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Italian-American bodybuilder Charles Atlas founded a highly successful mail-order business from his patented "Dynamic-Tension" exercise program.
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By the 1950s, the Dynamic-Tension regimen had been translated into seven languages and sold to nearly 1 million customers worldwide. Atlas remained a popular brand well into the next decade, but was shaken when his wife, Margaret, died of cancer in 1965. He sold his half of the company to Roman in 1969, though he remained involved as a consultant.
Atlas died of a heart attack on December 24 (some sources say December 23), 1972, in Long Beach, New York. The passing of the legendary strongman marked the dawn of a new era of physical fitness, as the creation of Nautilus machines and aerobic exercise bikes paved the way for the fitness boom of the 1970s.
Charles Atlas Ltd. remained in the hands of Roman until he sold it to Arkansas lawyer Jeffrey C. Hogue in 1997. The company continues to market the original Dynamic-Tension exercise regimen, earning most of its business via the internet while still receiving a share of old-fashioned order slips through the mail.
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