Steve returned to the U.S. after his win at the Mr. Universe contest in England. John Grimek picked Steve up at the airport in New York and drove him back to York, Pennsylvania. He was greeted by members of the gym on his return to York, and stayed few days before heading back to the West Coast.
COUNTRY ROADS TAKE HIM HOME
One of the gym members overheard Steve telling John that he was looking for a car to drive back to California. The member approached Steve and told him that he would sell him his car, a beautiful 1948 V-8 Ford convertible, for which he was asking $500. Steve had the money, but not enough to pay for the car and his trip home. Another member offered Steve a loan until he could pay him back. After the financial transactions were completed, Steve was ready to head West. He figured he had just enough money to make his trip back to Oakland, if he was very careful with his spending.
Early the following morning, he placed his suitcase and his first place "Sandow" trophy into the car's trunk and headed for California. He planned to visit his aunt and uncle on their cattle ranch in Montana.
After traveling for only a couple of hours, the car began overheating. He had to stop at a gas station and put water in the radiator. This scene repeated itself every hundred miles or so for the remainder of the trip. (Steve later found that the car had a cracked block, which he had to have replaced.)
Steve finally arrived at his uncle's ranch and was given a warm welcome from his uncle and all of the Boyce family (his mother's side of the family). For the next few days he helped his uncle with the ranch chores and did some riding and cattle branding. It was truly a time to reflect on everything that was going on, and a time to "recharge" himself. Finally, it was time to say, "Good-bye" to his family and the wonderful Montana ranch land, and continue his trip home.
Upon leaving the ranch, Steve checked his wallet and counted the money remaining. He calculated that he had just enough money to fill the gas tank for the final leg of his trip. The hardy meals he'd enjoyed at the ranch would have to last him until he arrived home.
Steve drove without stopping for the next 24 hours. Driving with the convertible top down, any time he got a little sleepy he would kind of stand up with his foot on the gas pedal and let the fresh air blow though his hair to get refreshed.
After many hours, he finally arrived in the town of Auburn, just outside of Sacramento, California. Since it was still dark outside, he decided to pull off the road for a couple of hours and get a little rest before completing the final three-hour trip to Oakland. As the day dawned, he awoke and headed into Sacramento for that last tank of gas and another radiator full of water.
It was early morning when he finally drove into the driveway of his mother and stepfather's home in Oakland. His mother was very happy to see him and quickly fixed the champ a hearty, home cooked meal.
A NEW BEGINNING
After a couple of weeks in Oakland, Steve packed his bags again and headed to Southern California to pursue his dream of becoming a movie star. He drove down to Santa Monica and moved back into the "muscle house" where he and George Eiferman had previously boarded.
George, in fact, had moved back to the house couple of weeks prior to Steve's arrival. Their landlady, Joy, always kept a couple of rooms in her boarding house available for the two Mr. America's, and now for the new Mr. Universe!
Once settled in, Steve sought out a good agent to represent him in Hollywood. For the next year Steve did more magazine modeling and was cast for several small parts on television shows.
In November of 1951, while Steve was working out at Bert Goodrich's gym in Hollywood, he heard that television personality Ralph Edwards was looking for someone to do some acting on the new "Ralph Edwards Show" on television.
He secured an interview and was told that someone would contact him regarding the final decision.
FROM POSTMAN TO PROP MAN
Since Steve did not know if he would get the part on the Edwards show, he applied for a part-time job delivering mail for the Post Office. Within a few days, he received word that he was accepted as a postal carrier during the holiday season. Shortly after accepting the postal job, Steve received a call from the Edwards show, offering him the position on the show!
Two weeks, later on December 15, 1951, Steve signed a one-year contract with the Ralph Edwards Show. The show would not begin airing until January, so
QUIET ON THE (TV) SET!
On Monday January 14, 1952 at 12:30 P.M., the half-hour Ralph Edwards Show debuted on NBC's Channel 4 in Los Angeles. The show aired three days a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The program's format was something between a talk show and a variety show. Besides Ralph Edwards and Steve Reeves, the other two regulars on the show were Carole Richards, a talented vocalist, backed up by a group called the "Varieteers," and Sara Berner, a comedienne better known as Mabel Slapsaddle of Jack Benny Show fame. She brought quite few laughs to the program.
An article about Steve appeared in This World magazine on March 2, 1952.
It stated: "The idea of becoming an actor struck him after he had begun to run out of awards. Strangers on streetcars, in restaurants and on the street asked him if he was in films. NBC claims that he still blushes when girls whistle at him, and what man wouldn't?
Recently on the Edwards show (KRON-TV Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:30 to 1:00pm), one of the ladies in the audience asked Edwards if she could feel Reeves muscular 18- inch arms. When the gentleman obliged, she giggled and said: 'If I didn't have heart trouble already, he could give it to me!'
In matters of the heart, the vibrations are apparently all going one way because Reeves is a bachelor.
During a guest spot on the Jimmy Durante Show recently, Jimmy wanted Reeves to Peel off his shirt and ripple his famous muscles, but the Colgate folks ( the sponsor) turned thumbs down. It would be 'vulgar' they said.
At the rate things are going, Reeves is going to do for the deltoids and the pectorals what Gypsy Rose Lee did for the bumps and grinds. Come to think of it, maybe what television needs is muscles. It's got everything else."
HAPPY APRIL FOOL'S DAY STEVE!
Ralph was always pulling tricks on Steve during the broadcast. Prior to the show on one particular occasion, April 1, Steve sat in the make-up room next to Ralph while both men were having their make-up applied.
Ralph looked at the make-up artist and said, "I'm not feeling so good, I'm not feeling so good. Oh-I don't know if I can do the show or not." He then looked at Steve and said, "If I get feeling really bad, can you take over for me?" Steve said,
As the camera moved in on Steve, he looked at Carole and asked, "Carole, will you give us a song? She replied, " I don't feel like singing today and I don't have my music with me." Steve quickly turned to Joe and said, "Joe, how about telling us a few jokes?" Joe replied, "I'm all out of jokes."
At this point, Steve was running low on ideas to keep the show going and felt on the spot. All of a sudden, Ralph Edwards stepped out on stage and started laughing, telling Steve it was an April Fool's joke. Steve, with his great sense of humor, started laughing and the audience went wild.
The Edwards show was a great experience for Steve and he was well on his way in show business.
Check out our next issue for more news about his career moves and the deal that changed his life forever, without him realizing it at the time. Also we'll explore the launch of his first two movies- one of them that required him to move a huge tree using only his shoulder. Timm-berrl
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