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Who was the “Jumping Jack” named for?

If you said Jack LaLanne, you’re right and you might even have followed the so-called “Godfather of Fitness” back when exercise and healthy eating were rare. LaLanne, who died this week at the age of 96, was a fixture of my childhood, before Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda made their own indelible mark on our culture.

As a child, LaLanne cut out white flour and sugar from his diet. Within a week he felt better and a fitness guru and evangelist was born. Last year during an interview celebrating his 95th birthday, he said, “I can’t afford to die, it’ll wreck my image!”

Fat chance Jack! 60 years of exclaiming the benefits of moving and feeding our “combustion engine” bodies with the right fuel, 34 of which were on television, and we’re converts.

If Jack LaLanne left his mark on our bodies, Robert Sargent Shriver left his mark on our souls. Shriver who died last week at age 95, left a legacy rich in giving, peace, social justice and living the values of community service. Shriver initiated social programs during the 1960s that helped shape an era that dared millions of young Americans to live out their ideals.

Many of us know friends who served (or who are still serving) in the Peace Corp… or are connected to the Special Olympics… or have been affected by the civil rights movement… or have benefitted from Head Start, VISTA or Job Corps. Regardless of your personal politics, Shriver was a man who worked to make the world a better place and who leaves behind generations of inspired, better people.

This week, CPT12.1 remembers Mr. LaLanne on “11th Hour” at 9 pm on Friday, January 28 (repeating on Monday, January 31 at 9:30pm). “11th Hour” is the interview program during which each half hour episode featured a distinguished guest who graciously agreed to confront their own mortality by answering the question: what final message would you leave for future generations?

“American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver” airs Monday, January 31 8pm.
This 1 ½ hour biographical documentary tells the story of Robert Sargent Shriver, husband of the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver and father of former California first lady, Maria Shriver, was the founder of the Peace Corps, VISTA, Community Action, Head Start, Legal Services for the Poor, Youth Corps and Job Corps among others.

What are your favorite memories of Jack LaLanne and/or Sargent Shriver? How did either of these American icons change your life or the way you look at the world?

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