Before Olivia Newton John got “Physical,” before “Buns of Steel” hit video store shelves, before Dr. Atkins’ diet urged millions to give up carbs, Gypsy Boots called on Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Boots practiced what he preached, too. The California fitness guru and author spent the past six decades advocating clean living, exercise and eating natural foods. Sporting long hair and a thick beard, he shared his views in two books (“Barefeet and Good Things to Eat,” “The Gypsy in Me”) and in numerous appearances on “The Steve Allen Show.”
Born Robert Bootzin, he dropped out of high school and joined a commune of bohemians in the Tahquitz Canyon near Palm Springs. Living off the land, sleeping in caves and bathing in waterfalls, Boots inspired Eden Ahbez to compose the song, “Nature Boy,” which became a hit when Nat King Cole performed it in 1948.
Boots later opened the Health Hut, a grocery store in Los Angeles that served organic foods to health-conscious celebrities. In the 1960s and 1970s, he became a door-to-door salesman, selling organic produce and teaching fitness classes. (His tagline was “Don’t panic, go organic; get in cahoots with Gypsy Boots.”) He also appeared in the films “Mondo Hollywood,” “Swingin’ Summer,” “Confessions of Tom Harris” and “The Game.”
Boots died on Aug. 8. Cause of death was not released, and his exact age was unknown.
Listen to a Tribute From NPR
August 12, 2004 by
Categories: Education, Writers/Editors
Before Olivia Newton John got “Physical,” before “Buns of Steel” hit video store shelves, before Dr. Atkins’ diet urged millions to give up carbs, Gypsy Boots called on Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
One new piece of info, which I couldn’t find on the WEB, but obtained from one of his long time personal friends, is that he had an ulcer which he didn’t do anything about. I believe there was a perferation which leaked material into prohibited parts of the abdominal region, literally poisoning him to death. It is unknown why he had that ulcer. I last saw boots, selling figs at the T.O. farmers’ market 4 months ago.
I use to watch him on the Steve Allen Show as a kid…never forgot him-he was always a crack up, sometimes he would do a cartwheel or something. It makes since that he knew Eden Ahbez…Ahbez got credit for being the first “Beatnik” before hippies. Now i wonder who came first The Ahbez or the boots?
My Dearest Friends; May I share these memories with Gypsy’s family. When I was 11 or so I was a huge fan of Gypsy Boots. I’d run home from Beverly Vista Elementry School in Beverly Hills, to watch the HIT TV The Steve Allen Show. Truly, way ahead of its time. Steve Allen was a truly a TV legend and his brand of comedy was right up Gypsy’s alley. The shows were a riot. My family owned the Beverly Hills Liquor Castle on Beverly Drive and Gypsy with his wife and kids in tow would frequent the world famous store and later sell Gypsy Boots Bars to my mom and dad to sell on their extremely large candy display. (1963) I always had a passion for comedy and singing and I use to speak with Gypsy about these desires. Oneday, I thought “why not” and asked the famed TV star Gypsy to be a guest at my 12th birthday party. I never expected him to show, yet I sent my invites with ” Gypsy Boots; Star of The Steve Allen Show MAY appear in person at my 12th birthday party. Be there or be square!”On that January Sunday, here came Gypsy, his entire family and a van loaded with party stuff, signs and fig bars for the kids. my birthday was something I was very proud and delighted with and shared many times over through the years. My prayers go out to this scraggly bearded man who showed a kindness I would soon, never forget. He use to speak with my father and mother for hours about health and good eating and it wasn’t long that everywhere he spoke, people listened to this odd little man. When I saw that Gypsy had died, I cried as it brought back such sweet memories of a better time, in this fast paced high tech world we live in, now. As Gloria Swanson the famous film star (a family friend) use to preach on refined sugar and salts in her book “Sugar Blues” in the 1970’s and I am very sure she was aware of Gypsy’s knowledge on the subject of exercise, eating right, and diet. If rumour has it, gypsy was 89 at his death. Though, I lost touch with him in the 90’s I must admit, I truly loved him as a caring and giving man, and he will be greatly, missed, not just by me but his throngs of fans around the world. To his family I send my love and prayers and the reassurance that somewhere in the heaven’s, Gypsy is swinging on a tree convincing angels to have a Gypsy Boots Bar w/ figs! Repectfully I remain; David Harrison Levi – Beverly Hills 90210 PS Remember: “Don’t panic, go organic; get in cahoots with Gypsy Boots.”) 2005
In 1962 when I was 7 years old Gypsy Boots backed up into the driveway of our home just off Melrose on San Vincente in West Hollywood and opened up the back of his station wagon and treated our family to some of his fresh organic produce and juices and I’m not certain but maybe I recall oatmeal cookies. This was the first time I had ever had carrot juice. There were no hippies at this time in Hollywood in the time of the beats so Gypsy was a new category unknown to me except for maybe the image of Jesus. My father told me Boots had told him cigarette smoking was not healthy and he shouldn’t be doing it around the children.
When I go to outdoor farmers markets today and I smell the smell of fresh produce I’m thinking of Gypsy Boots.
I hope it’s also a tribute to Gypsy Boots to say to this day I have never smoked a cigarette and I continue to drink fresh organic carrot juice.
I met Gypsy Boots when I was news director of K-DAY radio in Los Angeles in the early 1970s (using the name Steve Fredericks). He came to the station for an interview, after which we talked for quite awhile. We stayed in touch and I got to know him pretty well and enjoy his childlike qualities. I don’t believe I’ve ever known anyone–at any age–with so much energy; overwhelming at times. It was a pleasure to have known him.
As a college student from 60 to 68 at St.Cloud one of my fondest memories is sitting in the basement of Shoemaker Hall late at night watching the Steve Allen Show when Gypsy was on. I would almost always nearly fall off the chair with laughter at the interchange between Steve and Gypsy. But now, 45 years later, even a faint smile is hard to come by while watching any television shows. Boy-O-Boy, if people only knew what they’re missing today.(Steve & Gypsy were a major reason why it took me 8 years to get a 4 year degree.)
Gypsy was one of the best people on the planet.
I spent many god times with him. I model my dancing & energy after his legacy. He truly was an icon. Can we get together to reminisce about this wonderful man’s life and carry out his health mantra.
call me at 818-386-9921 to set up a picnic at Griffith park….
tommy [trojan] loffarelli
I recall seeing Gypsy Boots on the “You Bet Your Life” game show with Groucho Marx.
He was complaining about the fact that he had lived in a tree with his girl friend and despite the police’s best efforts to get him to leave, he would not. So, the county sent him a tax bill for property tax, and he got down.
I used to see him at Dr. Fleiss’s office; and all of the health conventions. He will be missed. Maureen 🙁
I participated in a couple of Fitness Fairs at the Pasadena Convention Center in the 80s, where he held forth, and had a chance to see him in action. However, the thing I will remember the best was the Banana Ranch he either owned or ran way out past Ventura, south of Santa Barbara. The last time I was out there, I think it was headed for CondoLand, as it was no more.
George Hollis, ex-Angelino
Gypsy used to got to San Francsco 49ers football games in the 50’s. He would put on his own halftime show and throw the football backwards, up to 60 feet!
Later in the 80’s I would go to the LA Coliseum to see the Raiders and there was Gypsy, near the 50 yard line behind the team, beating on a drum or leading a cheer. He was full of vitality and I am a lot better healthwise because of his energetic insistence of eating good, raw foods.
Not only was he a football fan but he was diplomat for healthy living.
Nuts and Fruits-with Gypsy Boots!
Watching Gypsy on the steve Allen show was always fun. Today we see and hear so much about health foods and really taking care of yourself. Hey!! this guy was WAY ahead of his time. Eat healthy and excercise!!!
His days of running around beating a drum at the USC games!! He would have been run out by the cops today. A really really true , free spirit. Where are guys like him today?
I knew Gypsy’s son & saw him at USC football games. He was the best & the only thing good about that school. Well ok, just kidding. He was a one-of-a-kind inspired role model that makes me want to believe in fate & specialness. If God loves American & fools, then he certainly had the touch of divinity.
When I was a kid, Gypsy used to hang out on the south west corner of Santa Monica and Western in Hollywood.
He would throw imaginary baseballs across the street & if he saw you catch one & throw it back, he’d catch it. He always had tigers milk bars which he always gave to anybody who wanted one.
Such a nice man he was.
i was watching a dvd of you bet your life (groucho marx) & he was on one segment & it was before the tonight show (steve allen) had started he was as crazy as i remember.then in another segment (another disk) a tall blond woman with the last name of bootsin discribed meeting her husband the way he had discribed meeting his wife the same way.i haden’t thought about him in many years.i’m sorry he is gone(but not forgotten).
I’ve only known about him through what I’ve read on the internet, and didn’t hear about him till he was gone. From what people say here, it sounds like a big loss for the world, though.
My most vivid memory of Gypsy Boots comes from the late 1960’s. I attended Lincoln Junior High School in Santa Monica. After school I often waited by the front steps of the school with some friends who waited for a special after school program bus pick up. Gypsy would come by regularly to chat with us and talk about his ideas on food and nutrition. He made a deep impression and I can remember my mother saying oh yes, your grandmother used to know him many years ago.
In the 1990’s I was making a stop at the banana farm at La Conchita (later wiped out by a landslide) They had a note up saying that they would be holding a birthday party for him the nxt day. I am sorry I missed it. He was a wonderful man.
I knew about Gypsy from when I was a little boy.(born in 1948). My mother would watch the Steve Allen show and when Gypsy came on, she would go nuts. She LOVED him. I was raised very healthy, and so it was natural to adopt Gypsy’s ways. I recently retired from the Los Angeles City Fire Dept. and have a very good memory of Gypsy from one of my shifts on duty. I was assigned to FS15 (near the LA Coliseum). The LA Raiders (at THAT time) were playing there one Sunday. We were out cruising on the firetruck and I happened to spot Gypsy’s white van with the “Don’t Panic, Go Organic” saying on it. I had the engineer pull over so I could go and put a note on the windshield inviting Gypsy to the fire station. Sometime around 6 pm the doorbell rang, and one of the guys got on the PA and said “Beav, you’ve got a visitor up front” I go to the front of the station and lo and behold there’s Gypsy. He was with one of his sons (cant remember which) and stayed for about 45 minutes. He had all the guys in the station cracking up and really made everyone’s day. It was really an honor for me that he went out of his way to pay me a visit. He gave me a copy of his last book, autographed and gave me his home phone number. I called him on a regular basis to chat. I will always cherish having met him and talking with him. I have lived my life as close to his philosophy as possible. A very inspirational person.
I was a juggler at the Renaissance Fair, and my juggling partner and I brought Gypsy on stage and passed knives around him. Gypsy was full of life, and did a great service to society by encouragung people to live a healthy lifestyle.
My fondest memories of this lovely man “Gyspy Boots”,was in my early teens (1968- 1970’s)In Topanga Canyon,at the old center, where we would play music,down by the creek, dancing with tamborenes and flutes, and timbles.Passing out little packages of Gyspy’s special trail mix, and friut juices.When he heard that my father was diagnoised with cancer, he would come to our house and make him fresh wheatgrass juice, leave him special Boot’s teas and always sat down to have a cup of tea with my Sweet little English mom.She would read his tea leaves in the bottom of his teacup just before he left.I made Gyspy a braided leather belt with beads and feathers woven into it and gave it to him at “Follow Your Heart”,as a token of our Thanks. He was loved and always welcomed.He will always be rememberd.. with Love and Respect
You people are crazy that guy was a fake and a con men and my wife met this idit at a health convention in L.A. Yea full of live but I can remeber that ass hole calling my home trying to hit on my pregnet wife who was a body builder. come on tell me how many of you ever had him ask you to go to the central valley and run nakid in his fruit trees. This clown would call my wife and act like it was inmportant and talk shit. Trying to get into her mind. My wife siad this guys a nut case. My wife had me tell him to stop calling or I would get a restraing order. I finly had to tell him hey dude move on!!!! He would why do I fell your anger I told him hey pop you call 4 times a day. the world is not lost with out that freak! I am on here becouse me and my wife are going to a convention in L.A. and she said what happen to that freak I hope hes not there. I said no he should be dead by now! Thank god!
I enjoyed Gypsy’s occasional appearances at Mommy Fortuna’s coffee house in LA. He was a close friend of a duo – Gypsy Boots & The Hairy Hoots, made up of Grover Hays and Tom Dambak. The 3 of them also appeared a number of times on the Steve Allen show.
Please reply if you know the whereabouts of Grover and Tom.
Back in the early seventys,when I was A kid my family lived around the corner from the Bootzin s my brother was in little leage with his son fredy,and gypsy was always at the games makeing himself known.It was quit a site he really got in to it.
After juicing and drinking an array of fresh organic fruits and veggies; and feeling that vital surge of energy; i began wondering if gypsy is still around. SAD to find out Hes gone; but he won;t be forgotten; unlike joe(post june27)who did admit gypsy was full of life, joe is full of shit and will be forgotten. By saying that someone as genuine as gypsy is fake shows his complete ignorance;and insecurity. Joe wher u going with that gun in your hand ? I;m gg to shot gypsy I caught him talking to my wife on the phone. OK. Gypsy ; the genuine bodhisatva of health and celebration; will be missed.
When I was a small boy, in the early and middle 60’s my dad played rugby for the Long Beach Rugby club. Gypsy was always at the games, rooting and hawking his organic wares. One day, my dad says, “Hey, There’s Gypsy Boots!” I said, “You Know Him? My dad replied, “Everyone knows Gypsy Boots!” And wasn’t he right! What an outgoing and friendly man he was. Years later, I was in college playing Rugby for Cal St. Fullerton. We were going to Play USC and my teammate who was driving got lost. As we passed the Shrine Auditorium, out came Gypsy, I said, “Pull over, Gypsy will know how to get there” My buddy said, “You know him?!!!!” I replied, “Everyone knows Gypsy Boots! When we rolled down the window to ask for directions, “Gypsy, how do we get to USC’S field he replied in typical Gypsy fashion ” Ahh baby you’re all Fu#@Ked up! I’ll set you straight.” He got us there! He later showed up to watch the game,and we talked for around 20 min. I say him at various events through the years I always reminded him who I was. He never remembered! But he was always friendly and enthusiastic! A great guy!
The Globe of Life!
In a health food store in Glendale, circa 1970’s, a vital young dancer girl is examining a strange greenish yellow fruit she had never seen in her life. From out of the ethers appears a sparkly hairy man, “That’s a sapote. Try it.” He bites into one, and hands me another one. “Go ahead” I take a bite of the fruit — sweet, nova land, delicious. It was sheer mana. First meeting. Ten years later I met this inspiring gentleman again at a Body, Mind, Spirit festival — or was it somewhere in Hollywood? He was zany, song-full, spirited. I used to exchange bodywork for fruit, strawberries, oranges, more fruit than I could possibly eat. I also received songs, delightful, silly exuberant songs. I swear to this day, the fruit I traded with Gypsy Boots would not spoil as quickly as fruit from anywhere else. It was as if his beloved fruit had special non-perishable qualities. They tasted like elixer. Life and time happen, I moved away to Northern Cal., and was gone for many years. Driving down through Santa Barbara, I spotted a now visibly older Gypsy and his white travelin’ truck, heading somewhere. I realized how much his spirit and dedication to health had touched me, and no doubt thousands of others! Never caught up with him that day, but wish to honor good memories of a memorable health prioneer.
I remember him from USC football games when I was an undergraduate in the early 80’s, ringing his cowbell!
I use to work with Gypsy in the early ’70’s and was one of his “nature” girls. I just loved traveling with him, and having fun in Sonoma, thru the wine country area, and meeting new people and learning about good “real food”. His wife was a doll and trusted us with him that no harm would come to us. His kids were soooooooooo cute too.
Life has a way of changing you at different times in your life, and you move on. I was sorry to move out of state and have not seen Gypsy and his family since. Just today I finally remembered to look him up on the internet and was sad to hear he passed away. I hope all is well with his family.
My Dearest Friends; May I share these memories with Gypsy’s family. When I was 11 or so I was a huge fan of Gypsy Boots. I’d run home from Beverly Vista Elementry School in Beverly Hills, to watch the HIT TV The Steve Allen Show. Truly, way ahead of its time. Steve Allen was a truly a TV legend and his brand of comedy was right up Gypsy’s alley. The shows were a riot. My family owned the Beverly Hills Liquor Castle on Beverly Drive and Gypsy with his wife and kids in tow would frequent the world famous store and later sell Gypsy Boots Bars to my mom and dad to sell on their extremely large candy display. (1963) I always had a passion for comedy and singing and I use to speak with Gypsy about these desires. Oneday, I thought “why not” and asked the famed TV star Gypsy to be a guest at my 12th birthday party. I never expected him to show, yet I sent my invites with ” Gypsy Boots; Star of The Steve Allen Show MAY appear in person at my 12th birthday party. Be there or be square!”On that January Sunday, here came Gypsy, his entire family and a van loaded with party stuff, signs and fig bars for the kids. my birthday was something I was very proud and delighted with and shared many times over through the years. My prayers go out to this scraggly bearded man who showed a kindness I would soon, never forget. He use to speak with my father and mother for hours about health and good eating and it wasn’t long that everywhere he spoke, people listened to this odd little man. When I saw that Gypsy had died, I cried as it brought back such sweet memories of a better time, in this fast paced high tech world we live in, now. As Gloria Swanson the famous film star (a family friend) use to preach on refined sugar and salts in her book “Sugar Blues” in the 1970’s and I am very sure she was aware of Gypsy’s knowledge on the subject of exercise, eating right, and diet. If rumour has it, gypsy was 89 at his death. Though, I lost touch with him in the 90’s I must admit, I truly loved him as a caring and giving man, and he will be greatly, missed, not just by me but his throngs of fans around the world. To his family I send my love and prayers and the reassurance that somewhere in the heaven’s, Gypsy is swinging on a tree convincing angels to have a Gypsy Boots Bar w/ figs! Repectfully I remain; David Harrison Levi – Beverly Hills 90210 PS Remember: “Don’t panic, go organic; get in cahoots with Gypsy Boots.”) 2005 David Harrison Levi – STARMAKER®™ – David Levi Entertainment Worldwide LLC Beverly Hills, CA 90210 USA Personal Management – Music Producer
I played football once with Gypsy, circa 1970. I think he was in his 50s. He threw me a 50-55 yard spiral—Behind his back! I don’t remember if I caught it.
I was so sorry to hear he passed away. A short time ago I saw an old van on the freeway that said Gypsy Boots. It brought back so many memories. Unfortunately it was going in the opposite direction or I would have followed to see who was driving. I wish he was still around.
I met Gypsy when I was in high school 1965. He came to San Francisco to visit his sister in the outer sunset area by Ocean beach. I was best friends with his sister’s two boys. At that time, he was selling tea shirts with pictures of himself surfing and another riding a motor cycle. HE gave me one of each. I wish I had kept them but over the years they got old and I out grew them. I also remember his station wagon. Gypsy had 5 gallon glass water bottles filled with carrot juice and other juices when he came to visit his sister. She lived 3 blocks from me and during that summer, I spent many fun hours listening to his health filled life time stories.
Well I am still friends with his relatives. His sister is still alive as are 2 of her 3 children.
His sister was also on the G Marks TV show “You bet your life.” I have to say, her son told me there were family issues that caused a split (no communication) between Gypsy and his sister later on in the 70’s, I never asked my friend (gypsy’s nephew) what it was about. It was personal and none of by business. Some things should not be known to outsiders. Oh yes, I have his San Francisco LP record and books he wrote and have all his original movies on VHS. Gypsy was a very energy loving and funny person to be around.