Joe Bonomo (strongman)

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Joe Bonomo
Joe Bonomo.png
Joseph Bonomo

(1901-12-25)December 25, 1901
Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedMarch 28, 1978(1978-03-28) (aged 76)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationStunt performer, strongman

Joseph Bonomo (December 25, 1901 – March 28, 1978) was a famous American weightlifter, strongman, film stunt performer and actor.[1]


Bonomo was born to Esther and Albert Bonomo, Sephardic Jewish immigrants from Smyrna, Turkey.[2] His mother emigrated to the United States in 1890 or 1893 and his father in 1894; both lived for a time in France before sailing to their respective emigrations. As a child Bonomo built himself into a strongman winning the "Mr Modern Apollo" contest of 1921 where the prizes included a ten-week movie contract.[3]

He began as a stunt double soon doubling for Lon Chaney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame then playing a variety of roles. He lost the role of Tarzan in Tarzan the Mighty when he injured himself before shooting.[4]

Bonomo took interest in dieting and physical culture. His 1954 book Power Plus Cable Course was endorsed by Bernarr Macfadden. In 1951, he authored Calorie Counter and Control Guide and it sold 17 million copies.[5]

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1924 Wolves of the North Pierre DuPree Serial, lost film
1926 The Flaming Frontier Rain in the Face Silent feature
1929 The King of the Kongo Gorilla Serial "talkie"
1929 Courtin' Wildcats Gorilla

Selected publications[edit]

  • Bonomo Power Plus System of Physical Development (1944)
  • How To Relax (1943)
  • Building Body Power (1950)
  • Calorie Counter and Control Guide (1951)
  • Mighty Joe Bonomo's Famous 3-week Speed Course in Super-strength Dynamic Energy, Greater Health (1952)
  • The Famous Joe Bonomo 'Power-Plus' Cable-Course (1954)
  • The Scientific & Easy Way to Gain Weight (1958)
  • The Strongman: Pictorial Autobiography of Joe Bonomo (1968)


  1. ^ "Joe Bonomo, Star Of the Silent Films; Began as Stuntman". The New York Times.
  2. ^ The Taranto-Capouya-Crespin Family History: A Microcosm of Sephardic History,; accessed July 28, 2015.
  3. ^ Baxter, John. Stunt: The Story of the Great Movie Stunt Men, p. 82, Doubleday, 1974.
  4. ^ Schneider, Jerry L. Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Silver Screen Vol. I The Silent Years
  5. ^ Smith, Andrew F. (2017). Food in America: The Past, Present, and Future of Food, Farming, and the Family Meal, Volume 1. ABC-Clio. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-4408-4731-8
  • Bonomo, Joe Strongman: A True Life Pictorial Autobiography of the Hercules of the Screen Kessinger Publishing, 2007.

External links[edit]