Reginald Bernie Lewis, born on January 23, 1936, in Niles, California, left an indelible mark on the world of bodybuilding and film. With his striking physique and charismatic presence, he became a notable figure in the world of fitness and entertainment.
Reginald Lewis, often simply known as “Reg,” was not just an American bodybuilder but also an accomplished actor. His journey in the spotlight began with a memorable appearance on the television game show “You Bet Your Life” in November 1959, where he and his wife, June, faced the legendary Groucho Marx.
In the 1970s, Reginald Bernie Lewis embarked on a remarkable transition from the world of bodybuilding to the glitzy and glamorous world of the silver screen. This transition marked the beginning of an exciting and multifaceted chapter in his life.
One of the standout moments of this transition was his notable role in the 1978 film “Sextette,” where he had the privilege of appearing alongside the legendary Mae West. Lewis’s connection with Mae West, however, predates his film career and can be traced back to 1954 when he became the youngest member of her revue at the tender age of 18. Joining Mae West’s revue was a pivotal moment in his journey, as it introduced him to the world of entertainment and set the stage for his future success.
Four years after joining Mae West’s revue, Reginald Lewis achieved the pinnacle of success in the world of bodybuilding by earning the prestigious title of Mr. Universe in the professional class. This accolade not only solidified his reputation as a formidable bodybuilder but also opened doors to Hollywood. Mae West, who had been impressed by his incredible physique and stage presence, honored him with the title of “Mr. Hercules” in a contest held at the Bert Goodrich Gym in Hollywood. This recognition served as a springboard for his burgeoning career in the movies, as it garnered the attention of studio casting heads and producers who recognized his potential as an actor.
Reginald Lewis made his big-screen debut in 1962, where he displayed his acting skills while battling fire-breathing creatures as the star of the Italian film “Colossus of the Stone Age.” This debut showcased his ability to captivate audiences with his on-screen presence and charisma. Subsequently, he continued to impress the entertainment industry and moviegoers alike by taking on diverse roles in various films.
In 1964, he portrayed a slave working for a genie, portrayed by the legendary Burl Ives, in “The Brass Bottle.” This role allowed him to exhibit his versatility as an actor and work alongside established talents in the industry. Lewis’s journey through Hollywood reached another milestone in 1967 when he played a chiropractor in “Don’t Make Waves,” a film starring luminaries like Tony Curtis and Sharon Tate. Sharing the screen with such renowned actors was a testament to his growing stature in the film world.
Reginald Bernie Lewis’s transition from bodybuilding to the silver screen was a remarkable journey that saw him evolve from a young talent in Mae West’s revue to a celebrated actor with a diverse filmography. His dedication, talent, and the recognition he received in both the worlds of bodybuilding and entertainment left an enduring mark on the hearts of his fans and the annals of Hollywood history.
Reginald Lewis had a notable career in bodybuilding as well. He competed in various bodybuilding federations, including the AAU, NABBA, IFBB, WBBG, and NBA. Throughout his competitive career, he achieved significant milestones, leaving a lasting legacy in the world of bodybuilding. Notably, he won the 1965 NABBA Mr. Universe Tall Class, the 1963 IFBB Mr. America overall title, and placed third at the highly prestigious 1970 Mr. Olympia competition. At the 1970 Mr. Olympia, he faced tough competition from legends like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sergio Oliva, solidifying his reputation as a formidable bodybuilder.
Reginald Bernie Lewis, with his dedication to bodybuilding and his captivating presence on the big screen, made a lasting impact in both the fitness and entertainment industries. His remarkable journey from a young recruit in Mae West’s revue to a celebrated bodybuilder and actor remains an inspiring part of his legacy.
Reg Lewis Bodybuilding Contests
Mr Northern California – AAU, Winner
Mr Olympics, Winner
Mr Pacific Coast – AAU, Winner
Mr USA, 2nd
Universe – Pro – NABBA, Tall, 1st
Mr America – IFBB, Overall Winner
Mr America – IFBB, Tall, 1st
Olympia – IFBB, 3rd
Pro Mr World – WBBG, 5th
Natural Mr America – NBA, Masters Tall, 2nd
Natural Mr America – NBA, Masters Overall Winner
Natural Mr America – NBA, Masters Medium, 1st