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My 5th Cousin's Husband, Eugen Sandow & His Manager & Friend Florenz Ziegfeld.

I came across an interesting piece of family and historic trivia today while adding some extended family in my family tree.


My 5th cousin, Robert Joceline Durand, married Claire Brookes in 1935. Claire's Aunt, Blanche Brookes, was married to Friedrich Wilhelm Muller who later became known by his stage name, Eugen Sandow. It was while I was adding Blanche and Eugen's marriage certificate in my tree that I noticed that one of the witnesses at their wedding was Florenz Ziegfeld, better known as Flo Ziegfeld, founder of the famous Ziegfeld Follies. Sandow was a world renowned strongman and Ziegfeld was his manager.


I decided to dig a little deeper, on the trail of yet another colourful relative in the family (well, extended family). 


Apparently Eugen Sandow and Flo Ziegfeld met when Ziegfeld hired Sandow to appear at Ziegfeld's father's nightclub, The Trocadero, in Chicago in 1893. This was at the same time that the World's Columbian Exposition was on and, although Sandow was under contract to another manager who wanted $1,000.00 a week to loan Sandow to Ziegfeld, they came to an agreement that Sandow would be loaned as an act for 10% of the gross of the nightclub act. 


Ziegfeld soon found that the audience at The Trocadero was more interested in watching Sandow's bulging muscles than they were with the amount of weight he was lifting. Ziegfeld decided to have Eugen pose and show off his muscles, and the legendary strongman added these poses to his routine. Sandow also had in his act a routine where he broke chains tied around his chest. Sandow was an instant hit and became Ziegfeld's first star.


In 1894, Sandow stared in a short film by the Edison Studios in which he is shown flexing his muscles. In the same year Sandow also appeared in a short Kinetoscope film that was part of the first commercial motion picture in history.


When Sandow left show business and returned to England, he opened the first of his Institues of Physical Culture where he taught exercise, weight training and dietary habits. He also worked on improving existing exercise equipment and invented others such as rubber strands for stretching and spring grip dumbells to exercise the wrists.


In 1901 Sandow organized the world's first body building contest, held at The Royal Albert Hall in London. The venue was so full that would be patrons were turned away at the door. An interesting fact, the three judges at this even were Sandow, Sir Charles Lawes the sculptor, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author.


Sandow also became a personal trainer to King George V of England, who had been following Sandow's regiments. 


Eugen and Blance had 2 daughters, Helen and Lorraine. Later in their marriage, Sandow was unfaithful to Blanche, something for which she never forgave him. When he died, Blanche insisted on his grave remaining unmarked as her revenge for Sandow having been unfaithful to her in their marriage.


Among Sandow's more notable friends included Thomas Edison, Flo Ziegfeld, King George V and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


Not a bad discovery for our family tree - something I would never have discovered had I not decided to build on my direct family and add more branches to our family history. You never know who or what you may discover unless you look!





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