Foreward by Lonnie Teper
The rumor that Armand Tanny had passed away a few weeks ago proved to be false. However, I had heard from several sources that Armand was in very poor health of late, so his death on Saturday saddened, but did not shock me. Tanny was residing in an assisted living facility in Augora Hills, California when he died at the age of 90.
I last spoke with Armand at the Orleans Hotel during the 2007 Olympia Weekend; he was confined to a wheelchair but, as always, was in good spirits. We chatted how we had first met some 32 years earlier–on the same July, 1975 day at Muscle Beach where I got my inititial real life look at Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I approached both icons that day and found them to be extremely cordial. The Governator displayed his characteristic charm and Tanny struck me immediately as a mild mannered, kind man. I got to know both much better, of course, when I entered the world of bodybuilding media member in the 1980s. And, Tanny proved to be exactly what I perceived in that first meeting. A really nice, modest fella who always had a smile on his face.
Condolences from the entire IRON MAN family. Another legend has left us. RIP Armand.
Below is an article by Gene Mozee from 1999 on the achievements of a truly amazing man.
Armand Tanny has achieved an unsurpassed level of excellence in every aspect of the iron game. He’s won powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting events as well as bodybuilding championships, and he’s the dean of bodybuilding writers, having published more than 5,000 articles on the subject since 1949.
Armand began his 70-year physical-culture odyssey at the age of 12, when his big brother Vic gave him a set of barbells for his birthday. Unable to control his enthusiasm, he exercised all day long—which caused him to spend the next week in bed recuperating from the resulting soreness. From that point on he trained under Vic’s guidance and made excellent progress.
Armand excelled at high school sports, but weightlifting captivated him. As a teenager he clean-and-jerked 300 pounds. In 1938 he became the first man in the state of New York to officially perform a 300-pound clean and jerk. He was awarded a trophy for this feat by Arthur Gay, a prominent weight-training authority and gym owner.
After a year of premed studies at the University of Rochester in New York, he moved to the West Coast and completed his premed work at the University of California at Los Angeles. He later studied at the Children’s Hospital School of Physical Therapy.
The first time Armand appeared at Santa Monica’s Muscle Beach, everyone was amazed at the poundages he could lift. Soon thereafter he won the Pacific Coast Light Heavyweight weightlifting title, and he took the Heavyweight title the following year. He was training hard for the 1940 Olympic Games when they were canceled due to the war.
While competing in a college wrestling match, Armand suffered a severe knee injury that eventually caused him to quit weightlifting. He switched to bodybuilding with spectacular success. His training buddies Pepper Gomez, Joe Gold, Gene Meyers and Malcom Brenner urged him to compete, but it wasn’t until 1949 that he entered his first contest. Because he had wrestled professionally to pay his college tuition, he wasn’t eligible for amateur events. He entered Bert Goodrich’s Professional Mr. USA contest and finished fifth—behind John Grimek, Clancy Ross, Steve Reeves and George Eiferman.
Joe Weider was quick to recognize Armand as a future star and invited him to guest pose at a physique show in New York. Weider asked Armand to write some articles for his magazines. Given his premed and physical therapy education and his iron game experience, Armand brought unique qualifications to the field.
In 1949 Armand won an unusual open contest, the Mr. 1949, in Los Angeles. The winner was determined by an applause meter mounted in an eight-foot-high receiver. Soon afterward, he was interviewed by movie producers who were searching for a new Tarzan to replace Johnny Weissmuller. Edgar Rice Burroughs Jr.—whose father created Tarzan—was impressed with Armand’s rugged good looks, tremendous physique and athletic grace and wanted him for the role. He was overruled by MGM’s execs, who selected Lex Barker. Armand did, however, work in a few movies as an extra or bit player. He and Vince Gironda worked together for several months on the classic “Frenchman’s Creek.”
His bodybuilding career reached its zenith in 1950, when he won both the Professional Mr. America and the Professional Mr. USA titles. The Mr. USA was the highest title in the world in those days, the equivalent of today’s Mr. Olympia.
In the early ’50s Vic Tanny opened a chain of gyms featuring state-of-the-art equipment that revolutionized the gym business. Armand helped develop most of the advanced equipment and modern training systems used in all 84 of those gyms. He also devised weight-training courses for the combat crews of the Strategic Air Command.
In 1954 he became a member of Mae West’s cabaret show, along with Eiferman, Zabo Koszewski, Joe Gold, Chuck Krauser, Richard Dubois,
Dominick Juliano, Les Shaffer and Harry Schwartz. The nightclub act set attendance records all over the country, topping even Frank Sinatra’s.
During his 50-year tenure as a feature writer for Weider publications Armand has helped develop dozens of training and nutrition concepts. He is presently a senior writer for Muscle & Fitness and a member of the Weider Research Group.
His daughter Mandy describes him as a “true Renaissance man—with a bit of caveman thrown in.” He is certainly a living legend in the field. IM