Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Conversation with Actor, Arnold training partner and 70's Bodybuilding immortal, Roger Callard. By Dr.Michael Dusa

A Conversation with Actor, Arnold training partner and 70's Bodybuilding immortal, Roger Callard. By Dr.Michael Dusa

MD: Hey Roger, thanks for your time to talk. I know you are very busy.

RC: It's my honor to do so, Michael.

MD: So, please tell me how you started out.

RC: It's funny. In high school, I was an actor. You could say I was an actor who ultimately wanted to become a bodybuilder, and not the other way around as it is with so many others. When I was only 5 years old, my father had bought some of those old steel cables and hooked them to a door. Well, I had asthma and had to do something, so at this young age I started lifting and using the cables at home. When I was 11, I was running AAU track and I was very fast. It was also at this time that I'd go to a friend's home and look through his bodybuilding magazines-I'd see Poole, Sipes, Draper...all amazing to me. At age 12 I was like a maniac-I could one hand clean and jerk 165 pounds.

MD: So, by the time high school rolled around, did you continue with sports?

RC: Oh yes. I ran track and played football in high school. I honestly thought I'd eventually make the U.S. Olympic team as a track athlete, as I had been one of the fastest sprinters in the country in the 40 yard dash. I was also a very good student. I actually, at the time, held one of the highest SAT scores for the entire country.
Refereeing an arm-wrestling match between
Rachel McLish and Mike Mentzer
MD: But the Olympics did not happen?

RC: I received a full ride to Michigan State University, plus a $400 monthly scholarship. Let me tell you, these were amazing days at MSU. We had Herb Washington, who became the designated runner for the Oakland A's. We had Steve Garvey, Billy Joe Dupree, incredible athletes who were the best in the world. We had Joe Delamielleure, who is now in the NFL Hall of Fame. Brad Van Pelt-he was the greatest athlete in the world. He was better than Bo Jackson, let me tell you. He was drafted in baseball, football and basketball. Even our coaches. In all, our coaches at MSU won a total of 12 Superbowls. We had Bubba Smith from 1968-72, and he starred in football and track.

MD: You were training at this time?

RC: Well, I was purely an athlete, so I worked out for speed. I was even a welterweight in golden gloves boxing. My training at this time was not geared for bodybuilding. It wasn't until I was approached by Kent Kuehn and Don Ross in the gym while at MSU did I really consider bodybuilding as something to pursue. They saw my potential and encouraged me. Bob Birdsong and Pete Grymkowski were two others I knew before I ever went to California. I did end up competing and won the Mr. Michigan title at 22 years of age, and I also won the Jr. division of that title prior to that. I also won the Jr. Midwest championships. My family was in the furniture making business so I had the skills to strategically set up mirrors in my dorm room so I could focus on back development.

MD: You are known for exceptional deltoid, calf and back development.

RC: Thanks. Yes, go to any show, even today, and backs tell the tale. So many do not have good back development-this is largely because they can't see their back when working it. You know, in 1973, Arnold injured his knee badly when a platform he was standing on collapsed. He was doing an exhibition in Hungary. Everyone thought he was all done. Well, I had a bad back. I started doing inversion training while working the back-hanging upside down. I did this with Zane. It saved my back from further injury. I'd study Gray's Anatomy and learn how everything-all the muscles- tied in back there. This is why I had such great cuts in my back, and training like this also made me two inches taller. Arnold and I started training together because we were both dealing with these injurious obstacles.

MD: Backtracking a you think you were gifted or inclined to athletic success for any particular reason?

RC: Well, my brother, my senior by seven years, was also a track guy-very fast. He'd run, and I mean really motor, to the bus stop a quarter mile away every morning. He'd mess with mom-he'd wait till the last minute to run to the stop, all the while mom thinking he'd never make it! He always would. The girls loved him.
My father-a very strong and well-built man. We had a Case tractor, a very sturdy and heavy duty piece of equipment-something like Frankenstein would own (laughs), and my father would remove gigantic lug nuts off the wheels with a 12" wrench...NO leverage used...just his chest and the tiny wrench and he'd take 'em off. He was also one of the best shots in the Navy.
1977 IFBB Mr. America overall posedown with Danny Padilla
and Pete Grymkowski

MD: You mentioned you were an actor and entertainer before bodybuilding.

RC: Yes. In Vaudville, there was an act known as "The Callard Boys," and my father was a part of this. Milton Berle himself knew my father. In my family, we all had to sing. I mean, I could sing, but I didn't want anybody to SEE me while I was singing. So, I'd hide behind the stove, and I'd sing!

MD: You had a big family?

RC: My mom and dad, myself, my sisters Roberta and Rosie and my older brother, Robert.

MD: So you then moved out to California in 1972.

RC: Yes. I had won the Mr. Michigan so I felt it was time.

MD: You trained with the greats. You were one of the greats.

RC: Many things people are not aware of. Not only that, but this industry is chock full of misinformation now. Here's one for you. Arnold and I were among the first guys to do cardio. I got Arnold to do it-but he'd only do it at night. He didn't want any of the other guys to know what we were doing. We'd run a particular route we'd mapped out at night, and the next day, our veins would be popping! We'd go to a party, and we'd let the guys see us eat some cake. Of course, they wouldn't see us go outside and throw this cake up on the lawn. And then (laughs) we'd come back in and eat some more! This would be right before a show, and it would simply blow the other guy's minds. It added to the mystique.

MD: Arnold liked training with you?

RC: You've got to understand, Arnold liked the fact that I was an actor and I knew the business. Arnold copied a lot of what I was doing and did. I was with him when he went to a PR firm. It was the ICPR firm, run by Mark Landia. We went in, and there was Mark, well dressed and professional. He looked at Arnold who asked him, "Well, what is it that you do?" Mark said they could position him based on his goals. "In one year, I want everyone in America to know my name." Mark told him to do that, it would cost him two thousand dollars per month.
Posedown for the overalls at the 1975 IFBB Mr. USA
with Danny Padilla and Denny Gable
MD: So Arnold went with this?

RC: You know, Milton Berle said Arnold would never win an Oscar. He didn't care. He's charming, has that gap in his teeth, he could get away with saying almost anything. He was created for the press junkets. His lack of thespian qualities was overlooked. He was a good looking guy. You can best say that he was a publicity stunt that worked. I remember when he came back from that celebrity tennis match where he met Maria...I asked if he knew she was related to JFK...he said he didn't know that!
Fun moment at Gold's Venice with Robby Robinson,
Denny Gable and Arnold Schwarzenegger
MD: Wow. I'd imagine that lack of knowledge could have caused a bit of a social faux pas.

RC: One story about Maria...and I am sorry because I am jumping around a bit with the timeline here. It was either the '78 or '79 Mr. International contest, I got to the venue, and it turns out that I had no room reserved for me. I pounded on Arnold's hotel room door, and 18 year old Maria answers the door. She saw I was a bit flummoxed, and actually started making fun of me. "Arnold, please get this rich little brat out of my face..." I wasn't pleased. Here is a little kid, shacking with Arnold, lying to her parents telling them she was elsewhere. Arnold let me stay in his suite with him. He was a friend to me in the bodybuilding world, but, if we were contestants on 'Survivor,' he'd be doing the dishes.

MD: Things generally have not worked out with the matrimony there for the Oak, I'd opine.

RC: Arnold was wary of me. Hollywood liked my looks, but I will say that hanging around with Arnold hurt me because I looked like his flunky, his sidekick. I was diminished by his celebrity. It's a hard category to break out of in Hollywood. John McTiernan, the successful director, he liked me. Arnold and I bumped into him at a party and when John expressed interest in me, Arnold blurted out that I wouldn't be interested in any film work, just like that. He sabotaged me. You know, Mike, being successful doesn't necessarily mean you are smart. It may just mean that you are ruthless. I've never been impressed with celebrity, but some are. You come into Gold's , no matter who you are, well, its the great equalizer now, isn't it? Bruce Jenner, Lyle Alzado, Oldfield, all just regular guys in the gym.

MD: Actually, I kinda like jumping around from topic to topic like this. I'm not a trained writer, but those types usually write boring crap anyway. Anything you can tell me about the football scene in Pumping Iron?

RC: I was the one who told Ken Waller to hide Big Mike Katz's Tee shirt in the film. Ken was not worried about Mike, just like Arnold didn't sweat Lou Ferrigno for one second. Just like Tom Platz would never win the Olympia. It just would never happen. Platz-he'd have to have 25" Rich Piana-like arms to match his legs just to look right. Louie? He'd have to weigh 400 pounds to beat Arnold. He was too tall. I'll say this, the greatest body ever I thought was possessed by Samir Bannout. If he would have stayed in his 1983 shape, Lee Haney would NEVER have beaten him. Samir just tried to get too big.

"The greatest body ever I thought
was possessed by Samir Bannout"

MD: But, as seen in Pumping Iron, it was you and Robby Robinson...

RC: Robby and I were two of the most underrated bodybuilders ever in the world of physique. In 1976, Jim Lorimer and Arnold put on the Mr. Olympia, which was held in tandem with the Mr. International. In the International, Robby beat me, barely. I beat everyone else, but to this day, Joe Weider never released the records of the scores. That night, Arnold said we had gotten bigger audience response than the guys in the Olympia had the same evening.

The 1977 Mr. America was another questionable affair. Danny Padilla was fat for this show. Danny never really reached his best shape until the early 80's. I was ripped. Franco, the promoter of this show, wanted a short guy to win for obvious reasons. The powers that were met in chambers and they actually changed the rules of the judging that day, catering to the chances of a short man win. The Wong brothers, who ran the Magazine 'Muscle Digest,' wrote an article about this show called "The Travesty of Justice." I really should have won this show, and, today, Danny thinks I am mad at him for this, but I am not at all. Please tell him I am not, Mike. Like I said, he came into his own in 1981, he was great then. (Laughs) Burt Reynolds was asked who won the show, as he was there in the audience, and he responded, "The carpenter." This was around the time of the filming of "Stay Hungry," and he was dating Sally Field.

MD: Doesn't sound good, my friend. Of course, I see very little good in bodybuilding today, unless you just do it for yourself. Many immerse themselves into its murky world...but...don't really know why...

1975 IFBB Mr. USA
RC: Michael, bodybuilding has lost its utility, if it even ever had any. Bodybuilding is rapidly dying on the vine. Its subject to an ever narrowing field of vision. With any endeavor or enterprise, you'd think you'd want a wide demographic of those participating. Instead, its quickly going back to a miniscule subculture that it once quietly occupied. I know Arnold has recently spoken out about the big guts, but, he made a big mistake going into politics. You know, Hollywood has one standard, but politics is altogether different. This set him back. His quest for power has never been satiated, and his quest for the governorship was his doiwnfall.

MD: I agree. His words may no longer be as potent as they once were. Still,You have had a great acting career.

RC: I have had great times in the industry. I've been on Barnaby Jones, Streets of San Francisco, Wonder Woman, Charlie's Angels, Hunter with Fred Dryer, and many more. I must say that Buddy Ebsen was a great man and I did learn a lot from him. Buddy would listen to the whole script-it'd be on audio. He'd have an overall awareness of the script...not just his lines. He was always relaxed, and I emulated him. I also started doing plays at the Malibu Theater, as I was fortunate to be multi-talented. I could sing, act, direct, produce, write. I did one-man plays. I could adapt to whatever I needed to get done.

MD: I wanted to do a bit of name-association with you. I'll say a name, you give me one word.

RC: OK. Go ahead.

MD: Joe Weider.

RC: Father.

MD: Arnold.

RC: Joker.

MD: Padilla:

RC: Giant Killer.

MD: Robby:

RC: Discipline.

MD: Zane.

RC: The Doctor.

MD: Are you still active in acting?

RC: Oh yes. It's been great for my self awareness, confidence, thinking on my feet, all these things improve. It teaches you to have an arc of a character, and to organize your thought process. In every story, there is a beginning, the body, then the climax and resolution. This parallels every other discipline you may wish to pursue. More recently, I played the helicopter pilot for Steve Carrel's character in the hit movie Foxcatcher.

My father was into construction so I have an affinity for building as well as the development of green energy. I was involved in designing the first single pore system for houses to combat erosion, but someone stole my design. I was an innovator of this system, however. I have also been involved in installing solar panels into domestic energy systems.

MD: You were married for many years to your wife, Mimi.

RC: My wife. In death, and in life, she was the most graceful person I have ever known. She never complained, ever. About a week prior to her death, Hospice was asking a slew of uncomfortable questions, and she could only answer that she was worried about me. I'd lay in bed with her. She'd say, "I'm dying." I would tell her I knew this and ask her if she was holding on for me. She answered yes, and I told her it was alright to die and that I had to let her go. I gave her permission to die. We were married 32 years.In 2010 I got Mimi admitted to a cancer program, but the chemo killed her. It did buy her another 2.5 years, and I rebuilt a farmhouse here in Michigan where we lived. I always missed Michigan, and am glad I am back here.

MD: Would you agree, Roger, that, at least, in the end, Life is All That Matters?

RC: Not just in the end. Always. I miss my wife.

MD: You mentioned acting and the solar work. What else are you up to? You are a true renaissance man, after all.

RC: (Laughs) You know, I am working with my old friend, Pete Grymkowski, on a new company we started, and we actually own the rights of use of the "Mr. America" title. So we have big things planned for that direction. I still train hard and regularly, and stay at about 195 pounds-my competition weight. I go to the gym every day, hit the batting cage with 80-90 mph fastballs, I hunt, shoot, take my vitamins. You know, its funny. Amazing, really. All the years of training, and everything is good physically. I always trained smart.

MD: Could you speak a bit about your training?

RC: It's all in the technique. You must position yourself so that there is tension on the muscle at the beginning of the movement, and, there must be NO momentum. A smooth beginning in the movement, and you must be mindful in isolating the body part you are intending to stimulate. That is the "smooth beginning." The "smooth travel" I also like to call "honey combing." If your body is immersed in honey, then you will move very deliberately. You must then contract the muscle at the top of the movement. You know, Platz never figured this out. Its how he tore his biceps tendon, he did not use a smooth beginning. You use a "smooth negative" in letting the weight down. There must be a pause at the beginning, a pause at the end.. If you are super strict and don't get hurt, then you will develop to your potential.

You know Mike, I can look across the room in a gym, and I can see if a person is in the proper groove in their efforts to improve. Generally, what I witness is half-assed training. WAY too much weight, poor range of motion. Cluelessness. In essence, very few people train, but there are many who just simply move weight around. When you are doing things correctly, you place the muscle at a physiological disadvantage, from the weakest to the strongest position. You train for power slowly, because you are building up in kinetic energy. Zane was well ahead of his time. He espoused many years ago that the only time you'd grow was during sleep. He'd take power naps. Today, there is over training galore. Folks don't allow themselves to heal.
Some training shots
MD: Any good Joe Weider stories?

RC: Many. I have no hard feelings towards Joe.

MD: You know Roger, I have interviewed many guys who would know, and every single one has spoke only in endearing tones of Joe. Of course, you know, as I have no filter, if someone tells me otherwise and they say go with it, I'd write it.

RC: Look, I needed $300 for my Screen Actors Guild card (SAG), and Joe gave me the money. He said (Roger now does a GREAT imitation of Joe Weider's voice), "That's a great career move, Ro-JAY." Joe called me "Ro-Jay," as though I were French. It was funny. I did pay him back although he didn't want the money.

I traveled a lot with Joe, all around the midwest, Nebraska. You know, Joe could not speak in front of people, and that's primarily why Ben would do the talking much of the time. One time Joe and I shared a suite in a hotel, and he all of a sudden said, "Ro-Jay, look at this..." Joe had taken a shade off the lamp to get some light in the room, removed his shirt and he started hitting multiple most muscular poses (both laugh)! I told him to go to sleep. Of course, this was after me getting him to smoke some grass!

Joe was a funny, lovable character. Ben Weider was the guy pulling the strings in back of the curtain, so to speak. But Joe was funny, and he really did love bodybuilding. It was his whole life. Joe liked to tell me of his model for business, more like a motto, actually:" What is MY money doing in YOUR pocket?(both laugh)." Remember, Joe would really fly with things. He wouldn't even sometimes have a product, but have you send him money...THEN he'd manufacture a product!

In fairness, Joe could at times be cheap. One time, Robby and I were in an old, abandoned building for a photo shoot. It was simply freezing. We thought, in the least, it was a rather dubious situation, and we told Joe the clothes would not come off until he gave us our return tickets to California. He did, of course.
With Waller, Weider and Columbu at the 1976 Olympia
MD: Priceless stories my friend. You are blessed as well as a blessing to us all as part of bodybuilding history and lore. Kind of guy I'd like to have dinner with.

RC: You make your way out here to Michigan, Michael, and we will have that dinner.

MD: Deal. Roger, thanks so much for giving me three hours of your Friday night to talk. For me, this is better than any other time spent that I can think of.

RC: It was fun. Let's talk again soon. I do want to say that I may be a bit out of commission, but I am not out of circulation, and I still have the fire.

Thank you Dr. Michael Dusa and Roger Callard for this fantastic interview
Best regards from
©,2015. Bodybuilding Mauritius. Any reprinting in any type of media is prohibited. Interview article published with permission from Dr. Michael Dusa (North Haven, Connecticut). 
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