Three years ago, when I received a copy of Jack LaLanne's book, "Live Young Forever," I noticed the foreword was written by a man named Robert Kennedy. This was not the former attorney general, brother of President John F. Kennedy and presidential candidate, mind you. This Robert Kennedy, a Canadian and native of Great Britain, was the publisher of what would be LaLanne's final book. He also was one of the leading publishers of books and magazines in the fitness industry.
Sadly, Robert Kennedy passed away last Thursday, succumbing to cancer at the age of 73. He died at his home in Caledon Hills, Ontario, north of Toronto, surrounded by his wife, Tosca Reno, herself a best-selling author of fitness books, and his four daughters. Kennedy's only son, Braden, died in March 2011 at the age of 23.
Elaine LaLanne, Jack's widow, said in an email that Kennedy spoke at Jack's memorial last year. Kennedy ended up knowing more about Jack than Jack knew about himself, Elaine said.
"It's so sad his son passed away last year and now him," Elaine wrote. "He was a wonderful man. A true pioneer and icon in the fitness business. My heart goes out to his wife, Tosca, and family."
In 1972, Kennedy began to sell courses on nutrition, bodybuilding and fitness by mail. In 1974, he started his first magazine, MuscleMag International, with an initial print run of 110,000 copies. The magazine is still published today as part of the RKP/Robert Kennedy Publishing company, which also produces Oxygen, American Curves and Clean Eating. Kennedy, who wrote the New York Times best-seller "Hardcore Bodybuilding," as well as more than 55 other books, continued to maintain regular hours both at the office and the gym in his 70s. He still reviewed every page of each publication in the chain, the company said in a statement.
Silvie Bordeaux, Kennedy's publicist, attended his funeral on Tuesday in Ontario. Mourners also gathered on Monday during visitation.
"The funeral parlor was filled with so many people who came to pay their respects," Bordeaux wrote in an email. "The line went out the door and across the street! He made a difference in so many lives, and we are all grieving his loss."
Arnold Schwarzenegger, a longtime friend, paid Kennedy a surprise visit on Easter Sunday, just weeks before his passing. Besides their association in fitness and bodybuilding, the two share Austrian roots. Kennedy was the son of an Austrian father and an English mother.
"Bob was a great friend and a true fitness icon," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "He spread the gospel of health around the globe, and his impact can't be measured. I will miss Bob, but there is no question that his legacy of a fitter and healthier world will live on."