Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Journalism and Media Studies

First Committee Member

Daniel Stout

Second Committee Member

Gregory Borchard

Third Committee Member

Paul Traudt

Fourth Committee Member

Gary Larson

Fifth Committee Member

Francisco Menendez

Number of Pages



Jack LaLanne hosted the first and longest running fitness program in United States broadcast history from 1951 through 1985. Since LaLanne's rise as a broadcasting celebrity, the health and fitness industry has grown from a small, somewhat-maligned field into a multi-billion dollar per year economy of its own. As LaLanne reached iconic status through his show, his name became synonymous with good health and nutrition, but the messages of his show went far beyond simple exercises. He used religious, patriotic, and biomedical messages to get his points across. In addition, he was a showman who sang to his audience, used props and even had his dog, Happy, perform tricks.

This qualitative study explores how LaLanne achieved his success. By watching 15 full episodes and dozens of other clips and interviews online, as well as reading LaLanne's books, the patterns listed above emerged. I conducted exhaustive research into relevant academic journals, newspaper articles and magazines. This documentary also features an interview with LaLanne's wife, Elaine, his daughter, Yvonne, and several other interviews with academics, and professionals who have studied him and the field of exercise and health.

Through the academic lens in journalism and media studies, this project meets the requirement of intensive research about an opinion leader who used the medium of television to shift and shape culture. Using the documentary form to present this research is additionally relevant as it allows the researcher to present LaLanne in a more appropriately grounded medium than only writing about him. More than just a biography, the particular method of research employed for this study was prosopography, which, according to scholar Lawrence Stone, is the investigation of the common background characteristics of a group of actors in history by means of a collective study of their lives. The method used in this type of study often begins with a set of circumstances and events and then asks relevant questions about birth, death, marriage, family, where one lived, education, wealth, religion, political background and more. The intent is to tie together a newly considered set of information to discover meaning and insight.


Exercise; LaLanne; Jack; 1914-2011; Medical; Politics; Religion; Television broadcasting – Influence; Television progams


Broadcast and Video Studies | Exercise Science | Film and Media Studies | Mass Communication

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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