Thursday, November 30, 2006

Past blast

The other night I was channel-surfing when I came upon one of the icons of my youth.

Jack La Lanne.

If you are 50 or over, the name might make you smile. La Lanne was something of a pioneer in the early days of television. In fact, I think he's about the only one from that era left.

He had a syndicated exercise program way back when in the 1950's and 60's. The show was something of a link to the days when sports magazines and comic books would have ads about how to stop bullies from kicking sand in weaklings' faces. I never knew anyone who actually bought that stuff, but somebody must have.

Exercise wasn't exactly popular back then, but La Lanne tried to get his audience in shape. Memory tells me that he often had his dog appear on the show as a guest star. What's more, he'd be happy to sell you some sort of product that would go along with the exercises. The instant breakfast comes to mind, but I'd bet there were others. In that sense too, La Lanne was ahead of his time.

Jack and wife Elaine appear on an infomercial selling their Juicer, which turns all sorts of stuff into a beverage. Jack's hair is, um, surprisingly dark for a man 92, but he still looks like he could kick sand in my face without any fear of a response.

As you might expect, La Lanne's Web site ( is filled with merchandise, including a link to the Juicer. If you are feeling nostaligic, some old shows are available on DVD.

I may have missed "Home Run Derby," but at least I got to see Jack now and then.

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