Written by Peter McGough
10 March 2014


 The Golden Boy Passes

Larry Scott: 1938 - 2014


larryscottpasses8Larry Scott, the first ever Mr. Olympia (1965 & ’66) died earlier today (March 8) in his adopted hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah. Known as the Golden Boy of bodybuilding, he was 75 years old and had been in poor health in recent years due to the effects of Alzheimer’s. (Larry is the second Mr. Olympia to have passed: Sergio Oliva preceding him in 2012.)

 It’s difficult in this day and age to communicate how massive a star Larry Scott was to the bodybuilding community of the ‘60s. He represented the popularity and acclaim of Lee Haney, Ronnie Coleman and Dorian Yates rolled into one. By the eve of the initial Mr. Olympia staged at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1965 Scott was to bodybuilding what The Beatles were to popular music. As he came onstage the audience went nuts. They stomped their feet, some stood on their seats. A 13-year-old Lou Ferrigno, watching proceedings open mouthed, swears he had never seen anything like if before or since. As if to anoint his king like status Larry received a crown for his win. (There was no prize money: In 1966 he received $1,000 but no crown.)

 Although he competed at just under 200 pounds Larry Scott was huge. In the ‘60s my bodybuilding chums and the whole bodybuilding public loved Larry Scott and we would stare in awe at magazine photos of his physique – particularly those arms – and follow his routine religiously rep for rep, if not pound for pound. He was so revered that the version of Preacher Curls he preferred were named “Scott Curls”.


larrypasses2Larry Scott was born in Blackfoot, Idaho on November 12, 1938. Of below average height but with a wiry frame he became somewhat adept at trampolining (a good prep for the ups and downs of bodybuilding) in his youth before taking up weight training at age 16. At the age of 20 he won the Mr. Idaho title. He then relocated to Los Angeles and won the 1960 Mr. California at a bodyweight of 170. In 1962 he won the Mr. America title; the most prestigious amateur national title and in 1964 he was crowned Mr. Universe. By this time he had become with Dave Draper a mainstay of the Weider magazines. The adroit Joe Weider marketed both Scott and Draper as the epitome of the California beach boy ideal not letting the fact that Scott was from Idaho and Draper was from New Jersey spoil his image-making strategy. In fact to further emphasize that “California beach look” Joe had Larry dye his hair blond.

 In the wake of that 1964 Universe win Larry became the biggest star in the bodybuilding firmament and shortly afterward he went to dinner with Joe and Betty Weider, lamenting that there were no more peaks to climb in IFBB competition. Whereupon the visionary publisher outlined his plans to create a new pro contest, which would target replacing the NABBA Universe (staged annually in London, England) as the planet’s premier bodybuilding title. But what to call it? Joe and Larry had been drinking an Olympia beer and so suddenly Joe came upon the name of the contest that has its 50th rendition this year. Later Larry would proclaim that he argued for a contest bearing a healthier sounding name like “Mr. Broccoli”, but Joe was adamant and the first Mr. Olympia was staged in September 1965 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.

larrypasses5LATER DAYS

Larry Scott retired after the 1966 Olympia and became active in the Mormon Church and moved to Salt Lake city with his wife and they eventually had five children. There was an ill-fated attempt to return to competition when he placed 9th at the 1979 Canada Diamond Cup, but he remained a welcome visitor at many bodybuilding contest and events.

 He launched a mail order business selling his courses, which flourished, and probably his last public appearance was at the Masters World in December 2011, promoted by Jarka Schneider in Miami, where he received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

 It’s often said in obituaries that no one ever said a bad word about the deceased but in Larry’s case it appears to be true. He was a true gentleman, devoid of conceit or posturing. He was the Golden Boy of a Golden Era, and the burning light of that goldenness inspired countless multitudes, and will never fade. Larry Scott’s legacy and life’s achievements will never die as long as weights are lifted, and he will forever be remembered and celebrated as the first Mr. Olympia. Rest in Peace Mr. Scott.