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) is an American bodybuilder and actor. 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. Lupus is said by some to be of Greek descent, though by other sources, Italian. His surname from the Latin 'lupo', meaning wolf. Census records give his father as having been born in Syria, however, and his mother as American.
Lupus was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. Standing 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm) with a developed physique, he began his career by earning 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 1960s, occasionally credited as Rock Stevens for such films as Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon (1964), Challenge of the Gladiator (1965) and Muscle Beach Party (1964) where he starred as "Mr. Galaxy" Flex Martian. He is best remembered for the role of Willy Armitage in 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. During the early 1970s, Lupus was the "face" (body?) of European Health Spa traveling around the country to make appearances and sign autographs at several of the gyms' grand openings.
The character of Willy Armitage was 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!.
Lupus was as one of the first well-known male actors to pose with full frontal nudity for Playgirl magazine, in April 1974. Photographs of Lupus would appear in a number of issues. Before this he was hired by the US Air Force to appear in a series of commercials playing the role of Superman (with the permission of what is now DC Comics). He appeared for many months until the Playgirl pictorial was published.
On July 19, 2007, at age 75, Lupus set a 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 of 76,280 pounds in 27 minutes.
- ""Peter Lupus a Natural In Role of Strongman," Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Nov 9, 1973". Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- Raddatz, Leslie (1968). "Workout With Peter Lupus". TV Guide.
- "Mission: Impossible in the Encyclopedia of Television". Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- Whitely, Joan, "Strongman, actor Peter Lupus finds health his mission in life", Las Vegas Review Journal, April 15, 1997
- Glen Weldon (2013). Superman: The Unauthorized Biography. John Wiley & Sons. p. 141. ISBN 978-1-118-48382-4.
- Lipton, Glen (July 18, 2007). "Lupus Record". Associated Press – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
- Perine, Shawn (June 1, 2007). "Mission: possible". Flex – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
- "Hollywood actors join Arpaio's immigration posse". KTVK azfamily.com. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- Patrick J. White, The Complete Mission: Impossible Dossier. New York: Avon Books, 1991.