Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mae West: Armand Tanny

How many of MAE WEST's bodybuilder buddies are still around?
• • Handsome hunk Armand Tanny, a former Muscle Beach mainstay, died in early April.
• • Born on 5 March 1919 in Rochester, New York, Armand was the younger brother of gym-fitness pioneer Vic Tanny — — and began posing in Strength & Health Magazine at 14 years old.
• • As many musclemen did back then, Armand entered the beefcake business as a weightlifter. Still a teenager, he began competing. Eventually, he placed second in the 1941 Junior nationals in Ohio. Reportedly, the 22-year-old champ was able to clean a 300-pound barbell one-handed.
• • When World War II summoned hardy Americans to the front, Armand joined the Coast Guard.
• • After his military service ended, Armand Tanny was a regular at his brother's Santa Monica gym and he wed Shirley Luvin, a Muscle Beach groupie. In 1950, they had a daughter. Disciplined and dedicated, he won the national titles Pro Mr. America [1949] and Mr. USA [1950] doing it the most difficult way — — by daily training and good nutrition and, yes, without steroids. He was an early advocate of raw foods.
• • Jon Thurber, who penned Armand Tanny's obituary for The Los Angeles Times, writes: During the 1950s, he was one of the original nine bodybuilders from Muscle Beach who were part of Mae West's traveling nightclub act. According to the book "Remembering Muscle Beach" by Harold Zinkin with Bonnie Hearn-Hill (Angel City Press, 1999), the nine were known as Mae's Muscle Beach Men. They included such prominent bodybuilders as Joe Gold, George Eiferman, Richard DuBois — — whom Zinkin and Hearn-Hill called "the star" of the group — — Harry Schwartz, Dom Juliano, Lester "Shifty" Schaefer, Irvin "Zabo" Koszewski, Chuck Krauser, and Tanny. According to Hearn-Hill, Armand Tanny organized a strike with Joe Gold when Mae West cut their $250-a-week salaries in half to boost the take at a New York club [i.e., the Latin Quarter]. "Armand and Joe were ready to board the plane," Hearn-Hill told The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. "Mae quickly caved in and they got their full salaries."
• • After touring coast to coast with the Mae West Revue, Tanny, who had a quiet, bookish side, earned a living by writing about physical fitness and bodybuilding for the publication empire helmed by his buddy Joe Weider: Muscle Power, Muscle & Fitness, etc.
• • His daughter Mandy Tanny released a statement about her vivacious father, who was fairly active and still driving his car at age 89. Armand Tanny died of natural causes last Saturday (a month after his 90th birthday), on 4 April 2009, at a nursing facility in Westlake Village, California.
• • In addition to his daughter, Mandy, who is also a bodybuilder and writer, Tanny is survived by his grandson, Mario, a bodybuilder.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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Mae West.


  1. Armand Tanny will be missed. Not only the Man, but the Legend.

    Rest in peace,
    Lynmarie Luvin

  2. Just had Carol & Dom Juliano as dinner guests at our house tonight. They are nearby neighbors in Southern Utah; moved to Torrey a few years ago from Vegas.