In magnificence of body, Anthony "Tony" Sansone unquestionably ranks with the masterpieces of ancient sculpture. Artistic physique studies of Tony Sansone have, for many years, elicited admiring comments and enthusiastic applause from an audience embracing every country in the world. Although Sansone was never officially awarded a "Mr. Bodybuilding" title, he was considered by the most prominent sculptors, artists, and photographers of his time to be the most perfect example of a living work of art.
Tony possessed the rare natural ability to interpret mood or action through the art of posing. Sansone's muscles responded rhythmically and fluidly to every movement. Even while motionless, his ever-bronzed body appeared animated with strength and vitality. He boasted a well- proportioned body rather than a mountain of muscle, making for a flawless combination of power and graceful carriage.
Joseph Nicolosi, the eminent sculptor, said of Sansone, "He was the incarnation of the choicest of Athenian youth." The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City once exhibited a Frederick MacMonnies statue of Sansone. Another statue of Tony personified the standard of physical perfection while on display in the Hall of Man exhibit at the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History.
In response to the ever-increasing demand for his remarkable physique studies, Tony published two unique books, Modern Classics (1932) and Rhythm (1935). Every artist, art lover, and physical culturist wanted to add these books to their collection. Unfortunately, they are no longer in print.
Without doubt, a new era in posing artistry had begun. The antiquated Roman sandals, flowery tights and animal skins worn by previous physique posers became a thing of the past.
Tony Sansone was born in New York City on September 19, 1905. As a youngster he had to overcome sickness and physical frailty. Fortunately, at the age of 13, he became interested in athletics. Later he was inspired by a series of photos of physique star Tommy Farber in Physical Culture magazine. At 17 he won a Charles Atlas contest for physical progress and development. Given his obsession for physical perfection, Sansone soon became internationally renowned for his fabulous body. It was then his likeness that began to complement the pages of Physical Culture and other publications throughout the world.
Tony had no secret training routines. Progressive dumbbell and barbell routines were his main exercise method, supplemented by hand-balancing, gymnastics, sprinting, swimming, and handball. Tony never specialized in strength feats, but in his prime he was one of the best in the world on the parallel bars.
A professional career as an actor and dancer almost became a reality when Tony was offered a Hollywood contract, but he preferred marriage and domesticity instead. Over the years he successfully owned and operated three gymnasiums at different locations. His studios were efficiently equipped and immaculately kept. Celebrities from the stage, screen, radio and television were among his patrons. Tony impressed his clientele with his expertise and his ever- perfect bronze body. Tony had such a profound knowledge of training equipment, he foresaw contemporary bodybuilding needs and invented a leverage calf machine and lat apparatus.
When he retired from the gym business, Sansone went into volunteer work, helping underprivileged children to become better health-minded citizens. Perhaps his greatest enjoyment was spending his recreational time on the beach at Coney Island. He and his buddies swam in the Atlantic, walked and jogged on the beach, and had many delightful conversations. His spirit still infuses the sand there, bringing to mind better times and happier days.
On January 13, 1987, another great chapter of physical culture concluded with the passing of Anthony Sansone, the uncrowned Mr. America, and the undisputed dean of the posers.
IRON GAME/PHYSICAL CULTURE HISTORY