Born in Brooklyn, New York on 9th November 1951 Louis Jude Ferrigno, was the son of Victoria and Matthew an Italian American Police Department Lieutenant, at the age of three, he contracted an ear infection resulting in an 80% deafness that would change his life forever.
Like every American child growing up, Lou Ferrigno loved to read comic books, two of his favourites where Spider-Man and Hulk, and he attributes his body building career to his role model, actor Steve Reeves who stared in Hercules.
Ferrigno started body building at the aged of 13, and after graduating from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1969 he won the title Mr. America and Mr. Universe. In his first attempt at the 1974 Mr. Olympia competition he came second being beaten by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the following year during the competition, he was subject to the body building documentary “Pumping Iron”.
He left the body building circuit for a number of years when he started his football career as a defensive lineman for the Toronto Argonauts, and competing in Strong Men competitions.
In 1977, he beat Richard Keil and Arnold Schwarzenegger to play David Banner’s muscular alter ego in the Universal Pictures version of The Incredible Hulk – even though Schwarzenegger and Ferrigno claim he didn’t audition for the part.
The TV series ran from 1978 to 1982, later generating 3 Hulk films, The Incredible Hulk Returns in 1988, the Trial of the Incredible Hulk in 1989 and The Death of the Incredible Hulk in 1990. Needless to say he was given a cameo role in the 2003 film Hulk (he played the Security Guard)
Over the years he has played himself in many programmes like The King of Queens, I Love You Man, and Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood. As he towers at 6 foot 5, and with his body building physique he made the obvious choice to play Hercules in 1983, following in his role model’s footsteps, not to mention excellent films like The Cage, The Cage 2, and the timeless classic Sinbad of the Seven Seas filmed in 1989.
Lou Ferrigno has gone on the record saying that “If I hadn’t lost some of my hearing, I wouldn’t be where I am now. It forced me to maximise my own potential. I had to be better than the average person to succeed”. Lou Feriggno has probably become a role model in his own right.
How many people can say that they have had the privilege to use their body to make a living?
How many of us wanted to play our comic book heroes?
Who wouldn’t want to follow the footsteps of their role models?
Not that many can say yes to one of the questions, let alone all three.