Walter Marcyan, 94; bodybuilder sold fitness equipment, owned gyms

From Times Staff Reports

Walter Marcyan, 94, a Muscle Beach bodybuilder who developed an early multi-station weightlifting machine that helped popularize working out at the gym, died of complications related to old age on Sept. 6 at his Escondido home, his family said.

First manufactured in the 1960s, Marcyan’s machine “played a huge role in making gyms a little more friendly to the average man or woman who wanted to train,” said Terry Todd, a fitness historian and kinesiology professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

Marcyan’s version of the universal weightlifting machine enabled users to do more complicated workouts, Todd said.


Marcyan’s company, Marcy Fitness Products, became a leading manufacturer of gym equipment in the 1970s, said Tom Lincir, founder of Ivanko Barbell Co. in San Pedro.

Born in 1913 in Chicago, Marcyan performed hand-balancing acts in the 1940s at Santa Monica’s Muscle Beach. He was also a competitive bodybuilder and weightlifter who won the “best arms” trophy in the 1948 Mr. America contest at the Shrine Auditorium.

In 1946, Marcyan opened the House of Health, the first of his seven Los Angeles-area gyms, and began manufacturing exercise benches and machines. After becoming a chiropractor in 1965, he developed machines for professional use.

Betty, his wife of 51 years, had been in failing health and died one day before her husband. She was 87.

Loretta King Hadler, an actress best known for her role as Janet Lawton in the 1955 Ed Wood cult film “Bride of the Monster,” died of natural causes Sept. 10 at her home in Century City, her nephew Norman Funk said. She was 90.