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“If man made it, don’t eat it. Eat more fresh fruits, fresh vegetables…”
Jack LaLanne


Sure there’s news today from Sundance as well as the Academy Award nominations, but I’d like to take the time to pay respects to Jack LaLanne who just died. Long before his Power Juicer Infomercial days, he was known as one of the first fitness gurus to take advantage of television in the 1950s and today has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He also played himself in several TV shows ranging from The Addams Family to The Simpsons.  And he had several nutritional, health & cooking books published.

I was fortunate to meet Jack LaLanne when I was a 21-year-old film school student in LA. I was working as an intern on one of the early cable TV shows called Alive and Well. (Kathy Smith was just beginning her career and was the fitness expert on that show.) The show was shot outside a hotel in Marina del Ray overlooking the water. I still remember the day LaLanne was a guest. I thought he was old them and that was in the 1980s. But man was he in shape. He had a lot of energy, and we tossed a hacky sack back and forth during downtime on the set.

His fitness exploits were well-known in those days. Things like swimming to Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf — handcuffed. Setting a world record for push-ups. He was similar but totally opposite to the 70s icon Evel Knieval. Both pulled off well-publicized stunts. One wrecked his body, one treated it as a temple.

The great thing about LaLanne is he practiced what he preached. (And he did preach as you can see from the photo above and the video below.) His message of eating fresh fruit and vegetables, and avoiding processed food/sugar is just as relevant today as when he spoke about them on The Jack LaLanne Show more than 50 years ago. We all won’t live to see 96 years like LaLanne did, but there are things we all can all do to make the years we have healthy ones.

News of LaLanne’s death came to me yesterday from a young writing partner. We’ve been working on a spec script and at one point we said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get a cameo from Jack LaLanne?”  I guess that could still happen via a TV clip, but regardless, LaLanne will be continue to be an inspirational figure for our grandfather character.

Like screenwriter Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) said of the original Toy Story movie, Woody could “Take the high road (the healthy responsible choice) or the low road (unhealthy, irresponsible choice).” That’s universally true of all of us.

Scott W. Smith

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