STEVE REEVES d2000. American actor and bodybuilder who at his peak during the late 1950s to 1960s was the highest paid actor in Europe. When at high school he developed an interest in bodybuilding, long before its boom. By the age of 17 he had an extraordinary physique. After his military service, he invested time in promoting an acting career. In 1954 he had a small role in his first major motion picture, the musical Athena. In 1957, Reeves went to Italy to play the lead character in "Hercules", a relatively low-budget epic based loosely on the tales of Jason & The Argonauts. The film was a major box-office success, grossing $5m in the United States alone in 1959 and its commercial success led to a 1959 sequel "Hercules Unchained". From 1959 through to 1964, Reeves went on to appear in a string of sword and sandal type movies shot on relatively small budgets. He turned down the role that finally went to Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars (1964), because he could not believe that "Italians could make a Western". He also claimed to have turned down the James Bond role in Dr No (1962). He once mentioned in an interview that he was offered only $100,000 to play Secret Agent 007, whereas he was earning $250,000 per film in Italy and as such was tied with Sophia Loren as the highest paid actor in Europe at the time. During the filming of The Last Days of Pompeii (1959), he dislocated his shoulder when his chariot slammed into a tree ; when swimming in a subsequent underwater escape scene, he then re-injured his shoulder. This injury would then be aggravated by his stunt work in successive films, ultimately leading to his retirement from filmmaking and weightlifting. In later life he enjoyed living on his ranch and promoted natural body-building supplements. He died aged 74 from Lymphoma complications in 2000.
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