Bill Pearl

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Bill Pearl
Bill Pearl 1956.jpg
Pearl after winning the 1956 Mr. U.S.A.
Personal info
Born (1930-10-31) October 31, 1930 (age 89)
Prineville, Oregon, U.S.
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) –
5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight201 lb (91 kg) –
242 lb (110 kg)
Professional career
Pro-debutMr. Universe, Amateur, 1953
Best winMr. Universe, Professional, 1956, 1961, 1967, 1971
ActiveRetired 1971

William Arnold "Bill" Pearl (born October 31, 1930[1]) is an American retired professional bodybuilder and athlete. During the 1950s and 60s, he won many titles and awards, including winning the Mr. Universe contest five times, and was named "World's Best-Built Man of the Century." He later became an expert trainer and author on bodybuilding.


Pearl was born in Prineville, Oregon. His first major victory was in the 1953 Amateur Mr Universe contest, in which he beat out a then 23-year-old Sean Connery. He actively competed until his retirement in 1971, when he won the Mr. Universe title one last time, beating Frank Zane, Reg Park and Sergio Oliva. In all, he won the professional Mr Universe 4 times in an 18-year span, which was unprecedented at the time.

He was the first professional bodybuilder to author bodybuilding training courses and booklets. He is also the first to pose to music, and was especially noted in performing exhibitions doing an entire posing routine of Eugen Sandow (who is known as the man who invented bodybuilding). Ever the showman, Pearl would wear a fake mustache, leotards, a fig leaf, and a late-19th century backdrop, all for providing the exact effect of the Sandow era.

Pearl was equally as famous for performing his strongman routine, which included tearing of license plates, bending penny spike nails, and blowing up a hot water bottle as well as his ability on the bench press exercise using up to 500 lbs. [citation needed]

He is the author of the popular exercise book, Getting Stronger: Weight Training for Men and Women, which has sold over 350,000 copies in the United States and has been translated into four other languages, including Chinese. His book, Keys To The INNER Universe, is to this day considered a "must read" for bodybuilders. It contains 1,500 weight-training exercises, weighs five pounds, and has sold over 60,000 copies.[2]

Pearl had his own monthly question-and-answer column called "Pearl of the Universe" in the bodybuilding magazine MuscleMag International as well as one in Muscle Builder (later Muscle & Fitness) magazine, titled "Wisdom of Pearl" in the 1970s and 1980s.

In 2003 with co-author Kim Shott, Pearl published his autobiography, Beyond the Universe: The Bill Pearl Story.

Pearl became a vegetarian at age 39 and is the best-known vegetarian bodybuilder. Bill's diet is lacto-ovo vegetarian, which means he eats eggs and dairy products.[3]

During the 1980s, Pearl served as a mentor, trainer, and training partner to many of the top professionals that were still competing. One such individual was Mr. Olympia, Chris Dickerson.

In 2004, Pearl was awarded the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic Lifetime Achievement Award for significantly impacting the world of bodybuilding. In November 2004, Bill Pearl acted as Master of Ceremonies for Sri Chinmoy's Weightlifting celebration, in New York.[4]

In 2011 Pearl appeared in the documentary Challenging Impossibility describing when he hosted the 2004 strength exhibition by spiritual teacher and peace advocate Sri Chinmoy. The film was an Official Selection of the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.[5]

Pearl currently lives in Phoenix, Oregon.[6]


Harold Frank Pearl
Father (b. 1903)
Mildred Elizabeth Pasley
Mother (b. 1905)
Fontelle Pearl
Eldest sibling
Harold Pearl
Middle sibling
Bill Pearl
Son (b. October 31, 1930)
Youngest sibling


Bodybuilding titles and awards[edit]

  • 1952 Mr. San Diego, 3rd place (San Diego, California)
  • 1952 Mr. Oceanside (Oceanside, California)
  • 1953 Mr. Southern California (Los Angeles, California)
  • 1953 Mr. California (Los Angeles, California)
  • 1953 A.A.U., Mr. America (Indianapolis, Indiana)
  • 1953 N.A.B.B.A., Mr. Universe Amateur (London, England)
  • 1956 Mr. U.S.A., Professional (Los Angeles, California)
  • 1956 N.A.B.B.A., Mr. Universe, Professional, Tall Man's Class (London, England)
  • 1961 N.A.B.B.A., Mr. Universe, Professional (London, England)
  • 1967 N.A.B.B.A., Mr. Universe, Professional (London, England)
  • 1971 N.A.B.B.A., Mr. Universe, Professional (London, England)
  • 1974 W.B.B.A., World's Best-Built Man of the Century (New York, New York)
  • 1978 Entered into W.B.B.A., Hall of Fame (New York, New York)
  • 1978 Elected the I.F.B.B. National Chairman of the Professional Physique Judges Committee (Acapulco, Mexico)
  • 1988 Entered into Pioneers of Fitness Hall of Fame
  • 1992 Entered into Gold's Gym Hall of Fame
  • 1994 Guest of Honor of the Association of Oldetime Barbell & Strongmen 12th Annual Reunion
  • 1994 Entered into The Joe Weider Hall of Fame
  • 1995 A.A.U. Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 1995 Oscar Heidenstam Foundation Hall of Fame
  • 1996 American Powerlifters Federation Hall of Fame
  • 1997 International Chiropractors Association Sports & Fitness Man of the Year
  • 1999 I.F.B.B. Hall of Fame Inductee[7]
  • 2000 Spirit of Muscle Beach Award
  • 2001 World Gym Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2001 Society of Weight-Training Injury Specialists Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2002 Canadian Fitness Award for 60+ Years of Inspiration to the Industry
  • 2002 National Fitness Trade Journal Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2003 Iron Man magazine Peary & Mabel Radar Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2004 Arnold Schwarzenegger Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2006 PDI Night of Champions Lifetime Achievement Award[8]<ref>Pearl, Bill and Shott, Kim (2003). Beyond the Universe-The Bill Pearl Story. Bill Pearl Enterprises. p. 8. ISBN 978-0884970484


  • Beyond the Universe – The Bill Pearl Story
  • Getting Back in Shape: 32 Workout Programs for Lifelong Fitness
  • Getting in Shape: 32 Workout Programs for Lifelong Fitness
  • Getting Stronger: Weight Training for Men and Women(Revised Edition)
  • Getting Stronger: Weight Training for Men and Women
  • Keys to the INNER Universe


  • "Pearls of Wisdom – Bill Pearl a Bodybuilding Legend" (DVD, 150 minutes)
  • "Bill Pearl & Dave Draper Seminar" (DVD, 75 minutes)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Pearl, Bill and Shott, Kim (2003). Beyond the Universe-The Bill Pearl Story. Bill Pearl Enterprises. p. 15. ISBN 978-0884970484
  2. ^ "Weight Training". Shelter Online. Archived from the original on October 16, 2008. Retrieved October 15, 2008.
  3. ^ Weider, Joe and Reynolds, Bill. (1984). Competitive Bodybuilding. Contemporary Books. p. 161. ISBN 978-0809254668
  4. ^ Sri Chinmoy’s Weightlifting Celebration, 2004.
  5. ^ Kilgannon, Corey (April 25, 2011). "A Monument to Strength as a Path to Enlightenment". The New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2011.
  6. ^ "Contact Information". Archived from the original on March 5, 2009. Retrieved May 2, 2009.
  7. ^ Bill Pearl. I.F.B.B. Hall of Fame
  8. ^ "Pearls of Wisdom – Bill Pearl a Bodybuilding Legend." DVD. GMV Productions, 2007

External links[edit]