World’s strongest man

I queried Mapes as to what such an individual could do to entertain show patrons. He replied that we could figure out a number of spectacular “lifts” that no one else could duplicate. I wondered to myself whether or not dinner show patrons would be interested in watching a herculean strong man sweat as they were dining on the Mapes fine cuisine.

Returning to Reno, the next task was to figure out the best way to present Anderson to a nightclub audience. It was decided that well-known comic Dave Barry would act as emcee and string the whole production together. In addition to Anderson and Barry, the show would feature the chorus line-The Mapes Skylettes, dancer Sonny Howe, singer Joe Kirchen and the orchestra of Eddie Fitzpatrick.

At a meeting in Mapes office, I asked him (Mapes) what he thought the maximum weight was that Anderson could lift.


Mapes replied, “Somewhere around nine hundred pounds”. I mentioned to Mapes that I knew a bag of one thousand silver dollars weighed sixty pounds and that possibly we could get enough bags of the coins to total nine hundred pounds. It would represent a $15,000 “lift” that we could offer to the person who could match Anderson’s lifting. Mapes was intrigued by the idea and we subsequently had Tripp Plastics assemble two large plastic boxes, one on each end of a long bar. This instrument was placed in the lobby of the hotel during the daytime hours with a sign attached touting the “Mapes $15,000 Challenge”.

For the twice-a-night show it would take four men to muscle the silvery barbell up to the Sky Room. At each performance, we would make sure that we had a couple of muscular gentlemen as “plants” in the audience, who would come on stage and attempt to lift a 300-lb. standard barbell in order to qualify to attempt the heavier lift. Needless to say, none of them was ever successful.

Towards the end of Anderson’s two-week engagement, Mapes called me in and said he had good news for me. When I asked what that would be, he replied, “The Anderson Show has been so popular, I’ve decided to book him for another two weeks.” This did not come as very exciting news to me because I had sweated almost as much as Anderson to fill his thirty shows in the initial two weeks.

During this conversation, Cosette happened to be in the office with us and when Mapes asked me what we could do to increase interest in Anderson’s continuing performance, I suggested that the host of the most popular show on television was Ed Sullivan. As he (Sullivan) had been a sports writer prior to his TV career, perhaps we could get Anderson a live spot on his New York show. At this juncture, Cosette spoke up and said that he was leaving for New York the next day. He had a good friend who was an assistant director on the Ed Sullivan Show and he would see what he could do to promote such an event.

Because we could not expect to get a full house at that early hour, I suggested to Mapes that we invite the first 150 members of the Prospectors’ Club and their ladies to be Mapes’ guests for the occasion. Mapes was a little taken aback by such a thought, but he concurred when I said we could charge the audience for drinks but give them a free dinner.