Joe Leitel, Los Angeles
In 1957, Bob Mizer documented the career of Joe Leitel, an up-and-coming model in California's thriving physique photo industry. Leitel was captured by a range of local photographers, including Russ Warner, Spartan, Lyle, Ralph Kelly, Vulcan, Pat Milo, and Apollo International, among others, in order to provide the public with multiple interpretations of his image. Despite only being 19 years old and weighing 180 lbs, Leitel had already developed a muscular build, thanks to intermittent barbell training since he was 13. Six months prior to Mizer's documentation, Leitel had recommitted to bodybuilding with the goal of competing in a Mr. U.S.A. contest. Leitel's girlfriend, Carol, initially opposed his dedication to bodybuilding, but later embraced it and began to train herself. Leitel was a student of Joe Weider, adhering to Weider's principles of "cheating exercises," which he believed had helped him achieve rapid gains. Leitel worked out three times a week and enjoyed various outdoor sports, including motorcycle riding, but exercised caution to maintain his physique. The documentation of Leitel's bodybuilding journey, through photography and personal anecdotes, contributes to the history of weightlifting and bodybuilding in 1950s California. Leitel's last photo session with Mizer was in the 1980s.