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Before Charles Atlas “Made a Man out of Mac,” he turned himself into America’s “Most Perfectly Developed Man”

October 14, 2013


The Charles Atlas exercise regimen is mostly remembered for the omnipresent ads that appeared in comic books for decades. They depicted (with several slight variations) a scrawny young weakling named Mac, who gets sand kicked in his face on the beach, has his horrid, shrewish girlfriend stolen from him by the beefy bully, then does the Atlas Dynamic Tension workouts and returns to the site of his humiliation to wreak his muscular revenge. They were great, definitive of the genre, and even inspired a comic book character of their own. The above ad from 1945 is a prior, more self-absorbed incarnation of the sales pitch, touting Atlas’s personal journey from broomstick to sculptor’s model — still in good old sequential art. It’s a little more narcissistic, though you have to love the “Husky He-Man” verbiage.

One question: Was Atlas America’s Most Perfectly Developed Man or the World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man? Because this ad claims both. Did he just assume the latter after winning the former, not considering that there might be a more refined physique on the other side of the globe? A bodybuilding Borat poised to knock him from his perch?

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