Dr. Anthony Ellis joins Henry Stead in his search for the world famous Victorian strongman Eugen Sandow. They visit his London town house house in Holland Park, his final resting place in Putney Vale cemetery, and along the way they speak to David Waller the author of ‘The Perfect Man, The Muscular Life and Times of Eugen Sandow’ (Victorian Secrets, 2011).

The music is taken from a waltz by Johan Strauss II called ‘Donauweibchen’ and was composed in 1887. When Sandow toured the North of England as the headline act of a variety show he did so with a sleight-of-hand artiste, who doubled as compere, and a Hungarian Band, who accompanied his miraculous feats of strength with songs such as the waltz featured in this video. Thank you to Lorin Maazel and the Vienna Philharmonic for this performance of the song. The full track and album may be purchased here.

 

4 Comments

  1. Peter Berry
    June 4, 2013

    Interesting, but also previously well documented theories about Sandow’s birth name and place of birth, his cause of death, and the reasons his wife Blanche disassociated herself from him at the time of his death. My great great grandfather was Warwick Brookes 1808-1882, the artist mentioned in David Waller’s book, and Eugen Sandow was the son-in-law of my great grandfather’s cousin, Warwick Brookes, 1843-1929, the well known Manchester photographer of 350 Oxford Road. He and his son, also Warwick, 1875-1935 were in partnership with Sandow, running his fitness centre businesses, amongst other activities connected with him, after he married Blanche the photographer’s daughter. Your short clip doesn’t mention that Sandow’s current memorial headstone, and the blue plaque on 161 Holland Park Avenue, were both placed by Chris Davies, also a relative, from one of Sandow’s daughters. He has also done huge amounts of research into Sandow’s life.
    As for me, I am in contact with the grand daughter of Warwick Brookes Jnr above, who has provided me with much information about that side of our family over the last couple of years. Her mother, Claire Brookes, spent much of her childhood with the Sandow children and Blanche. Although she can’t confirm any theories one way or the other, she insists that the name Sandow became a ‘dirty word’ within the family, and her mother would not discuss him. It is believed within the family that much of Sandow’s provenance, such as his real name, and place of birth, were figments of his imagination, just as details he gave on his marriage certificate to Blanche, (a copy of which I have, and can be seen on my website), were also untrue. It is believed that Blanche met Sandow when he visited a Salford music hall, and one way or another, and in which order I don’t know, the rest of the family became involved, starting with promotional photographs by the photographer, who already had huge, country wide theatrical connections. When Sandow died, Blanche moved back to Manchester. I hold many documents from the time, including agreements and title deeds to the business activities of Warwick Brookes Jnr, given to me by the grand daughter. Interestingly, and backing up her own theory, there is very little amongst it that relates to his activity with Sandow. There are many theories floating around, including those in David Waller’s biography, which relate to homosexuality, sexually transmitted diseases and all manner of other reasons for his death, and his fall from favour with Blanche. The absolute truth will probably never be known, but at least the information I hold comes directly from a close member of his family.

    Reply
    • admin
      June 4, 2013

      Thank you, Peter, for taking the time to write such a fantastic and detailed response to the video. You’re absolutely right that in it we bring no new material to light. I found your site a month or two ago and the marriage certificate was a real eye-opener for me, after what I had read. It is hard to know what to believe! The respectable Prussian jeweller named ‘Otto Sandow’ as his father (declared on your certificate) does strike me as particularly fishy.

      This project is especially interested in how Sandow (and perhaps also Warwick Brookes) used ancient Greek and Roman culture in their professions and art forms. I wonder, do you have any material that might shed some light on this? Did Brookes, for example, take many photographs of “classical” scenes or poses? All best — Henry.

      Reply
      • Peter Berry
        June 5, 2013

        Henry, Unfortunately I don’t think I can help with the further information you require. I own images taken by Brookes, the Oxford road photographer, but they are just portraits which were the ‘bread and butter’ of his daily work. I also own images of his son Warwick, but they all relate to his ocean yacht racing activities. As I said, all mention of Sandow seems to have been removed from the documents I have inherited.
        You will probably have found this already, but there are many of Brookes’ photographes archived and available to buy copies, see: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/s/res/1?_q=Warwick%20Brookes but these mainly relate to Brookes’ commercial photography role, with images of football teams and the interiors of new buildings such as the Manchester Midland Hotel. However, there are also numerous images of Sandow having plaster casts taken of his body. These provided further information for me in that it shows that some of these images, taken for Warwick Brookes Jnr, Trading as the Sandow Grip Dumbell Co. attribute copyright ownership to Eric Hugo Waldenstrom within that company. Waldenstrom is the father of Beatrice, Brookes Jnr’s wife, who he met and had two children with, (one being Claire), while she was still married to a Russian diplomat. This information shows me that Waldenstrom was also involved in the Sandow business empire. Sorry if much of this is irrelevant. Good luck with the project.

        Reply
        • admin
          June 5, 2013

          Peter, Thank you for your interest and your insights. Please keep an eye out for all things classical for us! All best — Henry

          Reply

Leave a Reply