Sunday, May 03, 2009

Mae West: Zabo Koszewski

Irvin 'Zabo' Koszewski toured with MAE WEST during the 1950s. Like the Brooklyn bombshell, the East Coast native was a stage-worthy Leo born in August.
• • Jon Thurber writes in the Los Angeles Times: 'The longtime Santa Monica resident was a constant presence at Muscle Beach, where in his prime he'd pump out 500 Roman Chair sit-ups in about 15 minutes."
• • Zabo's midsection wowed even veteran muscle-movers. "He had a 10-pack of abs when everyone else had a six-pack," recalled John Balik, publisher of Iron Man Magazine. In his prime, Zabo was a natural fit for the Mae West Revue. In 1953, he won the Amateur Athletic Union's Mr. Pacific Coast title. In 1954, he snagged the AAU Mr. California title, following those honors with numerous "best abdominal" titles in three decades of bodybuilding competitions.
• • According to a recent issue of the Los Angeles Times, Irvin 'Zabo' Koszewski died on 29 March 2009 of pneumonia at a hospital in Doylestown, Pennyslyvania. The longtime resident of Santa Monica and a Muscle Beach mainstay was 84, writes Jon Thurber in his detailed obit.
• • "The history of Muscle Beach was about its people as much as the sun and the sand," Balik wrote in his magazine, noting that Koszewski "was the embodiment of the spirit of Muscle Beach."
• • He was born in Camden, N.J., on August 20, 1924, and was a gifted athlete as a young man. At Collingwood High School, near his home in Woodland, N.J., he was an all-state guard in football, he wrestled, and he swam competitively. He began lifting weights as a teenager in the late 1930s and didn't stop.
• • He enlisted in the Army after Pearl Harbor and served in the South Pacific. After his discharge he wrestled professionally for a time and started competing in bodybuilding competitions. He was the AAU's Mr. New Jersey in 1948, and the AAU's Mr. Middle Atlantic in 1950.
• • But California beckoned, so he and three buddies piled into a car in the early 1950s and headed for Santa Monica.
• • Friends also recalled him as extremely well-read, funny and philosophical.
• • He trained consistently and constantly, friends said. And he was still working out just months before he died
• • Along Muscle Beach, Koszewski's abdominal workouts became legendary. In his prime, he would do 500 Roman Chair sit-ups, usually in about 15 minutes.
• • "He was a simple guy in what he needed," Balik said. "He pared things down to his friends, the beach and the workout. Those things were the center of his life. The standing joke about Zabo is that he wouldn't go further inland than Lincoln Boulevard."
• • And like many of the other stars of Muscle Beach, Koszewski appeared in entertainer Mae West's nightclub act as one of her Muscle Beach Boys. He also appeared in some films including bit parts in "Spartacus" and "Planet of the Apes," as well as the Cheech and Chong vehicles "Nice Dreams" and "Things Are Tough All Over," where he was the stunt double for Tommy Chong.
• • He was competing in bodybuilding competitions well into his 40s.
• • Koszewski was the manager of Joe Gold's gym and the World Gym in Santa Monica and was working until a few months before he died.
• • He came down with pneumonia early this year and moved to Pennsylvania to be near his daughter, Nancy Pyle.
• • She survives him, as does another daughter, Candice Wallace of Sacramento, and three grandchildren.
— — Source: — —
• • "Irvin 'Zabo' Koszewski dies at 84; bodybuilder renowned for his abs"
• • Byline: Jon Thurber | Obituary
• • Published in: The Los Angeles Times — —
• • Published on: 1 May 2009
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