The Peter Lupus Shrine

Workout With Peter Lupus

Memo to: The Editor
From: Leslie Raddatz

Lupus working out Please excuse my submitting this in the form of a dictated memorandum, instead of my usual polished typewritten prose. But there’s a reason.

In more than six years and six months with this publication I have, above and beyond the call of duty, performed such challenging and hazardous tasks as test-driving the Munster Koach and fighting off a starlet’s pet ocelot with one hand while swigging martinis (very dry) with the other.

Now I’ve topped everything. I have “worked out” with Peter Lupus, the mesomorphic member of CBS’s Mission: Impossible group, and better I should have stuck with the ocelot. Or the martinis. Especially the martinis. You can get stiff on martinis but not as stiff as you get working out when you’ve never worked out in you life before.

Not that working out seems to hurt Peter Lupus. He does it three times a week for an hour or more, and I’ve got to admit he looks pretty good. As for martinis, he never touches ‘em. Instead, after a workout, he goes to the juice bar for drinks with names like “Caesar’s Fountain of Vigor” or “Hercules’ Muscle Punch” or “Nero’s Special,” which are mostly orange juice fortified with goodies like wheat germ and raw egg. The reason the drinks have those classical names is that the place Pete works out—the European Health Spa in Reseda, Cal.—looks like an ancient Roman bath.

I always had the idea that those baths were places ancient Romans sort of lolled around, perhaps squeezing an occasional medicinal grape. That’s not the way it is at this spa. Here they have machines—bicycles that don’t go anyplace, weight-lifting machines, leg-bending and-stretching machines, all kinds of exercise machines. Peter skipped some of them in our workout. He said, “I’m only doing my legs today, because I did my upper yesterday.”

Upper or lower, I soon discovered that this isn’t all it takes to look like Peter Lupus—at least it didn’t make me look like him. For one thing, he also takes 150 organic vitamin and mineral pills a day—75 in the morning and 75 at night. Once he tested himself to find out how many he could take at one swallow. He managed 38. He was taking 250 pills a day then, but he has cut down since. Getting too healthy probably.

Today at 30, Peter Lupus is 6-feet-4, has a 33-inch waist and a 50-inch chest, and weighs 218 pounds. He used to be heavier—more than 250 pounds. That was when he was known as Rock Stevens and was making pictures like Muscle Beach Party and such Italian epics as Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon, Goliath at the Conquest of Damascus, and The Gladiator Who Challenged an Empire.

He has always been a big boy. After I partly covered from my workout, I called his mother in Indianapolis, and she told me he weighed almost 10 pounds when he was born, and was well over 6 feet and 175 pounds when he was in high school and helping his father around the grocery store. His mother remembers that she had to prepare him five meals a day. When he went into the Army in 1958, he had to wait six months to into basic training while uniforms were made for him.

He got interested in acting at Butler University, which he attended for three years. As King Creon in Sophocles’ “Antigone,” he had to carry his dead son off the stage. Usually a lightweight dummy is used for the dead son, but Pete did it for real with a 6-foot, 175-pound fellow student. He says, “I figured not many actors could do that. I decided there mught be something for me in this business.” In Mission: Impossible he has done similar weight-lifting feats, like carrying Wally Cox in a suitcase and Eartha Kitt in a air duct.

Bruce Geller, executive producer of Mission: Impossible, was looking for a muscle man for the role of Willy Armitage in the series, but he says, “I was looking for a human quality—not just a hunk of beef.” He auditioned a lot of men and now can’t remember any of them. “They all merge in my mind,” he says. But in Peter Lupus he found “a sort of Fernidand sweetness,” and he says, “People just like him.” As for Pete. he says, “I figure that on the screen you give the people just enough physique to attract them but not enough to scare them.”

Sharon and PeterOne of the most carefully guarded secrets of the Lupus career was his marriage. In all the publicity releases, he was listed as being single, but he has been married for seven years to a beautiful Indianapolis girl named Sharon. He says, “She’s the only girl I ever had more than two dates with.” The blonde Sharon is also a physical-culture enthusiast and is in charge of women’s activities at the European Health Spa. Obviously, Pete is not ashamed of his wife, but he still confesses her existence somewhat reluctantly. “I get such terrific fan mail,” he says.

It was Sharon who gave away another Lupus secret. The last steps in the workout are a dip in the hot whirlpool, followed by a plunge into an ice-cold pool. Naturally, I was reluctant to do this. But Pete told me how bracing it was, how it toned up the skin and made you feel better all over. So finally, while he watched, I did it—sat briefly in the 100-plus degree whirlpool and then bravely plunged into the 40-minus degree ice bath.

Afterwards, as we were talking outside, Sharon Lupus told me that Peter has never plunged into the ice water.

Which may be one reason he looks so good today and I’m a wreck.


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