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Peter Lupus second from the right
June 17, 1932 |
|Other names||Rock Stevens|
|Spouse(s)||Sharon M. Hildebrand (1960-present)|
|Children||Peter Lupus III|
Peter Lupus (born June 17, 1932, Indianapolis, Indiana) is an American bodybuilder and actor of Greek ancestry. He attended the Jordan College of Fine Arts at Butler University, where he also played football and basketball, graduating in 1954. He and his wife, Sharon, have a son, Peter Lupus III, who is also an actor.
Standing 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm) with a developed physique, Lupus earned the titles of Mr. Indianapolis, Mr. Indiana, Mr. Hercules and Mr. International Health Physique. Lupus was one of many bodybuilders who followed Steve Reeves into the sword and sandal films of the late 1950s and early 1960s, occasionally credited as Rock Stevens for such films as Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon and Muscle Beach Party where he starred as "Mr. Galaxy" Flex Martian, the biggest, strongest, and handsomest bodybuilder in the galaxy who possessed muscles of steel.
Lupus is best remembered for the role of Willy Armitage on the original Mission: Impossible television series in the 1960s. Armitage was the Impossible Missions Force's muscle man, featured in nearly all episodes of the series. He initially played the strong, silent type, usually with very little dialogue. Late in the show's run during season five, the producers decided his character was superfluous and he was dropped to recurring status, appearing in a little over half of that season's episodes. Fan outcry and the lack of success in finding a replacement for his character resulted in his return to regular status the following season and getting a greater role in the stories, often assuming roles as a convict or thug. Only Lupus and Greg Morris sustained a regular role through the show's entire run, although Morris appeared in more episodes.
Other television work included a guest spot as Tarzan on Jack Benny's television show, a boxer with a glass jaw on The Joey Bishop Show, a caveman on an episode of Fantasy Island, and the recurring role of Detective Norberg on the short-lived sitcom Police Squad!. (The Naked Gun film series features the similarly named "Detective Nordberg", played by O.J. Simpson).
Lupus's second claim to fame beyond his television work was as one of the first well-known male actors to pose with full frontal nudity for Playgirl magazine in April 1974. Lupus in some ways became the magazine's flagship pinup for the decade, not unlike Barbi Benton at Playboy, with photographs of him in a number of issues. Before this he was hired by the US Army to appear in a series of commercials playing the role of Superman with the permission of "Detective Comics" (aka National Periodical Publications, now known as DC Comics). He appeared for many months until the Playgirl pictorial was published. He has distanced himself from the magazine since the 1980s and has declined further pictorials in later years.
The nutrition company Peter Lupus ran that was based in Scottsdale, Arizona went out of business in late October 2007.
On July 19, 2007, at age 75, Lupus set a new world weightlifting endurance record by lifting 77,560 pounds over the course of 24 minutes, 50 seconds at the Spectrum Club in El Segundo, California. This topped the record Lupus set five years earlier in celebration of his 70th birthday.
- "Peter Lupus a Natural In Role of Strongman," Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Nov 9, 1973
- Mission: Impossible in the Encyclopedia of Television
- Whitely, Joan, "Strongman, actor Peter Lupus finds health his mission in life", Las Vegas Review Journal, April 15, 1997
- Patrick J. White, The Complete Mission: Impossible Dossier. New York: Avon Books, 1991.