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Not too long ago, I posted a photo of Bob McCune (1921-2002), and somebody asked for more. Well, watch out what you wish for, because here is what is probably the most extensive "whatever happened to" series I've ever done. Be sure to read all the captions, folks, because this man led a fascinating life. When I got done with all the research for this one, all I could say was, "What a hell of a man!" I'm starting with my personal favorite photo by an unknown photographer.
Bob McCune's athletic abilities were first discovered at St. Mary's elementary school in Amsterdam, NY, where he was the only member of the school track team. They sent him to an interscholastic meet where he won four ribbons against much larger schools. This photo is from the 1939 edition of Amsterdam's Lynch High school. Bob is on the end second row from the top, and appropriately, at least for our purposes, shirtless and showing some early chest development.
In the winter of 1941-42 several interesting events occurred in Bob McCune's young life. Most obviously, the USA went to war, and all young men had to register for the draft with this image being Bob's registration card. It tells us that he was working at General Electric, a critical war industry that might have provided him with a couple of years draft deferment. At the same time, he was spotted playing hockey in Schenectady and offered a spot on the New York Rangers pro team. So what job did he choose? Neither. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he remained until May, 1946. The Draft Board evidently kept tabs on him and duly recorded his discharge date at the top of the card.
After he got out of the Navy in 1946, Bob McCune moved to the West Coast, first to the Bay Area where he studied a few semesters at Stanford U. on the GI Bill. He was "discovered" in a San Francisco gym by some unknown advisor and told he should move to LA where the Muscle Beach scene was developing. That let to competitive bodybuilding and his winning national titles in '47, '48, and '49, the latter being Mr. America. This photo was made at Muscle Beach by an unknown.
This photo from an unknown competition shows Bob McCune at right
and a guy named Steve Reeves at left. I don't know who won.
I suspect that this Russ Warner photo of Bob McCune is a "cutout" since a few details seem poorly cut. I think that's a detached barbell weight disc he's holding, and it just occurred to me that Warner may have cut out the background to avoid having the location of his nude photo shoot identified . . . especially if that happened to be a well known Los Angeles area gym.
Like quite a few competitive bodybuilders, Bob McCune became a professional wrestler. He had a successful career between 1950 and 1958. Oddly, I couldn't find any still photos of him during this period of his life. We do, however, have this interesting Australian newsreel clip.
Rather than kick back at the beach after his pro wrestling career ended in 1958, Bob McCune briefly took up used car sales in Los Angeles. Tiring of that, he became a salesman for the Encyclopedia Britannica, and won top national sales awards through the 60's into the 70's.
After his post-wrestling jobs as a used car and encyclopedia salesman, Bob McCune moved to Las Vegas and successfully took up the relatively new profession of legal sports betting. As best as I can figure, this was around 1980. I made this composite showing Mr. McCune in his office about 1996 (Atlanta Olympics shirt gave that away) and the rather plain cover of his "how to" book.