangements were announced, but his agent said plans were being made.

LaLanne ate healthy and exercised every day of his life up until the end, Hersh said.

“I have not only lost my husband and a great American icon, but the best friend and most loving partner anyone could ever hope for,” Elaine LaLanne, LaLanne’s wife of 51 years and a frequent partner in his television appearances, said in a written statement.

Jack LaLanne was born in San Francisco on September 26, 1914. A self-confessed sugar- and junk-food addict as a child, he went on to study bodybuilding and weight-lifting by the time he was in his late teens.

From the 1950s through the 1980s, LaLanne performed multiple feats of strength and endurance. His first such stunt was an underwater swim the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, loaded with 140 pounds of equipment, in 1954. He went on to stage many attention-getting events, including completing over a thousand pushups in a little over 20 minutes, and towing 65 boats filled with thousands of pounds of wood pulp in Japan.

LaLanne had his own workout program, “The Jack LaLanne Show.” First broadcast nationally in 1959, the show went on to run for three decades.