Saturday, June 8, 2013

June 8, 1971

J. I. Rodale (1898-1971)

On this day in history... a man died (big surprise, huh?).

Like the late James Ferrozzo, it wasn't so much that he died, but how he left us. In death, as in life, style and timing are everything.

Jerome Rodale was an early proponent of healthier eating, and his legacy continues today. He was one of the first to support sustainable agriculture, and believed crops should be grown without pesticides. His publishing empire lives on today, with the magazine Prevention, which he founded, and more recent additions such as Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World.

On this day in 1971 he appeared on the then-popular television talk show, The Dick Cavett Show. It aired late-night, but was taped earlier each day in front of a live studio audience.

Mr. Rodale (age 72) was the first guest interviewed, and happily went over his beliefs in living a healthier lifestyle. He promoted the benefits of organic farming, and expressed his optimism over its effects on himself. Things he said during the show included:

"I'm in such good health that I fell down a long flight of stairs yesterday and I laughed all the way."

"I've decided to live to be 100."

"I never felt better in my life!"

"I'm going to live to be 100, unless I'm run down by some sugar-crazed taxi driver."

After the interview, Mr. Rodale sat back in his chair as Dick Cavett brought the next guest onstage (New York Post writer Pete Hamill). As Cavett and Hamill chatted, Rodale made a loud snoring noise, and appeared to doze off in his chair. The audience thought he was pretending to be bored, and laughed.

According to witnesses, Cavett asked "Are we boring you, Mr. Rodale?" (Cavett to this day denies making that remark). Hamill looked at Rodale, then turned to Cavett and said "This looks bad."

Two production interns ran onstage and began doing CPR (unsuccessfully) on the healthy-lifestyle advocate as Cavett took the microphone and asked "Is there a doctor in the audience?"

Cavett, in a 2007 interview with the New York Times, said "I thought, 'Good God, I'm in charge here. What do I do?' Next thing I knew I was holding his wrist, thinking, I don't know anything about what a wrist is supposed to feel like."

Mr. Rodale was later found to have suffered a heart attack. The episode was never aired, with the network choosing to show a re-run in its scheduled place.


Anonymous said...

If that happened now it would be on YouTube before his body was out of the studio.

Hildy said...

Shades of Adele Davis. NEVER announce that you're healthy.

Moose said...

Prevention, Men's Health, all those rags, they're a scourge on the world. The people who write for them have less science and medical knowledge than I do. Most of the articles have the scientific accuracy of People Magazine. A lot of what they publish is PR from drug companies and some of it is flat out made up.

I've had people try to explain to me how actual studies published in peer reviewed magazines must be wrong because they don't agree with what those crappy rags have said.

On second thought, comparing them to People magazine might be an insult to People magazine.

Officer Cynical said...

I can hear Fred Foy now: "This sort of thing never happened when I was doing the 'Lone Ranger'!"

Anonymous said...

Add to that the death of Jim Fixx

Anonymous said...

...and the moral to the story being-

enjoy that bacon-chesseburger you were thinking of having for lunch.

Ivan Ilyich said...

It's a bad idea to predict how long you'll live. There are too many factors, most of them unknowable.

Adele Davis' death from cancer didn't have the same irony. As she said, "I haven't claimed to have a cure for cancer."

The fact that advocates of healthy eating die is not a good reason to eat unhealthy food. (But I am not offering a defense of dietary advice of either Rodale or Davis.) In the words of William Munny in "Unforgiven," "We all have it comin', kid."

laura said...

Yes, Keith Richards has outlived Jim Fixx by 17 years and counting

RehabRN said...

Gave me a flashback to one of my first rehab patients when I was a new nurse.

Worked out in therapy, ate lunch and we found him snoring just like that.

Got him whisked off to ICU right away, but he didn't make it through the night, since they called a code there right before I came into work.

You just never know...

gloria p said...

I was thinking of Adele Davis, the "Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit' author. She was going to live to at least 100 also. Fate has a sense of humor.

Packer said...

@Moose, What magazine do you know of that isn't a shill. Bicycling Magazine, Rodale Published, for 15 years shilled for Lance Armstrong, he was everything about bicycling, 24/7/365. Poof it is over, they can't even put together a decent read.

Ivan Ilyich said...

Gloria p, I think you are mistaken if you are saying that Adelle Davis was claiming that her regimen would lead to an unusually long life. Her message was living a healthy life, not a superannuated one. In her own case, she did live to the biblical age of threescore and ten, most of those years healthy.

I'm not endorsing her program. Some of her advice was sound, some was not. But I see no irony in her death, as some do.

Anonymous said...

Yet another excellent argument for eating whatever the hell you want.

Nutrition is important, but so is moving our big asses once in a while (all tiny asses in da house excluded of course).

Moderation, in all things. But denying oneself those things that you enjoy - within reason, and legal - is in a very scientific word...stooopid.

Anonymous said...

Well, I have to ask. It says he died from a heart attack, but could the fall down the stairs the day before have had anything to do with it?

Anonymous said...

This is coincidental, my spouse and I were talking about various exercise options the other night and something about Jim Fixx came up. My husband insisted he died on the Dick Cavitt show. I was pretty sure Mr. Fixx died while out jogging. This is obviously the guy he was thinking about, so I will have to share this story with him tonight.

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