Born November 9, 1935
in Los Angeles, California
Although his competitive resume lacks the accomplishments of some of his Hall of Fame peers, Don Howorth has earned his place among their ranks with his legendary V taper, which encompassed broad shoulders – arguably the widest of the top competitors in the 1960s – and lats sweeping to a narrow waist. That look transcended his contest placings and, in any discussion on shoulder width, he takes on iconic status.
Howorth was the only child of Don and Francis Howorth. His participation in gymnastics at Mark Keppel High School laid a sturdy foundation for young Don, and soon he added weight training to his regimen.
Initially a member of Vic Tanny's gym, Howorth switched to American Health Studios in 1956, where he met Steve Reeves, whose should-to-waist tamper was the benchmark of the 1950s. After AHS folded in 1958, Howorth returned to Tanny's; however, two injured spinal discs resulting from a job-related mishap – he was employed by Western Electric – would slow down his training. It woudl take six months for him to become mobile and five years to fully recover.
Howorth later joined Gene Mozee's Pasadena gym, where he packed on 60 pounds in four years, and met fellow trainee Pat Casey – who became the first man to bench press 600 pounds. Partially due to Casey's influence, when Howorth joined Vince Gironda's gym circa 1962, he insisted on including bench presses in his training, despite Gironda's dismissal of the then-controversial exercise.
Howorth's first bodybuildilng win was the Mr. Fiesta in 1962. He also won the AAU Mr. Los Angeles, Mr. California and Mr. West Coast before moving on to the more prestigious IFBB, entering the 1964 Mr. America and finishing third in the tall class. In 1966, he moved up one spot, taking second in the Mr. America tall class (one place behind the overall champ Chet Yorton), then climbed the final rung of the ladder in '67, winning the tall and overall titles. (That same year, he won the IFBB Jr. Mr. America as well).
In such close proximity to Los Angeles, Howorth felt the pull of Hollywood. In 1968, he appeared in an episode of TV's Wild Wild West, playing a muscular blacksmith. The following year, Howorth stopped training and continued to work in the film industry. It would be 11 years before he hit the weights again; at the age of 43, he appeared as a guest poser weighting 183 pounds at the inaugural 1979 Robby Robinson Classic. That was the last time he would step on a bodybuilding stage.
Howorth married in 1960, and has one daughter, Karen, born in 1964. He has three grandchildren.
Now 72, he's still training three days per week.
Hall of Fame Inductees for 2008