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1941_06_21--009_SP [The Great Macfadden]

100 THE SATURDAY EVENING POST June 21,1941 This mask ed beauty was ash oe ker in 1900. Bernarr Macfadden at thirty. (Continued from Page 98) strength and vigor that comes to every athlete." The germ theory was an awkward development. It seemingly contradicted Macfadden's one-disease-onecure idea. The editor did not wholly deny the existence of germs. He developed a clever countertheory to the effect that germs were usually innocent bystanders. " Poison in the system," generally resulting from overeating, caused the trouble; the germs were to be considered present, but not voting. Concerning smallpox, for example, Macfadden wrote that it "is only possible to those who clothe heavily, bathe infrequently, eat very heavily and exercise rarely." Asserting that a physical-culture man like himself had nothing to fear from germs, he repeatedly challenged the medical profession to bring on their test tubes and try to inoculate him with typhoid, smallpox or other disease of their choice. His challenge was never accepted. One of Macfadden's discoveries was the secret of a flourishing head of hair. He wrote a book on the subject which he offered to the public at the fairly stiff price of five dollars a copy. There is some doubt as to whether the book was worth it, in view of a humorous story which Macfadden later told on himself. A few years after writing the five-dollar book, his own hair began to fall out at a rate that threatened early baldness. This would have been a heavy blow to Macfadden, as there is very little public demand for bald-headed Greek gods. In violation of his most sacred principles, he bought a bottle of hair tonic, but as he was just about to make use of it he caught sight of his honest face in the mirror, exclaimed, "Macfadden, don't be a fool!" and threw the bottle out the window. Almost immediately thereafter his hair stopped falling. On Satan's Trail Another of Macfadden's early discoveries was the secret of sex determination. He turned an honest penny by offering for sale in the early issues of Physical Culture a booklet entitled Predetermine Your Baby's Sex, with full instructions for insuring that a contemplated descendant should be a boy or a girl. Macfadden himself had six daughters in a row, although, according to his official biography, he ardently desired sons. He attacked corsets with cartoons showing Satan inventing them. He attacked cigarettes, alleging that they caused "a yellow crust" to form around the nerves and quoting John L. Sullivan's statement that they caused a man "to dry up inside." Macfadden knew all the answers in those days. His sensational success as a publisher would have turned the head of any illiterate Missouri plow- boy. But, in addition to the proverbial opinionatedness of the self-made man, there were other reasons for his encyclopedic cocksureness. He obtained a mystic light on things through fasting. One of the explanations which '• he has given for his success in life is that, after fasting a few days, he can arrive at the correct solution of any problem. He has claimed that through fasting he has discovered how the ancient prophets foresaw the future. The first issue of Physical Culture throws additional light on Macfadden's positive opinions about so many things. In his article entitled Can a Weak Mind be Made Strong? he advises clamorous wrong-headedness as a mental discipline. He writes: Form your opin- ion upon a given subject and stick to it, argue it out, fight it out, and this opinion you take up will bring in its trend a wonderful flow of thought, of ideas. Whether these be right or wrong, it does not matter a jot. Macfadden is one of the few health teachers to vindicate his own doctrine by living to a hale and hearty old age. Most of the preachers of longevity have failed to practice it. The most strenuous of the recent crusaders for health through pure food was Alfred W. McCann, who gamely continued to broadcast for long life up to within a few minutes of his death at the early age of fifty-two years. Sylvester Graham, after whom graham bread is named, had a system of exercise and natural living closely resembling Macfadden's, but he discouraged an army of devoted followers when his end came at fiftyseven years. Walter Camp, who had a large part of the nation doing the Daily Dozen, died at sixty-five; a good age, but not one to inspire confidence in the millions who hoped to become nonagenarians or centenarians through settingup exercises. Horace Fletcher, who taught people to Fletcherize, and Emile Coue, who taught them to get better every day in every way, both failed to crack seventy. But Macfadden teaches by example as well as by precept; he demonstrates his system. He is one of the first professional longevity men to show the courage of his convictions by becoming a septuagenarian. He has been a crusader for and against patent medicines and panaceas. From the first he wielded a fearless pen against the electric belt which purported to cure disease by putting electricity into patients, but he printed advertisements for spun-glass inner soles which cured disease by preventing electricity from leaking out. He advertised Isham's California Waters of Life, which "dissolved and washed away" cancer; also curing paralysis, baldness, dyspepsia, tartar, diabetes, bunions and the cigarette, liquor and drug habits. The reader of Physical Culture could get himself a profession for twenty-five dollars; all he had to do was to send that amount to a magnetic college for six easy lessons in magnetic healing. After the first year, however, Macfadden quit advertising most patent medicines and consistently attacked them, although he continued to print the full-page ads of "nature doctors" with Vandyke beards. Making Muscle Pay During the first few issues, Macfadden supported his infant magazine by delivering men-only lectures with classic poses. But the success of Physical Culture was astonishing almost from the start. Nothing on the newsstands caught the eye like the front cover of Physical Culture with its muscle-bound demigod and its arresting slogan, Weakness a Crime—Don't be a Criminal. The editor soon had an enormous following of disciples who regulated their lives by his doctrine. The demand for his views was so great that he was forced to write book after book, and he reports having sold nearly a million copies of his eight-volume encyclopedia of physical culture. Tens of thousands, finding his eloquent exhortations irresistible, devoted hours to exercise and went on the nobreakfast regime; lunch and dinner were marathons of mastication, with 120 crunches or more to each mouthful of insipid nutriment. The great proof of Macfadden's sincerity is the harsh doctrine which he preached. He was the fierce evangelist of a hellfire-anddamnation theology of health; he called on his flock to make life a horrid grind at the exercising machines and through painful periods of fasting. No scheming popularity seeker would have shown his followers such a steep and thorny way to the physical-culture heaven. Macfadden has been completely triumphant in many of his crusades and a total failure in others. His greatest disappointment has been his battle against medicine. The powerful antivaccination forces, of which he was the leader, have been reduced to a tattered remnant. To some extent, Macfadden has admitted that he was on the wrong track. He has staffs of regular physicians at his physical-culture sanitariums. In a burst of good will, his Physical Culture said editorially in 1937 that the regular physicians "represent the finest body of men in any profession." Macfadden's lifelong batting average for all his crusades would be something like this: Against prudishness . . . . 1.000 Against medicine .000 Against corsets .890 Against muscular inactivity .333 Against alcohol .250 Against cigarettes .000 Against white bread . . . 1.000 This gives him a grand batting average of .496, a mark seldom equaled by any crusader. What's in a Name? Macfadden's showmanship in words, or his instinct for the "manipulation of symbols," as the psychologists call it, appeared early in his career. He didn't call himself a gymnasium teacher; he called himself a kinistherapist, later a physcultopathist. He didn't call his gymnasium a "gym" but a physicalculture studio. As a newspaper proprietor, he objected to the word " morgue," which is generally used to describe the clipping department; he insisted on calling it " the archives." Early in his life he became dissatisfied with the ordinariness of his own name, which was Bernard Adolphus McFadden. He experimented with it for several years in order to give it more distinction. B. A. McFadden was too common. B. Adolphus McFadden didn't suggest the kind of man who tears lions to pieces. For a while he called himself Prof. B. McFadden in his classic photos and in advertisements. For a while it was just plain Professor McFadden. About a year after he had founded Physical Culture he settled finally on Bernarr Macfadden. He has endowed one of his daughters with the name of Braunda and one with the name of Byrnece. Physical Culture was his only magazine until 1919, when he founded True Story and embarked on the sensationally successful confessions stage of his career. Editor's Note—This is the first of two articles by Mr. Johnston. The second will ap. pear next week. Printed in U.S. A.


1941_06_21--009_SP [The Great Macfadden]
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