July 14, 2004 by

Joe Gold

26 comments

Categories: Business

Bodybuilding pioneer Joe Gold died on July 11 of congestive heart failure. He was 82.
Born in East Los Angeles, Gold developed an interest in bodybuilding as a teenager. He began visiting Muscle Beach, a Santa Monica site frequented by stuntmen and bodybuilders, on a regular basis and defined his own body with regular workouts. After high school, Gold moved to New Orleans and worked as a merchant marine.
He enlisted in the Navy, and served on a ship stationed near the Philippines during World War II. Gold spent six months in a veterans’ hospital after a torpedo explosion during the 1944 Battle of Leyte left him severely injured. He recovered from his wounds but continued to suffer debilitating pain for the rest of his life. His final years were spent confined to a wheelchair.
Upon his return to the states, Gold again built up his body. His bulging muscles and defined physique attracted the attention of actress Mae West, who hired him to work on her all-male chorus line, the Mae West Revue. He also appeared in the 1956 films “The Ten Commandments” and “Around the World in 80 Days.”
Gold founded the gym that bears his name in 1965; he designed and welded most of the weightlifting equipment as well. Located in Venice, Calif., Gold’s Gym catered to hundreds of local bodybuilders, including a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, who later became a movie star and the state’s governor. Gold sold the gym and the rights to the Gold name in 1971. The new owners franchised Gold’s Gym into a health club empire with more than 550 facilities in 25 countries.
Gold got back into the gym business in 1977 when he founded World Gym International in Santa Monica. The company has since expanded to include 290 health and fitness centers worldwide. The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association named Gold its man of the year in 1999. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Fitness Trade Association in 2001.
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26 Responses to Joe Gold

  1. Rita de Groot

    We, at World Gym Aurora,Colorado,are so sad to hear of the death of Joe Gold.I had the great pleasure of spending some time with Joe at the World Gym convention in 1995. He will be missed by all.

  2. Aimee Kahn

    I was honored to have met Joe and work with him on a project. A kind man, with a wonderful spirit about him. He will be missed..

  3. jim

    joe gold i knew was a greedy self centered jew who stole money from his best friends estate after he died and i swear on my life im telling you the truth so stop bullshitting everyone in to thinking how great this man was
    jim
    taboot@hotmail.com

  4. Dan

    I opened the 1st Gold’s in Memphis in 1982 and while in LA got to meet Joe at his World’s gym.
    I have a lot of respect for him and what he gave to the “World!” The real gym will always be his.

  5. Antonio Barron

    I just want to say that Joe will be missed. I had the privelage of meeting him back in 1990 at his gym in Venice. He was a real gentleman.

  6. TMac

    I had the opportunity to get to know Joe Gold several years ago and was privileged to have an honorary membership to his World Gym in Venice. My only regret is that our friendship didn’t last longer. I will miss you Joe.

  7. DECLAN DUFFY

    I MET JOE GOLD IN 1995, WHEN I ARRIVED IN LOS ANGELES FROM IRELAND.I WORKED OUT IN THE GYM ALMOST EVERYDAY.AND WOULD TALK TO JOE WHENEVER I COULD.WE BECAME FRIENDS AND IN 2000 ,I BUILT HIS NEW GYM IN MARINA DEL RAY.I ALSO BUILT HIS CORPORATE OFFICE AND PRIVATE RESIDENCE THAT YEAR TOO.DURING THIS TIME I GOT TO KNOW HIM QUITE WELL AS HE WAS THE MASTERMIND WHO CREATED IT .HE KNEW WHAT HE WANTED AND DIDNT MIND VOICING HIS OPINIONS ,HE WAS AN INSPIRATION TO MANY PEOPLE.I HAD THE BEST TIME WORKING WITH HIM.EVEN THROUGH WE DIDNT ALWAYS SEE EYE TO EYE.AT THE END OF THE DAY WE STILL GOT THE WORK DONE.JOE WAS THE KINDESS MAN I HAVE EVER MET .HE LOVED HIS DOGS AND CATS LIKE NO ONE ELSE I KNOW.HE HAD MANY FRIENDS WHO I KNOW QUITE WELL.I ALSO KNOW WHO THE IDIOT IS TALKING ABOUT .FOR THE RECORD ” JOE GOLD TOOK CARE OF HIS FRIENDS LIKE FAMILY.HE NEVER CHASED OR ASKED FOR MONEY FROM ANYONE.THATS NOT THE JOE GOLD I KNEW,HE WAS INDEPENDANT IN EVERYTHING HE DID.” JOE GOLD WAS LIKE A FATHER FIGURE TO ME .HE WAS A GENTLEMAN …THANKS JOE !!!

  8. Phil Apino

    Joe was a complete asshole most of the time.
    He was crass, mean-spirited and just plain iserable.
    I have never met such a bitter man in all my life.
    He surrounded himself with a cadre or homosexual wealth who mooched off of him hoping to get something left in the will
    I am sorry he passed away but he WAS NOT a nice man. He was miserly and cruel and very sexist. What a suprise he died single.
    Phil Apino
    roubal@usc.edu

  9. Lauren

    I was very sad to hear Joe Gold passed. I had the pleasure of meeting him a few times in his gym. He was VERY kind, and might I add, VERY charming. He will be greatly missed.

  10. Dana

    From all of us at World Gym in Hampton Bays, NY.
    Joe Gold was our founder and the man who set the standard of what a real workout gym should be, again and again..we are all saddened by his death and are proud to be a part of the organization Joe founded. So here’s to Joe Gold… in Hampton Bays we are proud to be the home of the 2004 “Joe Gold Award” winner, Owner/ Manager Nancy Kouris.

  11. Big Mikey

    As a young bodybuilder in the early 80s and trying to make it on my own in LA, I joined World Gym. At Worlds the likes of Arnold, Lou, Franco Frank Z, Eddie G and Zabo were regulars faces especially to an impressionable kid, but it was Joe with his old salty sailor “cranky” dimeanor kept everyone on there toes! He treated me just like I was “Somebody” and always had the time to talk. Joe you are a true Champion and a true friend- Get J.C. into shape up there!
    Till we meet again my friend…

  12. DAVID (sarge)ROWLANDS

    I MET JOE IN 1987 AT WORLD GYM VENICE DURING A TRIP TO CALIFORNIA HE LET ME TRAIN AT THE GYM AS HIS GUEST.I RETURNED TO CALIFORNIA IN 1988 WHERE I BUMPED INTO JOE WHILE STROLLING ALONG THE BAECHFRONT.WE SAT AND HAD A CHAT FOR HOURS HE SEEMED A GENUINE KIND MAN WHO HAD TIME FOR EVERYBODY WHO HAD AN INTEREST IN THE SPORT OF BODYBUILDING.I WAS HONOURED TO HAVE MET HIM

  13. Cyndi D.

    Joe Gold was one of the finest men I have ever met. His friend, Artie, brought me to World in Venice when Joe didn’t allow women. Joe welcomed me with open arms (literally!) and a warm smile. I trained in his gym til I moved from the area 6 years later. (We used to call it the Iron Church because a group of us always trained early Sunday mornings.)I’ve been to Joe’s old place in Venice and saw his awesome welding shop, gun collection, and mementos. I wish I had a “JG” dumb bell now. He protected his friends like a grizzly bear. I was extremely saddened to hear of his passing, but relieved he is out of pain.
    Cyndi D.

  14. Gregory Economidis

    I first met Joe at his World Gym in Nov ’81, I was 22 and it was first trip to the States. I landed in Los Angeles and joined my two friends for a work out there in Venice, I walked up the stairs of the Gym I had seen only in pictures and my heart raced as I anticipated what I would see at a Mecca of the Weight trainers. Pete was at his peak soon after his Mr. Australia title & Mick was Pumping up 20″ arms & all those other guys were training at their Peak. & I was just beginning my journey that has continued in Strength till this day Thanks to Men like Joe.
    You will always be the trailblazer of Gyms everywhere…

  15. Jim

    I FIRST MET JOE GOLD BACK IN 1971 AT HIS GYM WHILE IN LOS ANGELES. I WAS THERE FOR THE SUMMER OUT OF COLLEGE. HE LET ME TRAIN FOR PRACTICALLY NOTHING. BACK THEN A ONE YEAR MEMBERSHIP WAS $99. wHAT A STEAL. LATER WHEN I OWNED THE RHEO BLAIR PROTEIN FORMULA, I SOLD THE PROTEIN TO MANY OF HIS OLD TIME TRAINERS. HE HAD NO MUSIC IN HIS GYM, WHICH I REALLY LIKED. I AM OLD SCHOOL. I WOULD SAY HIS GYM BACK IN 1971 HAD THE BEST ATMOSPHERE AND EQUIPMENT. IT WAS NEVER CROWDED. LATER IN 1989 AS A GUEST OF LARRY SCOTT, I ATTENDED HIS BIRTHDAY PARTY AND WE TALKED. HE WAS A UNIQUE PERSON AND TRAINER. I WISH THE GYMS TODAY HAD OWNERS LIKE HIM. AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED, JOE GOLD IS A ICON AND TAKES HIS PLACE WITH GYM OWNERS LIKE SIG KLEIN, VIC TANNY AND MANY OTHERS
    JIM SHIBLOM

  16. Chuck

    I actually just learned of Mr.Gold’s death.
    I offer my condolences to all that loved and respected him. I had the pleasure of meeting Joe
    in 1973 when I moved to Los Angeles from New
    York for the specific purpose of training in the infamous Gold’s Gym.
    Chuck
    Boca Raton, Florida

  17. Matt

    As a young Marine, my friend and I visited World Gym in Santa Monica in 1983. We met and talked with Joe Gold. He always seemed to have a bit of time to chat. Knowing that my friend and I were Marines, he let us work out for free. Great guy that will be missed.

  18. kim allyn

    I met Joe Gold in 1973 along with Zabo, Draper, Arnold, Big Steve,Big Tony, Eddie G, and so many other champions and free spirits. Today, all of the friends I made at Golds and later World Gym, are friends today. Joe always had time for me and my family and supported my bodybuilding efforts. It was his support and my main man ZABO that got me the Mr California, Masters Mr America, and countless Venice Beach wins as well as fifteen gold medals in the Police Olympics. In 2004, after Joe had passed, I entered the Venice Beach and posed to a classic rendition of the famouse poses of Draper, Arnold, Zane, and Joe Gold.When I got to teh pose for Joe I did an “Archer” style pose and then pointed to teh heavens as the name Joe Gold was mentioned and the crowd was on their feet!!! Does that sound like the respect shown to a “Greedy Jew”? I really knew Joe and his best friend Zabo very well and I am very close to Zabo today. Joe was not a whimp and would “tell it like it is” and for for the fragil male bodybuilder or fan, many took ofense to his raw honestly which results is those timid souls making such mean-spirited coomments. Joe was the real thing. There was no BS with him and if he were alive today to respond to the few who posted hate comments it would sound somthing like this…”I don’t give a shit what he said, and where the hell is Charlie, he was suposed to help me build a new gate.” That was Joe..he would just blow off the negative and move on…but was Joe difficult…sure…did we all love and respect him….in a big way! I miss him everytinme I drive past World now..it’s empty in spirit..thank God Zabo, Steve, and Eddie are still there and Jim Morris too…long live Joe!

  19. yukio

    Respect and honor to Joe Gold. I am sad to hear of his passing only now. My dream came true when I opened a World Gym Franchise in ’99 and although we closed in ’02, it was a great journey. If it was not possible to be a World Gym I didn’t want a gym at all. Along with countless others, I love what Joe Gold stood for and the type of GYM, or business in general, in which he supported. I am completely out of the fitness industry now and will forever miss what a real gym is like. Ah yes, a REAL GYM, that is what this man stood for!
    Much Aloha.

  20. Ray

    I knew Joe from ’79 to ’81. If you were around him daily as I was, training at World Gym, you knew that he was crusty as hell, had a sarcastic mouth, etc. But he was honest, and if he liked you, you had to have earned his respect somehow. He yelled something across the gym at me once, his usual was “Hey, Mr.P.H.D., don’t bust my equipment.” That was to anybody that clanked a weight or dropped it hard. I fired a salvo right back at him even worse than his was, and thereafter he always liked and respected me.

  21. Philip Bolay

    We need more Joe Gold today, where are the passionate people? He did a phantastic accomplishment. I am sad today to discover that not only he will never be at the gym but now the gym in Marina Del Rey is closed! I don’t understand why no bodybuilders organized themselves to buy back the gym and make it live again in honor of this wonderful sport and in memory of Joe a passionate person.
    God bless you Joe, I know that you are watching over us
    Cheers
    Philip
    bphilip@socal.rr.com

  22. Francisco pimentel

    I came to Santa Monica Muscle Beach in the early 60s there I met the pionners of muscle beach one of them was Joe Gold, growing up around the beach he allways was friendly, itis going to be four years since his passing but his accomplisments will live for ever.
    Cisco
    Musclebeachbrat 1960s

  23. David Camac

    I was lucky enough to have met Joe Gold when i visited California and trained at World Gym in 1994. He was actually behind the reception when i arrived and asked me to make sure i put my wieghts back after use. I only spoke to him for probably 5 minutes, he had this sparkle in his eyes and i liked him straight away, thier was something special about him, he was a cool dude.

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