Bill Pearl – Four Time Mr. Universe

by Kilo on February 11, 2011

bill pearl

Bill Pearl at 65 in a very small shirt

I’d been lifting for a few years before I ever heard of Bill Pearl. In Marty Gallagher’s book The Purposeful Primitive Bill gets his own section among some other legends of bodybuilding and strength training. That was why I was surprised that I had never seen him or heard his name before. At the time I was reading anything and everything I could find about the world of muscles and might.

As it turned out, Mr. Pearl was one of the major names in bodybuilding in the 1950s and 60s. He competed against Frank Zane, Reg Park (I first heard his name from The Complete Keys To Progress), and anyone who was anyone in the competitive physique world.

My favorite bits of information about Bill are all about his oldtime strongman performances. He could perform many old time feats of strength like tearing license plates and bending steel. It always makes me laugh that so many of the oldtime feats just involve breaking stuff. It’s great fun, and it looks like people in the 50s and earlier enjoyed ripping stuff up as much as modern day loonies do today.

The other thing that really made me laugh during some cursory research was that Mr. Pearl wrote a column called…Pearl of The Universe. Now, there’s nothing I enjoy more than reading a good old Q & A with a strength training legend, but that is the least catchy title I think they could have come up with.

But no matter. Bill Pearl is a big name in the iron game, and he inspired a lot of people to get into the gym and seek strength and health.

Good stuff.


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