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Larry King Live

Jack La Lanne Discusses a Life of Health and Fitness

Aired July 17, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, from skinny sickly kid to the godfather of American fitness: Jack La Lanne, amazing at 85. He's here for the hour. He's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We have a genuine first with us tonight: the first to have a nationally syndicated television show on exercise and nutrition. He will be 86 in September. First saw him on TV when I went over to Hervey's (ph) house -- we couldn't afford a TV -- in 1951. Jack La Lanne has been doing his thing. What a life?

Now, you were a sickly kid.


KING: What changed you?

LA LANNE: When I was 15 years old, I dropped out of school for six months because I was getting failing grades, I was a troublemaker, I was 30 pounds underweight. And it was during this time I attended a health lecture. That man was Paul Bride (ph). He was a very famous nutritionist. And I went to that lecture that night, and he said: "If you obey nature's laws, you can be born again."

Here I'm this little sickly kid, and he said I could be born again. After that lecture, I was so enthusiastic, and how am I going to kick those terrible eating habits that I had: all those cakes, and all the sugar stuff.

KING: But you said you were skinny.

LA LANNE: Oh, I was. I was 30 pounds underweight.

KING: But even though you were eating all that wrong food.

LA LANNE: Yes, that sugar, that was killing me. And I went...

KING: But yet you were underweight.

LA LANNE: Right. I went home that night, and I said, dear God, please give me the willpower to refrain from eating these foods that have been destroying me.

KING: So what did you do? LA LANNE: I went strict vegetarian. I cut out all white flower, white sugar products, and joined the Berkeley, California YMCA. And the rest is history, just like that.

KING: Still a vegetarian?

LA LANNE: Oh pretty -- I just eat fish. I eat fish, yes, seven days a week.

KING: But no meats, no chicken, no meat.

LA LANNE: No, no. Well, I had for a while, when I was under a physique contest, I would have fish, chicken and turkey, and I ate meat for a while. But for seven straight years I was strict vegetarian. But now I'm strictly under just fish -- that's my main protein.

KING: How did you make this a life's work? All right, you could have gotten (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But what did you want to be?

LA LANNE: Larry, if something saved your life, would you be enthusiastic about it? Here I was, this weak...

KING: Yes, but a doctor saved my life with a heart surgery. I didn't go to medical school.

LA LANNE: Well, I mean, I'm 15 years old.


LA LANNE: And so I wanted to help other people. I wanted to show them how to eat...

KING: At that age you thought of it?

LA LANNE: Absolutely. You know, like I said, I went back into school. I turned out to be a champion athlete. I won best (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and best back and best chest in Mr. America. It just changed my life. I was a whole different human being.

KING: Did you go to college?

LA LANNE: I went to a chiropractic college for a while, and I started in college. But then I started out and I had my first gym in 1931. I was still in high school. And then my...

KING: You opened your own gym.

LA LANNE: Oh, yes.

KING: Were there any gyms then?

LA LANNE: Oh, no. That was -- that just had a few weightlifting things and wrestling and boxing. That was about it. But I was the first one to have progressive weight training, and I invented a lot of the equipment you have in the gyms today: the first weight selector, and a lot of the -- the leg extension machines, some of the pulley things. And I invented those things way back there in the '30s, because there was nothing around.

KING: So you became kind of, for want of a better term, obsessed. Look at that. Look at what we're looking at. Look at Jack La Lanne.

LA LANNE: Look at that man. Strong as a bull, half as smart.

KING: And were you opening all these places before television began?

LA LANNE: Oh, yes, some of them. But after television, that really got everything going.

KING: And how did you get into television?

LA LANNE: I had a friend of mine that was working at American Broadcasting Company in San Francisco, Vincent Francis. And he said, Jack, there's a guy over here that has a (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It's a health wafer. And he attributes all these wonderful things, health benefits, from this wafer, and he wants to advertise it on television. So we want to have somebody to advertise it.

So they started taking auditions all over the United States for somebody that would have a health show. So we had all these auditions, and they sent me down to Hollywood, and they met. We had a big stretched-out limousine. And the guy that I -- that met me, I thought he was just the fellow that was going to take us to the man who really meant something, you know.

Anyway, so he got me in his office. He said, Jack, if you had a television show, now what would you do? And he's sitting there in a chair. And I said, well, look, you're sitting in a chair, I said pull your knee into your chest, now both knees. Now pretend you're riding a bicycle. Hard, come on, harder! Now do -- put your hands up in the air.

And I had him doing all these exercises sitting in the chair, and every day I'd give a nutrition tip, and I'd give a little tip of the day, proving that anything is possible and it's never too old. And god, I had the guy so enthused, he said -- and he said, "Mary" -- his secretary -- "call J.B. from New York."

And he gets on the phone. "Hello, J.B., stop all auditions. I found my man." That was it.

KING: Was the wafer any good?

LA LANNE: The wafer, the man didn't have any money. He had the money to start the television, but he had no distribution.

KING: Did you sell the wafer then?

LA LANNE: No. We went down the tubes. So here I'm left with a television show. KING: So you stayed with it, though?

LA LANNE: Oh, did I stay with it? For 34 years.

KING: When did it go national?

LA LANNE: In -- about 1954 or '53, I guess, around in there.

KING: You went down to L.A., right?

LA LANNE: Yes. Well, I had -- I left San Francisco, because they had no facilities there, so I had to go to Hollywood. And...

KING: And you'd be on every day, what hour did they put you on?

LA LANNE: I was in the mornings, morning-time.

KING: Like an hour, right?

LA LANNE: We (UNINTELLIGIBLE) service note. Over 200 of the top cities in the United States.

KING: You were on for like an hour?

LA LANNE: No, half hour.

KING: And you'd do exercises.

LA LANNE: Oh, yes.

KING: And you'd also open up spas. How many did you have?

LA LANNE: Yes, but before -- before this, to stay on the air I was sponsoring my own show -- I started developing Jack La Lanne products. I had my own bread, my own wafers, and I had my exercise equipment: everything that I believed in that was going to help people, because I could never sell anything I didn't believe in.

So, that took off. You can't believe this: We had dozens of people working for us, filling the orders. And it just took off. Bang!

When it really took off, when I hit Hollywood. A lot of the movie actors -- Gilbert Roland, and oh, gee some -- Bette Davis -- some of the big top movie stars used to have coffee klatsches every day and watch "The Jack La Lanne Show."

KING: Oh, you were an institution.

LA LANNE: And that meant...

KING: If you bought television, it was for you and Berle, and that was it, watching Kukla, Fran and Ollie.

LA LANNE: Well, thank you.

KING: You were...

LA LANNE: I don't want to be in with that bunch. I'm trying to be humble. It's tough.

KING: Well, I mean, you were a sensation. Did you open gyms too?

LA LANNE: Oh, yes.

KING: How many?

LA LANNE: We had about 100 Jack La Lanne health spas, but then we got rid of most of them. You know, Bally's has a lot of them now.

KING: Oh, the Bally fitness centers were Jack La Lanne.

LA LANNE: They were, some of them, yes.

KING: And then you were on for 34 years?

LA LANNE: 34 years.

KING: Consecutive years, every morning?


KING: More with the saga of Jack La Lanne on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, and we'll of course be including your phone calls. They're coming in already. Lots to talk about with this miraculous man, what he thinks about today's nutritionists and exercise folk.

Jack La Lanne -- what a week we've got coming. Tomorrow night, Pat Sajack. Wednesday night from Rikers Island, the Kimes, they've been convicted of murder. They're on way to prison. Thursday night, Governor George W. Bush of Texas. Friday night, Tom Sellek. Saturday night, Bob Costas. We'll be right back.


LA LANNE: Ah, how about the hands? Look at your hands. Come here. Come here. Come here.

Look at hands. Have you ever examined your hands?

Your hands, they're truly a masterpiece that the good Lord above here has done these. What a fabulous job. Man could never invent any machine that could do the job of the hands.

What do you ever do to keep them in condition? Not very much probably, huh?

Let's think about it. Right now, let me show you something real great to help to improve these hands of yours. Put them out in front of you, clench your fists, straighten your hands.

Ready, begin: 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4. Palms up. That's it. Knuckles together. 1, 2, 3. Now, a little faster. That's it. Come on. And rest. That's good.

Ah, did you feel them?



KING: Let's go back in time. Here is the opening for Jack La Lanne's first television show. Watch.


You know, students -- you don't mind my calling you students. As I told you, I like to consider myself as your personal physical instructor consultant, your health consultant. You know, I'm so excited this morning, this being our first day together, me being in your home and you going along with me having fun. I'm so excited what's going to happen: not what's going to happen to me, but what's going to happen to you.

I have made up my mind that I am going to get you in the best condition that you have ever been in your entire life. I'm going to have you looking beautiful and glamorous from your toes right to the ends of your fingers.


LA LANNE: When you believe in something.

KING: Jane Fonda was in elementary school at that minute. Jack La Lanne is our guest, the first to have athletes, women and elderly work with weights, the first to combine weight training and nutrition, the first to have a nationally syndicated television show on exercise. And you were denounced as a charlatan and a nut. Doctors said that weight work wouldn't work. Among other things, it would give people heart attacks, lessen sex drive and make women look like men.

LA LANNE: Absolutely. That is the truth, and I would be...

KING: They came after you.

LA LANNE: ... 6 foot 5 now if the doctors and everybody hadn't beaten me down.

KING: What was the argument against the weights?

LA LANNE: Well, the doctors then, they thought you'd get muscle- bound, it would wreck your heart. And see, in older people, I had people in their 80s working out with the weights in the '30s.

KING: How did you know weights were right?

LA LANNE: Because it worked for me. It saved my life. It changed my life.

KING: What does it do? LA LANNE: It builds up muscle, it builds up strength and endurance. The whole key today from the medical profession, if you're 70, 80, 90 years old, they want you to build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more you can eat, the longer you're going to live, the stronger your heart is.

You don't get old from calendar years. You get old from inactivity.

You know, I remember when I was a kid I wrecked my -- I broke my arm, and I had it in a cast for two months. And I took that arm out of the cast, it was skin and bone! Now, what made it atrophy like that? Age? Inactivity!

They take people right now, Larry, that are in their '90s and they double their strength and double their endurance in six to eight weeks.

KING: And now they have all athletes doing it, baseball players.

LA LANNE: Absolutely.

KING: Hey, Tiger Woods lifts weights. He...

LA LANNE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) bench pressing 350. And there is not one world-class woman, they're all using weights.

It's not the idea to build a terrific body, here I am, but it's for the efficiency, the strength...

KING: Let's go through your daily regimen, as we have it. Two hours every day.

LA LANNE: Yes, seven days a week. Even on the road I work out.

KING: You eat protein from egg whites, a little fish, whole grains, lots of raw vegetables, fresh fruits, no dairy, no processed sugar. Take vitamin and mineral supplements. You're 5 foot 6, you weigh 150. You pulse rate is 52.

LA LANNE: Or less, yes.

KING: 17 percent body fat.

LA LANNE: Right. My waist is about 30, my is chest 45, hips are 35, neck is 17.

KING: Do you have any disease? Anything physically wrong?

LA LANNE: I'm in good shape for the condition I'm in.


KING: Doctors credit this with saving your life -- there was a car crash, right? You had several, and then the fact that you survived it. LA LANNE: Oh, yes, I had a terrific head-on automobile accident, and I had both my knees replaced, you know. But everything's fine, you know. Thank God to the medical profession, they do a lot of wonderful things, you know.

But you know, things are happening in our society right now. There is no reason for anybody to be overweight. There is no reason for people to be out of shape. Every woman, every man, every child should be feeling better than...

KING: But every book deals with it. Everybody talks about it. But we're still...

LA LANNE: Absolutely. But the thing now, we've got to get people doing it!

KING: If everybody buys the books and everybody wants to do it...


KING: You make it sound easy. Obviously, it isn't.

LA LANNE: Look, what good is a Rolls Royce automobile if you don't drive it. What good are the things that I profess, the exercise and nutrition, if people don't follow it.

You know, to work -- to be in good shape it only takes like a half an hour three or four times a week. You've got 24 hours a day. If you don't have enough -- half an hour out of that 24 hours three or four days a week, you've got to be sick.

Would you get your dog up in the morning, give him a couple of coffee, a cigarette and a donut?


Well, you'd kill him. But look at how many millions of people got up this morning with a cop of coffee, a cigarette and a donut, and wonder why they can't get it on anymore, why they're sick, why they're tired, why they're old. Because they put the wrong fuel in this human machine.

KING: Yes, you think about it, it's very logical.

LA LANNE: Well, it is. It's so simple -- you know, people -- you know, there are so many books out on nutrition out. They're so complicated. You've got don't eat the carbohydrates and the starch together, don't eat the fat and the sugar together. How about a walnut? How about a piece of grain? It's got fat in it, it's got sugar, and it's got protein. It's got everything.

If nature didn't want you to have all these things in combination, but somebody has got to sell a book. They say, oh, all vegetables and all fruit. And the poor average person out there, they're so confused, they don't know which way to go. KING: So the simplest way is...

LA LANNE: If man made it, don't eat it. You know, just think about it.

KING: If man makes it...

LA LANNE: Don't eat it.

KING: Don't eat it.

LA LANNE: You know, man fools around with everything: the air you're breathing, the water you drink, the grains. Practically all your grains now, somebody -- they take all the bran out and they put preservatives in them, all this white sugar and all these soft drinks.

I'm not condemning anything, but we could take all these wonderful things and supplement them with something that's going to be good for the people.

KING: What do you eat for pleasure? What tastes great?

LA LANNE: If -- you know how I trained myself? I was the biggest sugar-holic in this world up to 15. And I got it in my brain, because I have this ego -- I wanted to build a Mr. America-type body. I wanted to be an athlete. I wanted to be handsome. I wanted the girls to like me. So I figured I had to earn that. And I figured that any foods that I put in my body that's going to take away from my strength and my energy in my body, I created a dislike for it.

What can you taste? Only sweet and sour. So when I eat something, I say, what is it doing for me? My energy, my vitality, my sex life, my hair, my skin. What's it doing for Jack La Lanne?

You've got to be selfish about these things. Then I create a liking for it. And that's what (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to do.

KING: So you then say to yourself sugar -- this is bad, this is bad, this is bad, I won't eat it?

LA LANNE: Absolutely, right on the button. You don't have to be a nut about this. People can they -- if they want to have a little drink once in a while, they want to have a little ice cream or a little -- it isn't what you do once in a while. It's what you do all the time.

But I'm a nut. I go overboard, you know, because I remember what I was as a kid. And now...

KING: Yet you were underweight, though. That's amazing.

LA LANNE: I was 30 pounds underweight. Right.

KING: Jack La Lanne is our guest. We'll be including your phone calls. He does lectures. There's also You can get him on the Internet. We'll be right back. Don't go away.


LA LANNE (singing): We've been starving, exercising the extra pounds away. See our bulges disappearing, side and front and rear. Don't you feel our charm's improving? Don't answer that, my dear.





ANNOUNCER: Stop, look, listen: It's time for "The Jack La Lanne Show" from Hollywood, starring the world-famous nutritionist, author, lecturer, and physical culture expert on your figure and beauty.

And now here is the man who will show you how to feel better, look better, and live longer, Jack La Lanne.


KING: Hey, man.

LA LANNE: It seems like yesterday.

KING: Yes, those were the days.

LA LANNE: What's the matter with today?

KING: Not with you, I wouldn't bet.

LA LANNE: I'm a today person.

KING: 86.

LA LANNE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what I did. It's what you're doing.

KING: You met your wife -- she interviewed you, right?

LA LANNE: When I first met my wife -- this was 1951. She was the girl Friday on this talk show in San Francisco, on ABC up there. And so they brought me on this show to do 1,000 push-ups during the show. And that's where we first met.

She was so skinny, had two fried eggs, you know, and she's about 30 pounds underweight.

KING: Fried eggs? Never heard that, Jack.

LA LANNE: Yes, she was really skinny.

KING: I'll leave that alone. LA LANNE: No. But you should see her today. She completely changed her body around with exercise and nutrition.

KING: You did 1,000 push-ups?

LA LANNE: Yes, all through the show, yes.

KING: All through the show you kept doing push-ups?


KING: Now when you were on number...

LA LANNE: She didn't fall in love with my muscle. She fell in love with my brain.

KING: When you were on No. 560 on push-ups, what keeps you going to 561?

JACK LA LANNE: You know...

KING: What is it?

LA LANNE: ... the body works for me. This body is Jack La Lanne's slave. That is why I treat it so good. And you folks have to think about this.

KING: What about people that say: I'm too told to start.

LA LANNE: I just told you earlier, remember, that even the people in their 90s.

KING: Yes, you said, but they have been doing it a while, right. Nobody starts at age...

LA LANNE: No, they started. They took...

KING: I thought you mean they've been doing it all their lives.

LA LANNE: No, no, no, they take people who have never done any exercise -- 80, 85, and 90, some them -- they did 10 or 15 different tests, medical doctors, and they doubled their strength and doubled their endurance in six to eight weeks. Think about this, now.

KING: You've got to get mental, though. When I get up in the morning, you've to say: I'm going to do it.

LA LANNE: Well, sure you. You know, what I'd rather do. For me, I work out like five or six in the morning. To leave a hot bed, leave a hot woman, go into a cold gym, that's dedication, boy.

KING: You ain't kidding.

LA LANNE: I'd rather take a beating. You know, everybody's: Oh, Jack, you love to exercise. I have never really, really liked to exercise, but I like the results. KING: Me too. No one likes exercise. You don't like doing this.

LA LANNE: No, talk to 1,000 athletes, ask them if they like to train. They hate it. But, you've got like -- you don't like to pay your income tax. Try not doing it.

KING: Do you believe you can retard aging?

LA LANNE: Oh, there is no doubt. There is absolutely -- you watch and see -- man -- you know dogs mature at two. They live six times their age of maturity. That's about 12, right. That is the most dogs -- 8, 10, 12 years. Man matures at 25. And most -- six times 25 is 150. And you know how many people now that are in their hundreds -- all over the world, It's just -- it's getting more and more. Look at our lifespans -- going up and up and up and up.

KING: What do you make when you see all the nutrition that's out. You see one saying eat this, don't eat that. Eat the carbohydrates. Don't eat them.

LA LANNE: Let me tell you. I just told you, you know, absolutely.

KING: Look at them on tele -- you see them everywhere.

LA LANNE: You know what, that is why the average person is so confused, Larry. This guy says this, he is an expert. This guy says this, he is an expert. And the poor, average person: What am I supposed to do? You know, let me tell you this. You can eat the greatest foods in the world. You can take vitamins and minerals and not exercise, you can't get by. But you can exercise vigorously and eat junk and get by. Look at some of these athletes. They're human garbage cans. But they exercise so hard, they are combustion engines. You know, exercise is king, nutrition is queen. Put them together, you've got a kingdom.

KING: How come so many American children are obese, do you think. Because of the schools...

LA LANNE: Why, advertising: Everybody jumps on you. You've got your great athletes. You've got the Michael Jordans and all these other guys selling their souls for millions of dollars. Drink this stuff. Eat this stuff. Have this candy bar. Have this hamburger, the hot dog. What do you think the kids are going to do. They worship these athletes. And they're going to do what athletes want them to do.

KING: Michael Jordan doesn't eat bad foods on television. You don't see him...

LA LANNE: Well, he has his hot dog. And he's got his cola drinks.

KING: Oh, that is bad, too, huh? I guess everything is bad, right, Jack? LA LANNE: I didn't say that. I said if man makes it, that is the key. But if you got to stick. You know, I just use the rule of thumb. You've got to stick to close to nature as you can, you know, natural.

KING: And schools cut back on physical ed and recess, right?

LA LANNE: That's sick. That's really sick, you know that. That's why these kids are in trouble. They get in front of the television all day and you wonder why they have all this promiscuity, and all the trouble they get into. And the obesity in these poor young kids; you know, they got this energy and vitality.

KING: What do you make of the fact that most of the exercise people we see on in the morning are pretty girls, with nice bodies.

LA LANNE: Because they...

KING: Attractive.

LA LANNE: If they had an attractive person, then the people out there would think: Oh, I don't want to look like her. I want to look sexy. It's the American plan. Everything is youth-oriented.

KING: What do you think of Richard Simmons?

LA LANNE: Richard Simmons is a good friend. Richard Simmons has helped so many people. He has got his schtick going, right? Richard wants you to eat better and exercise more, normalize your weight. Let's give him credit. He's done a heck of a lot for a lot of people, right?

KING: We'll back with La Lanne. We'll go to your calls in a little while, too. We'll tell you some of the amazing things this man has done. Don't go away.


LA LANNE: Want to do a trick with Daddy. You haven't done a trick in for long time.


LA LANNE: Want to a trick? Hey, watch, everybody, we're going to do a trick? Tell them to watch. Say, watch everybody, we're going to do a trick. Tell them to watch. Say, watch everybody. Tell them to watch. Say, we're going to a trick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to do a trick.

LA LANNE: OK, here we go. That foot, other foot, and away we go. That's it. Stay there, boy. Stay there. Wave to everybody in television land. Hey, there he goes.



KING: Color had come to TV, and La Lanne is on the ladder in color. Let me tell you about some of the things this man has done. At age 40, he swam the length of Golden Gate Bridge under water with 140 pounds of equipment. And age 45, he completed 1,000 push-ups and a thousand chin-ups in an hour and 22 minutes. At age 60, he swam from Alcatraz to Fisherman's Wharf, handcuffed, shackled, and towing a 1,000-pound boat. At age 65, in Lake Ashinoko, Tokyo, handcuffed and shackled, he towed 65 boats filled with 6500 pounds of pulp.

At age 70, handcuffed and shackled, fighting strong currents towed 70 boats with 70 people. From Queensway Bridge, he towed them, to the Queen Mary a mile and a half.

LA LANNE: Handcuffed and shackled.

KING: You are crazy.

LA LANNE: I am. You don't have to be crazy to do those things, Larry, but it helps. You know I wanted to.

KING: This is like Houdini.

LA LANNE: You know, and I wanted to prove -- yes, I wanted to prove that anything in life is possible. What can't we do? It starts with us. It starts your brain. All these 70-trillion cells down here, they take commands from up here. So you've got to keep setting your sights higher and higher. Look at some of the records today. You got guys that are 80, 85 years old that are doing triathlons now.

KING: I know.

LA LANNE: You know, and some of the incredible feats that people -- see, there's really no limit. The limit is right between your ears.

KING: You always believed in yourself.

LA LANNE: Absolutely.

KING: But when you go on and take down like dairy -- didn't have you the American Dairy Association come after you. Didn't you have people after you? Nobody ever took off after you, with your...

LA LANNE: You know what, I would slug them.

KING: I mean, you are not a fan of like white bread, right.

LA LANNE: Oh, absolutely not.

KING: Whole milk.

LA LANNE: Look it, we've got one of the foods on this earth are whole grain: rice, barley, wheat, oats. And takes the brand out of it, takes all these things, preservatives in to make it last longer. And, you pay twice the price, you know -- I'm not -- every supermarket has whole grain. But it is the average person like you out there, and us, to buy -- to make the right choices. See, it is up to us.

You know, we have to take responsibility for us. You know I have never heard, 5:00 in morning my gym: Jack, this Jesus. I will work out for you today. You help you. You know, nobody -- anything -- if any -- if I ever get arthritis or rheumatism or cancer, or anything happens to me, I made it happen. I broke nature's law somewhere along the line. You think about this. I made it happen.

KING: And you still lecture all around the country.

LA LANNE: Oh abso -- that's my whole thing, lecturing to medical groups, and lawyers, and colleges. That is my whole thing: helping people feel better, look better, so they can live longer. Give them the truth.

KING: Still believe in chiropractics?

LA LANNE: One-hundred percent, absolutely.

KING: They're good for you.

LA LANNE: I believe in alternative things. The medical profession...

KING: Dr Weil has been on many times.

LA LANNE: Yes, I give them a standing ovation at the medical profession. Look what they have done, how they have changed. Everything is eating whole grain bread now. The big disclaimer: be sure and exercise for everybody. You know, you've got to give credit for that.

KING: They used to discount that.

LA LANNE: Oh, absolutely.

KING: They didn't teach nutrition.

LA LANNE: Oh, you kidding? That was terrible. I'll tell you, the doctor -- oh my -- you women work out, but that way she'd look like men, and you guys won't get an erection, and you guys will get muscle bound. That's exactly what they said. Now, it's completely changed, thank God.

KING: Remember, as La Lanne says, you don't die of old age, you die of neglect.

When we come back, your phone calls for amazing Jack La Lanne. Pat Sajak tomorrow night; he's hosted for 16 years still most popular show in syndication, Wheel of Fortune.


LA LANNE: Ready, march together. One, two, three, four, one -- what kind of a soldier are you? Come on, knees up. One, you're just coming home from the battle. You're happy to be home. One, two, three, four, one -- knees up, that's it. How about those majorettes, you know, the baton twirlers, ever see them strut? Hup two, three, hup two, three, four.

No arms, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four.

Beginners, quit. Now you advanced students, let's break into a little trot. Come on, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four.

How about a little sprint, let's go, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. Hey, there they go -- bye. One, two, three, four, one, two, and rest, one two -- ho.


KING: The amazing Jack La Lanne. You can plug in to him at And people are calling from all over saying, he's alive. The man La Lanne lives.

Let's go to phone calls.

LA LANNE: I can't afford to die. It will wreck my image.

KING: Manassas, Virginia -- hello.



CALLER: I'd like to ask Jack if he had thought about making a videotape for seniors. I for one desperately need it, and I know a lot of people that do.

KING: A videotape for seniors.

LA LANNE: I have a...

CALLER: For seniors only.

LA LANNE: I have a video out now. It's called "Forever Young."

CALLER: Well where can I buy it? I've look all over.

KING: Where do you get it?


KING: Can you tune in

LA LANNE: What? Yes,

KING: And that will tell you...


KING: It should be in all the stores. Why isn't it in all the stores, Jack?

LA LANNE: Well, we -- because I've never -- you know...

KING: Business is not your bag.

LA LANNE: We haven't gone into that much commercialism. I don't know why, you know?

KING: You can help people.

LA LANNE: But we should -- I...

KING: Tapes are so big today.

LA LANNE: No, I am wrong. I should do this, because it's helping the people.

KING: Obviously.

LA LANNE: So my lovely wife, Elaine, we've got to get with it, OK?

KING: Coeur D'Alene, Idaho -- hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: Hi, Jack, you're a big inspiration to me...

LA LANNE: Perspiration.

CALLER: ... and I have a two-part question here. First question is, do you feel that we are healthier today than we were 50 years ago?

LA LANNE: Absolutely not, not -- for the average person, especially our younger generation, these kids are in the worst condition they've ever been in.

KING: What's the second part?

LA LANNE: Read your thing, you know, how many overweight kids there are today.

KING: What's the second part?

CALLER: And the second question is, I've injured my back and it's due to not stretching enough, Jack. I assume that you recommend it strongly on stretching.

LA LANNE: Absolutely. Stretching should be accompanied with -- before you exercise, you know. But you should -- if you do your exercise correctly, you'll get a lot of stretching, too. If you do everything complete extension and complete contraction. Now if you have trouble with your lower back -- you've been to a doctor? KING: Sorry, he's gone. But, I mean, what do you do when -- do you have recommended, you said to me, like, switch your exercises around a lot.

LA LANNE: Absolutely. You know, see, everything starts between your ears. About these muscles, these 60, 70 trillion cells work for us. You know, they don't know. The brain tells them what to do, right?

KING: So change your exercise.

LA LANNE: So you get bored with it. You know, that's why a lot of these runners, that's all they do. They do the same thing, day after day after day. Pretty soon, the knees start to go, the back starts to go. They get bored doing the same -- it's just like if you had to eat carrots the rest of your life, nothing else, you would be so bored. So...

KING: I would say.

LA LANNE: ... what I do, I started out when I was just a young kid, every 30 days, all my -- you know, when I had -- running my gym, every 30 days I would change everybody's program completely. See, it breaks the monotony, Larry. You're doing something different. And your muscles respond just like that and you prevent injuries.

KING: Dunseth, North Dakota -- hello.

CALLER: Hello, how does a 300-pound woman start an exercise program?

LA LANNE: You've got to start out very, very -- No. 1, get a physical. That's very important for a lot of people who haven't exercised for long to get a physical and find out what your blood pressure and everything is. The No. 1 thing, if you are overweight, you have to count calories -- period. Make sure...

KING: In other words, if you just exercise, it ain't going to work. You've got to...

LA LANNE: Oh, absolutely not. You can't do that much exercise. You know, especially for a person that's not overweight, they can't...

KING: So, 300-pound person.

LA LANNE: She should go get a doctor, you know, check, and then start out really -- the No. 1 thing, just a little...

KING: What's a good way -- what's a good way to start?

LA LANNE: Just a little walking. That's -- walking is a terrific exercise.

KING: Walk a couple blocks.

LA LANNE: Don't -- even the first day, maybe, just walk around your living room a little bit. You know, do that for maybe three or four minutes, then work it up to about 10 minutes. Then you can start go outside and walk, you know, three or four five blocks. You have to be the judge of it.

But the thing, if you're going to walk, you should walk vigorously. Really pull your waist in and stride out. And what I do, when I straighten my arms, clear overhead -- you know, clear overhead like that, you use an extra -- it burns extra calories, you're working a lot of muscles that you don't get from regular walking.

KING: By the way, does it help to pull your waste in?

LA LANNE: Absolutely.

KING: Somebody told me if you do that for...

LA LANNE: You are fighting gravity. My waist never ever relaxes. I never let it -- it's up. Even -- I look relaxed here, but my waist is like this table.

KING: Kailua Kona, Hawaii -- hello.

CALLER: Aloha, Larry.

KING: Aloha.

CALLER: This is Fred on the big island.


CALLER: And, Jack, I don't know if you remember. You went to school with...

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: You went to school with Jack Swarting (ph), Uncle Jack.

LA LANNE: You kidding? He's one of my close friends.

CALLER: Right.

LA LANNE: He was one of my first students. He started in -- when he was 15 years old.

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: I met you at his birthday party, and you told me I should get into shape.

LA LANNE: Did you?

CALLER: Well, you told me about how to get rid of my arthritis when I was young, and between the faith in the Lord and doing those exercises, I don't have to take a darn pill or anything...

LA LANNE: Thank you. CALLER: ... for arthritis. And I'm 68 now. I'm not quite as...

LA LANNE: Send money, not applause.

KING: What's your question?

CALLER: My question is, what's the hardest thing you had to give up, Jack?

KING: Good question.

LA LANNE: No doubt about it -- sugar.

KING: Sugar.

LA LANNE: That was my downfall. I was a complete, full-blown sugarholic. Everything was sugar, sugar, cakes, pie, candy, ice cream. My mother started me out -- of course, I was an irritable kid, I guess from birth, and my mother used to appease me. I -- you know, I'd do a good job in the potty chair, she'd give me cake or pies or ice cream, and I got hooked on it.

KING: What do you make of sugar substitutes?

LA LANNE: Well, they're better than the sugar, absolutely.

KING: I mean, certainly...

LA LANNE: But the thing of it is, you want to get -- your good things are from natural things, like fruits. You know, all your berries and melons and, you know, natural fruit.

KING: There's sugar in fruit, though.

LA LANNE: Oh, absolutely. But you need sugar. That's very important.

KING: It's energy.

LA LANNE: Absolutely.

KING: It drives the engine.

LA LANNE: But the thing is, you get so much of it. You know, these people, you have sugar in your baking stuff and your cakes and pies and candy and ice cream...

KING: All bread, right? All breads.

LA LANNE: ... and kids have all this stuff in between meals -- sugar, sugar, sugar. And it's just -- it's overconsumption.

KING: Have you ever had anything wrong with you?

LA LANNE: Not since I've been working out. I had a mastoid operation when I was, you know, about 12 years old or something. KING: That's an ear infection. But I mean, you've never had...

LA LANNE: No, no, never.

KING: You've never had anything wrong with you?


KING: Heart? Your physical tells you -- how old are you if I just looked at your physical.

LA LANNE: You know, I -- we -- I'm with this company called fitness age, where they have five exercises. It's all done with computers. They take your blood pressure and heart recovery, push- ups, a few other things like that, you know. And they put it through a computer, and mine came out at 29. If you ever get a chance to do this fitness age test, you should do it.

KING: And you came out 29 years old?

LA LANNE: Twenty-nine. Well, look at the way I work out, Larry. I never miss a workout. I have never let my strength, you know, slip immeasurably.

KING: You never have a day where you say...

LA LANNE: Are you kidding? Every day I don't want to do it. But I get the devil...

KING: Me, too.

LA LANNE: ... and I kick her off my shoulder and I work out.

KING: We'll be right back with...

LA LANNE: Next thing I do, I look at myself in the mirror, I say, Jack, you've done it again.

KING: We'll be back with more of Jack La Lanne, inspiration to millions, keeps on keeping on.

Don't go away.


LA LANNE: Dee dum dee da da dee dee dee dee. Dee dee dee dee, la da la dee dee dee. Come on, sing along with Jack -- new program.

Da dee dee dee dee dee dee dee. And you look sweet upon the seat of the bicycle built for two. Beginners, you can quit -- you should have quit a long time ago.



KING: By the way, Jack La Lanne just told me you don't have to work out two hours a day, he does it because he's macho...

LA LANNE: You're right.

KING: ... and a little nuts. But if you get a good workout in 20 minutes, you're good, right?

LA LANNE: Right, twenty minutes, 30 minutes.

KING: You do it just because you like challenges.

LA LANNE: I just want to see how long I can keep my strength and my looks and my energy up, you know. It is a pride...

KING: Do you ever have days where you say...

LA LANNE: See...

KING: You never have a day where you say, forget it.

LA LANNE: You know the big thing, Larry -- pardon me, don't intrude when I'm interrupting -- no, but, you know the big thing -- two things. I wish all you ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls will remember this, there are two things in this life to really remember, what you have to develop, pride and discipline. If we could get pride and discipline in all our young people, in our people in America here, you would have a different nation in a year, so far as our health and condition is concerned.

KING: Mission Viejo, California for Jack La Lanne, hello.

CALLER: Hello there.


CALLER: Larry, first I want to congratulate you on being a great interviewer, but I think you've met your match.


CALLER: Jack, I was a -- had the opportunity to ride in the press boat that followed you from Alcatraz to Fisherman's Wharf.

LA LANNE: I'll be doggone.

KING: Wow.

LA LANNE: I will be a son of a gun.

CALLER: And I'm your age and I'm still going strong, but, Jack, I have in my hand a Mexican money that has Jack La Lanne, Hi, Elaine Doyle (ph), Kevin Keaton (ph), Don Arlett (ph), Lou Hurly (ph) and Myrtle (ph).

LA LANNE: That's all from ABC up in San Francisco.

KING: Where was that? CALLER: That is right. And...

LA LANNE: Lou Hurly, he had the...

CALLER: ... Sunny Cove.

But, Jack, will you tell them how you put on nice cufflinks and swam from Alcatraz?

KING: You put on cufflinks to swim?

LA LANNE: No, handcuffs.

KING: Handcuffs, yes.

LA LANNE: You know, nobody has ever escaped from Alcatraz, right?

KING: I know. Why did you do that?

LA LANNE: My -- to prove that anything is possible.

KING: So you handcuffed yourself.

LA LANNE: And you know what? This got international publicity.

KING: How can you swim if you're handcuffed?

LA LANNE: It's -- you swim like a dolphin, but then a lot of these feats I did my feet and hands were tied.

KING: Now, those waters are cold...

LA LANNE: Absolutely. Some of them I did...

KING: ... choppy, and there are sharks.

LA LANNE: Yes, but some -- you know, just -- one of my feats up there, just before I did it two fellows were hit by sharks. So when I did my thing we had a policeman, you know, with rifles following me in case the sharks came, to shoot them, because I can't afford to lose any parts.

KING: Yes, pretty good thinking. Pretty good thinking, Jack.


KING: What did she mean by the money?

LA LANNE: I don't know what she was quite talking about that. You know...

KING: Ocean Ridge, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Jack.


CALLER: How come you didn't pursue your career in chiropractic?

KING: Good question.

LA LANNE: Because I was having -- so much of my business was coming from the medical doctors. And in those days, the medical doctors and chiropractors were like cats and dogs. But if they knew I was a chiropractor they wouldn't send me any business.

KING: Now...

LA LANNE: But today, thank God, there is changing people, everybody is getting together. Alternative medicine is a big thing now, and that is a big, big wonderful plus for America that everybody is getting together.

KING: Now, doctors -- many doctors accept chiropractors. Used to call them quacks.

LA LANNE: Absolutely, right.

KING: Do you know Gray's Anatomy? Did you study that?

LA LANNE: That is how I got started. When I was 15 years old, I wanted to have a terrific body, I wanted to be an athlete, so that was my -- even in school, in high school, everybody would be studying their history and I would have Gray's Anatomy out behind my history book learning all the muscles. I was obsessed with it, I wanted to learn the workings of every muscle, every nerve.

KING: Do you exercise every part of your body?

LA LANNE: Absolutely.

KING: I noticed you were doing that finger thing.

LA LANNE: Yes, that is the key to it. See, all the joints in your body, you know, you can completely extend and they -- you know, contract everything. You have to work all these things. That's why older people, they should work their feet, work their flexibility.

KING: Do they still do those -- what are they -- isometric -- you just go -- press it against -- do you like that?

LA LANNE: Everything is good. You know, you have to stretch your fingers like this.

KING: Press it against an object, right?

LA LANNE: Good, anything.

KING: Anything.

LA LANNE: Anything where you are using energy beyond what you are using is going to be a plus. You know, your health account and your bank account, they're synonymous. The more you put in, the more you take out, right?

KING: You have all these little things, exercise is like sex, you can never overdo it.

LA LANNE: Well, I just want to get my message over, I want to get into people -- you know, people out there, they're so confused about so many things that I have to give them little things to get them thinking. My God, he is right. It's like two and two is four, keep it simple, stupid. That is what I do.

KING: Better to wear out than rust.

LA LANNE: Isn't that the truth? That is the only way you hurt -- you people out there, so many of you are lounging, you sit around on your big backsides, and you're fat and you're out of shape, and you are praying to God, dear God, please -- God is not going to do anything. You've got to do it, God gives you the power to do it. God helps them that help themselves, and I hope that each and every one of you help the most important person on this Earth -- you!

KING: I want to apologize for the lack of exuberance on the part of our guest tonight, but we will try to draw him out a little more.

We'll be right back. Don't go away.


LA LANNE: Open your mouth as wide as you can -- come on now, try this. Now purse your lips -- come on, don't laugh at me please, this is serious business. I know it doesn't look too great, it looks a little funny perhaps to you, but it's going to make you look so much better so far as firming up the muscle in your face is concerned.

All right, now open your mouth as wide as you can, come on, purse your lips. Good. Now, purse your lips and turn your face from side to side. Watch me, go. That is it. Good. Well, now open your eyes and your mouth wide, come on. Close your eyes and mouth tight.



KING: Governor George W. Bush on Thursday, Bob Costas on Saturday.

Jack La Lanne tonight.

Columbus, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Jack. I was wondering if you believe in vitamins or supplements?

LA LANNE: Do I believe in vitamins? If you don't take vitamins on a regular, you know, supplement to a regular basis it's like going to bed with a rattlesnake, it's going to get you. That is what I say about exercise. KING: Well, what do you take every day?

LA LANNE: I take at least 40 or 50 different vitamins, everything from A to Z. And most of the supplements I take are natural, I take zinc, I take herbs, I take the whole minerals...

KING: Folic acid?

LA LANNE: ... enzymes, I take everything.

KING: You take them all, A, E?

LA LANNE: You know, a lot of people -- you know, they say, well, Jack, do you believe in that stuff? Well, maybe some of them they may not do things, but they may. Just like the guy wearing that rabbit's foot around his neck, he says, you don't believe in that stuff do you? In case it works.

KING: Steroids? You ever take steroids?

LA LANNE: Steroids, I wouldn't take a steroid if you'd give me $10 trillion.

KING: No way.

LA LANNE: Absolutely. That -- look at how many people, especially in my profession, some of these body builders, you know, some of them have died, and they end up in the hospital taking these steroids. It's -- you start fooling around with Mother Nature, you start taking all these supplements, all these artificial things, it's going to catch up.

KING: The weightlifters, a lot of them do it.

LA LANNE: But you know why?

KING: Athletes.

LA LANNE: Because the only thing they think of -- they -- you know, a lot of these people, you know, it's going to take years off their life, but if they can break a world's record -- I talk to a lot them, say I don't care about that, I just want to break this record, and they don't care how they do it. It is absolutely the truth.

But for the average person, boy, stay away from all that unnatural stuff. You know drugs -- you know, so many people, they don't. They've got one thing to put you to sleep, another thing to wake you up, another thing to make you go to the bathroom. You put all these things together, and boy, that is why so many people have a deleterious effect mixing all these things together.

KING: You don't take any drugs.

LA LANNE: Nope, no way.

KING: No prescription drugs. LA LANNE: Nope.

KING: You've taken aspirin in your life, I guess.

LA LANNE: Well, I have, but I don't need all that stuff. You know, if you...

KING: Are you pretty much pain free?

LA LANNE: Absolutely. I have got a couple pains, you know, but...

KING: How much of this might be genes? How long did your father lived?

LA LANNE: I think about 50.

KING: Not genes.


KING: By the way, I just noticed this. Francois Henri (ph) is your name.

LA LANNE: My real name, Francois Henri La Lanne. My mother and father were born in France. And they came over on the same boat.

KING: It's a (OFF-MIKE) name. Where do you get from Francois Henri, Jack?

LA LANNE: My brother started me Jack when I was a kid.

KING: Jacque.

LA LANNE: Yes, but then I changed to Jack, Jack La Lanne. You've got to be something.

KING: Yes, everyone has to, Francois.


KING: Good luck. OK.

We'll be back with our remaining moments. You can type into him at And he's doing lectures as well.

Pat Sajak tomorrow night.

Don't go away.


LALANNE (Singing): It's time to leave you. Let's say goodbye. These precious moments just seem to fly. Now here's my wish for you. May the good Lord bless you, and keep you too.



KING: With Jack La Lanne, we've hoped you enjoyed this hour. We're in our remaining moments.

Albany, New York, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Jack, I just want to find out if Happy lived as long and healthy a life as you seem to be.

KING: Happy, the dog.

LA LANNE: Yes, Happy, I think about 12 when he died.

KING: What kind of dog was that?

LA LANNE: A white german shepard.

KING: There he is.

LA LANNE: Then, I had black ones. Now, I have a new one now that's a regular (CROSSTALK)

KING: How did you get the idea to put a dog on the show? The dog didn't do anything.

LA LANNE: To attract kids. The kids have control of the television in morning. And I say: Boys and girls, if you go get mother and daddy and bring them over from the television, I'll have Happy do a special trick for you. And I would have him sit up and roll over and do all kinds of stuff.

KING: You were sneaky.

LA LANNE: I had to do that to get the audience, you know. You know, when you believe in something, and you are backed against the wall, things come out of it. You know, we are all geniuses, everyone of you out there. There's only one of you. You have things that I will never have. I'll have things you will never have, and vice versa. We are all different. And we all -- but we've all got so much inside of us. And I hope each and every one out there start working out, start eating better, normalize your weight, so you can enjoy the greatest country in the world.

KING: Santa Rosa, California, hello.



CALLER: Hi, Jack, I used to exercise with you 40 years ago.

LA LANNE: No kidding.

CALLER: Really. LA LANNE: You started out when your were one.

CALLER: Yes. You look so terrific. Your skin and your face look fabulous.

LA LANNE: I work at living, not dying. You know, the simplest thing to do is die. That is easy.

CALLER: Have you ever done anything at all cosmetically?

LA LANNE: Nothing, I wouldn't have anything done -- well, I wouldn't say I wouldn't -- but I haven't, no, because I'd feel I would be lying cheating. You know, if I was actor or somebody like that, and they wanted to look best...

KING: How did you like, in the early days of television, getting famous, people recognize you on the street? What was that like.

LA LANNE: Oh, it's -- well, you can't go anywhere. You know, my show was shown for 14 years in the armed services. I'd go to Paris and Berlin. People recognized me there. I'm flattered. I really am, you know. And they say: Jack, look at, you know.

KING: Now, with the gyms and everything, you must have made an awful lot of money. You must have done very well.

LA LANNE: I'm not complaining.


LA LANNE: But my whole life is not making money. I never thought about making money. I have business people, you know, that take care of that. My whole thing is giving the truth to the people to show them that anything in life is possible. Make it happen.

KING: Would you go back on television?

LA LANNE: Absolutely. I'm not worth of, but...

KING: Some cable channel ought to eat you up grab you -- one of the health channel.

LA LANNE: I have got so much to tell people, and to talk to them about. You know, being example; after all, I'm still here. I'm definitely -- if right deal comes along, you know, I don't want to be, you know, I want to be able to tell the truth. And I can't have any gimmicks. It has got to be Jack La Lanne period. I'm definitely going back on television.

KING: And obviously, your appeal is still there. And you've still got your vigor and all of those kinds of things.

LA LANNE: Oh, thank you. I better have it.

KING: What came up with singing?

LA LANNE: About the what?

KING: The singing? Why did you start singing?

LA LANNE: Oh, I wanted to be an opera singer. When I was a young kid, I was always very bashful and very timid. And I learned a few arias, because we have phonographs in those days.

KING: But how did you get idea to sing on an exercise show?

LA LANNE: Well, it was just something that came out of head. I thought it would be a little personal touch. You know, it was a little thing, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), it is time to leave you, let's say goodbye These precious moments just seem to fly.

KING: So you'd sing them, right?

LA LANNE: Oh, yes.

KING: Do a little.


KING: Go ahead now. Do a little.

LA LANNE (Singing): It's time to leave you. Let's say goodbye. These precious moments just seem to fly. Now here's my wish for you. May the Good Lord bless and keep you too.

KING: And you too.

LA LANNE: And Larry, may I tell you something? If there were more people like you, it'd be a better world, right?

KING: Thank you, Jack.

Jack La Lanne, and you can check in with him at He does lectures and he's still right around. And you will be seeing a lot more of him, I think.

Tomorrow night, our special guest will be Pat Sajak. On Wednesday night, from Riker's Island prison, the Kimes, the mother and son sentenced over 100 years for murder. Thursday night, Governor George W. Bush of Texas. Friday night, Tom Selleck joins us. Saturday night, Bob Costas, Harvey Mackay (ph) and others.

That is all ahead this week on LARRY KING LIVE.

Thank you very much, from Los Angeles, with Jack La Lanne. Stay fit.

Good night.



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