When my wife Cejay and I founded the Steve
Reeves International Society in 1994, we never thought just six years
later we would be writing and dedicating a memorial tribute to its leader,
and certainly my close friend, Steve Reeves.
This special tribute issue is to honor
Steve, to echo all his accomplishments and to keep alive the legacy and
spirit of a man who meant so much, to so many, for so long. Steve would be
pleased to know that the many things he felt so strongly about would
continue to be remembered and practiced in his name through the SRIS.
For almost 15 years, Steve was a great
friend, mentor and business partner. Always kind to children, my six and
nine year old girls Mariah and Kira loved seeing him. I always respected
Steve's ideas and looked to him many times for advice and direction. Steve
was generous with his time making my mission that much easier. You always
knew that you were in the presence of an extraordinary person no matter
how many times you were with him.
Hearing the stories of his life has been an
experience that will live with me forever. There were times when I would
ask a question about his life and he would reply with an event that was
beyond anything I would have ever imagined. I remember saying to him one
day, "Steve, why haven't I heard
this story before?" His reply was, " Nobody has asked me".
A man of few words, Steve considered himself just another person-.- like
anyone else. Yet he was truly a man of greatness.
Yes, Steve's death was very unexpected. I
never doubted that his strength and courage would pull him through as they
had throughout his life. Unfortunately, he didn't even have a chance to
fight; God had different plans. I can thank God that He did allow me to be
there for Steve during his final days, minutes and moments on earth.
My sincere thanks to all of you for the
many prayers, cards and letters of sympathy during this unfortunate and
untimely event. I know the family and friends of Steve Reeves also
appreciate your generous acts of kindness.
A day won't go by when we won't think of
Steve. Moreover, we will always consider him a true legend and an
exceptional human being that did exceptional things during an exceptional
lifetime. Yes, Steve you were truly one of a kind and we thank you for
letting us be a part of your unique world.
George & Cejay Helmer Steve Reeves
On Saturday, May 6 about 100 close friends
and relatives of Steve gathered for a small private memorial service at
the McLeod Mortuary Chapel in Escondido, California.
Just some of those who came to pay their
final respects were George & Tuesday Coates; George, Cejay, Tye, Kira
& Mariah Helmer; Deborah Englehorn and family; Gordon Reeves & family; Russ Warner; Leo Stern; Joe & Betty Weider; Lou
Ferrigno; Gene Mozee; Reg Lewis; Richard Harrison; Roland and Virginia
Essmaker; Dave Dowling; Robert Panarello; John Balk; Ed Fury; and Milton
The beautiful service began at 3:30 p.m.
with Hank Williams' I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry and ended with the
Chordetts' Mr Sandman, two of Steve's favorite songs. Officiating the
service was Rev. Richard Huls from Valley Center, Steve's hometown. Rev.
Huls' tribute to Steve was very warm, thoughtful and certainly quite
"Good afternoon. We're here today to
honor a man who was bigger than life.
"For most of us, our introduction to
Steve Reeves was movies, a character known as Hercules: half man, half
god. Looking at his pictures here, it hurts all of us I'm sure. But even
more so, the unexpected death of Steve brought so many of you a
relationship that is extremely meaningful. I wish to express my
condolences to family members, friends, and to all of you who have come to
share with us today.
"I understand that Steve was a very
humble man, he didn't tell people how humble he was, and I want you all to
know that it humbles me to be here. I am a resident of Escondido and
valley Center. Our paths never crossed. But simply as a member of the
community, I can appreciate how a service like this can humble anyone. And
as we all join together, I'm sure this is how he would have wanted it, not
to somehow make him more than what he was, but simply recognize that he
was a member of the community as much as he was a star. We join together
today to remember him, pay our respects to him, and recognize the
qualities of his life that all of us in many ways vie for in ourselves.
And hopefully, we have already taken some of those.
"I'd like to pause, as Steve often
did, for a word of prayer. Pray for God's company and strength.
'Our father in heaven we pause here, to
think of a man you gave life to, who went through many experiences in hfe,
not without trials and tribulations but certainly with successes and
recognition. A man who not only was able to achieve but wanted to achieve
on behalf of others and to enable them to become achievers as well. We
want the very best for the body you have given and for the spirit that
makes it possible for us to be people of success. We are thankful for
those who have come to join together this afternoon and as we bow in
prayer we would ask that your peace will rule over all of us in the name
of our Lord we pray'
"I'd like to begin today with a poem
that Steve wrote. I think it's commendable that one would reflect upon his
own life and his mortality and the conclusion of his life.
When my days on earth are over, With my
faithful dogs by my side, I will ride through new deep clover On a horse
called Classic Pride. They have been my true companions, Along mountain
trails and rivers wide, My friends will look at me with envy When we cross
the great divide.
"I'm sure that Steve didn't know that
when he wrote this poem when the crossing of that great divide would take
place. But as it has happened, he recognized some aspects of his life. He
"His date of birth was Jan 21, 1926--
born in Montana, and it is my understanding that his remains will go
there. He died May 1, the year 2000. Steve was 74 years old. And, as so
many of you know, his death was totally unexpected.
Some way or another, he touched you--maybe
as a neighbor or as a friend-- whose life found meaning in a meaningful
relationship. There are really two ways to look at that. As you look at
these pictures, here's a man who lived in Valley Center for 43 years--much
of his life. The people who touched him, who said things to him, who
shared time with him and rejoiced with him, found things meaningful--just
as your lives were touched by him.
"But his life was really a
representation of your lives; and your lives in many ways are a
representation of his. It is I think worthy of those of you who knew him
to say a few words about him. Certainly from my perspective, it would only
be second hand. But many of you knew him perhaps more directly.
Many beautiful tributes were then given
about Steve. We've included a few here from people who knew Steve for many
"I've been a friend of Steve's since
1955. When I first met Steve I was a manager in a gymnasium for Vic Tanny.
Steve had just come back from New York City about the time he was in the
film 'Athena'. He stayed with me at my place and we got along very well.
It was a time when his career as an actor wasn't going too well so I
introduced him to friends of mine who owned gyms and he went to work for
them. Then, thank God, he got the part of 'Hercules' in Italy very soon
afterward, I was under contract for a couple of studios and I went to
Italy and joined him. We had a wonderful time together in Spain, Italy and
Malaysia and all over in films.
"Many people would say it's true that
if you looked in the dictionary under perfection the first definition
you'd expect to see is Steve Reeves. He definitely was the most handsome
and developed adult man who was ever born. Probably it would take a
laboratory to make another one like him. But Steve was much more than
that. I think his main thing in life was living. He loved to do many
"When he worked out in a gym, he
didn't talk much about working out. He did what he had to do because it
was his job. He did win Mr. America and Mr. Universe. He was paid as an
actor and he did a very good job as an actor too. But he never once wanted
to talk about bodybuilding. He knew his body very well; he knew it like a
doctor. He would work out just like a doctor, moving every little muscle,
but he never wanted to show off in any way. He was incredibly strong by
the way I've heard people in the past say "Well he couldn't be very
strong with a beautiful body like that' He was incredibly strong. I
remember in the gym when he and Gordon Scott would work out they would
take 120 pounds in each hand and do 20 reps at a time. Steve would do
everything perfect without any exertion whatsoever.
"I never heard Steve once say a bad
word about anybody. He was a very private person and he didn't talk a lot
either. He was extremely intelligent, didn't like to waste words and
didn't like to hear stupid words either. He was a beautiful human being.
"I am so thankful that Steve came into
my life because like everybody else, he was my hero and I was so proud to
be his friend. I was also so proud to know so many of the people that were
friends of his. I'm going to miss him very much. But I'll tell you one
thing, he's going to be here forever because there was only one living god
that I ever met and that was Steve Reeves. He'll be around for a long time
for all of us to admire. Thank you."
"I am a longtime friend of Steve's and
I was proud to have known him for many, many years. I first read about him
in a copy of Joe Weider's magazines 'Muscle Power' and 'Your Physique' in
"When I was 16 years old, one day my
brother and l journeyed down to Muscle Beach on the bus and the first
person we looked for was Steve Reeves. We went up and approached him and
he was so kind to us and treated us like his little brothers. I had this
relationship with him ever since that day. I've called his home on
occasions and he was always pleasant to talk to. He would remember my
family always asking how my brother and mother were. He was just the
greatest human being that anyone could meet.
"As a bodybuilder he was unmatched.
Michelangelo once made a drawing of what he considered to be the perfect
human being: so many cubits tall, so many hands wide and exact
proportions. David P. Willoughby, one of the experts in the field of
bodybuilding, found that Steve's measurements were almost identical to the
depiction of the perfect man by Michelangelo.
"Not only was Steve perfect
physically, but I never met a man who was more thoughtful. I never heard
him utter a negative word against anyone. He was always grateful for his
success and very modest. If you started to compliment him, he'd stop you
if you went too far, but he appreciated your compliment. He was not a man
who had an actor's ego.
"Steve was a man who knew who he was
and what he was. I don't know if he really understood how much he meant to
the world. In my three gyms, Steve Reeves was always the man whose picture
was in the place of honor. He was always the hero of our gyms because he
was like the King of the Spartans, Leonidas, who lead the 300 Spartans
against 30,000 Persians. Steve Reeves was every bit the great man that all
of you knew.
"I want everyone to know that Steve
Reeves was a man who would give his time and help people. For a couple of
unknown kids, like my brother and me to walk up to a big superstar like
Steve and for him immediately to be so kind, so generous with his time and
become lifelong friends it says it all. I don't know of an actor or a
bodybuilder in the world today you could walk up to and become instant
friends. Steve was that type of man. He was the greatest man I ever met.
"I worked out at the same gym as Steve
Reeves, Ed Yarick's gym. When I first went there, I asked about the
equipment that Steve Reeves used. People told me, 'See that machine over
there, that's it.' Well, I quickly went over to use it and then asked how
much weight did Steve use. They told me, 'Put on 140 pounds.'
Well, with that weight I couldn't do
anything on that machine. I then asked if Steve used those dumbbells over
there. They relied, 'Yes he did. They're 120-pound dumbbells'. I next
tried those and once again I couldn't do anything with that weight.
"To me Steve Reeves was like meeting a
real movie star. One look at his face and body was the epitome of what a
movie star should look like. I will always remember him as the perfect
movie star. Thank you."
"I have been a friend of Steve Reeves
since 1947. This was when he first corresponded with us and he came to
Montreal to have photographs taken after his Mr. America title. We all
know from what everybody has said here today what a wonderful human being
"Steve Reeves was one of the first
models that made the world see the human body: what it is and what it
could accomplish. He helped to start a whole physical movement that
changed the world by his example as a human being and as a physical
specimen. Nobody approached him at that time, and he influenced everybody
through his character and personality. With his great body and great face,
he was almost like a Greek god. The combination of his looks and character
made him so startling.
"But most important, he was like the
boy next door. With all these characteristics, he inspired me in my
business and millions of people throughout the world to be great. It was
because of him that the world has changed to a physical way of thinking
about the human being. I and hundreds of millions of people throughout the
world knew him, loved him and admired him.
He has been a great inspiration, and he
will remain a great inspiration as long as physical fitness and the love
of the human body character remains. Thank you.
really know. I ask if an individual has
been religious or been to church or some aspect of that. Being a Pastor
you like to know those things.
"I'm sure these words from the Book of
Corinthians were meant for Steve Reeves. 'Do you know that you are a
temple of God or that your body is a temple of God in his spirit and that
the spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God,
God will destroy him. But the temple of God is holy and that is what you
"As we're here this afternoon, we
think of Steve Reeves. I'm sure many of you have seen young people walking
down the street with weights in their hands doing powerwalking. The
inspiration for that kind of powerwalking came from Steve Reeves. He was a
person who enriched an appreciation, as we've heard, for bodybuilding.
But more than that, bodybuilding that was drug- free and done just on the
merits of one's capabilities.
"I especially find a sentiment here to
day because of Steve's service in the Army. He was involved in combat in
the Philippines and in the occupational forces of Japan after the war. But
for all of us, as we take a look at these scripture passages here today,
we would say that Steve surely was a spiritual man. He regarded the body
as a gift of God, to be taken care of, to be enriched, to be recognized,
not flattered but honored. For each of us here today, we humbly can say
thank you to this man. That understood, this is what Paul meant when he
wrote these words: 'Do you not know that your body was the temple of God?'
Perhaps in some strange way, even ironical, the figure of Steve Reeves was
a definition of these words: That the body, physical as we well know, has
a time on this earth. Let the spirit dwell within. May
*God give to him all that he ever wanted to
be as he was on this earth and for all eternity.
"In conclusion today, I was very gratified to have heard this expression of Steve Reeves. 'He was a man who was
what he said he believed.' And that is something that all of us can well
imitate and emulate in our lives. Thank you all for coming today".
Following Rev. Huls' kind words, Steve's
second cousin Gordon Reeves, was then presented with the U.S. flag in
honor of Steve's military service. It was a touching moment to end a
Dr. Joe Vitale is a friend and supporter of SRIS. Click on the ad and get your FREE copy of "Attract Money Now"