Lou Ferrigno

Louis Jude Ferrigno (born November 9, 1951) is an American actor, motivational speaker,  fitness trainer/consultant, and retired professional bodybuilder. As a bodybuilder, Lou won an  IFBB Mr. America title and two consecutive IFBB Mr. Universe titles, and appeared in the  bodybuilding documentary, Pumping Iron. As an actor, he is best known for portraying the title  role in the CBS television series, The Incredible Hulk. He has also appeared in several European produced fantasy/adventure films such as Sinbad of the Seven Seas and Hercules. His most  recent roles include a part in the 2009 feature film, I Love You, Man, and season five of the  reality series, Celebrity Apprentice. 

Lou was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Victoria and Matty Ferrigno. His father was an Italian American police lieutenant. Soon after he was born, Lou suffered a series of ear infections and  lost 75% of his hearing (though his condition was not diagnosed until he was three years old).  Undeterred by what some may have perceived as a disadvantage, Lou threw himself into  athletics (predominantly weightlifting and bodybuilding). 

Lou started weight training at age 13, citing bodybuilder and Hercules-star Steve Reeves as one  of his role models. He was also a fan of the Hercules films that starred Reeves and would later  himself play Hercules. Lou’s other childhood heroes included Spider-Man and the Hulk. Lou  attended St. Athanasius Grammar School and Brooklyn Technical High School, where he  learned mechanical engineering. 

Lou won his first major titles in 1973 – IFBB Mr. America and IFBB Mr. Universe – during  which, he lived in Columbus, OH. Lou was only 21 when he won his first Mr. Universe title, a  Guinness Book world record that stands to this day. In 1974, he came in second on his first  attempt at the Mr. Olympia competition. He came in third the following year, which was  documented in 1975s documentary, Pumping Iron. 

Lou worked throughout his early bodybuilding career as a sheet metal worker in a Brooklyn  factory. He did not enjoy the dangerous work, and left after a friend and co-worker accidentally  cut off his hand. Following this, Lou left the competition circuit for many years, a period that  included a brief stint as a defensive lineman for the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football  League. He had never played football and was cut after two games.

1977 brought the release of the now-iconic bodybuilding documentary, Pumping Iron, and the  attention of television producer Kenneth Johnson (Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman,  V, Alien Nation), who was seeking the right person to portray the larger-than-life comic book  superhero, The Incredible Hulk. With his 6 5 , 285 lb. frame, Lou was the biggest professional  bodybuilder at the time. He auditioned for the part of the green-skinned Goliath, winning the part  over fellow bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Lou was cast in the title role opposite Bill Bixby, who played his meek scientist/alter ego.  Although Lou and Bixby did not share lines on camera (except for one episode, “King of the  Beach” ), the two were friends, with Lou describing Bixby as “a mentor and a father figure” who  took Lou under his wing. Lou continued playing the Hulk role until 1981, although the last two  episodes were not broadcast until May 1982. The Incredible Hulk was a huge ratings success and  spawned several TV movies after the initial TV series completed its run 

Lou continued to remain busy after the end of The Incredible Hulk. His subsequent films  included Hercules (1983), Sinbad of the Seven Seas (1989) and Cage (1989). 

In the early 1990s, Lou returned to bodybuilding, competing for the 1992 and 1993 Mr. Olympia  titles. Finishing 12th and 10th, respectively, he then turned to the 1994 Masters Olympia, where  his attempt to beat Robbie Robinson and Boyer Coe was the subject of the 1996 documentary,  Stand Tall. After this, he retired from competition. 

Lou’s most recent credits include guest appearances on the CBS sitcom, The King of Queens,  (beginning in 2000 and continuing until the program’s conclusion in 2007, where he and his wife  Carla were depicted as the main characters next-door neighbors), Hulk (2003), The Incredible  Hulk (2008), I Love You, Man (2009), The Avengers (2012), and Celebrity Apprentice: Season 5 (2012). 

Most recently, he and his family started Ferrigno FIT – a community focused on positive habits,  lifestyles, and ideas. 

On May 3, 1980, he married psychotherapist Carla Green, who then also began serving as his  manager and later became a personal trainer herself. They have three children: Shanna (1981),  Louie (1984), and Brent (1990). 

In February 2006, Lou was sworn in as a Los Angeles County, California reserve sheriff deputy  and in November 2010, Lou was sworn in as a member of a Maricopa County, Arizona volunteer  sheriff posse, which also includes actors Steven Seagal and Peter Lupus, in order to help control  illegal immigration in the Phoenix Valley area.

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