It is still exciting as an adult to meet someone whom you saw on television as a child. Such was the case with me June 11 when I had the opportunity to meet Lou Ferrigno, who played the Incredible Hulk on TV when I was young.
I met Ferrigno at the grand opening of the new Brownells gun warehouse in Grinnell.
Ferrigno was born in 1951. As a child he lost about 80 percent of his hearing because of infections. He came to the public’s notice when he won the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Mr. America and Mr. Universe competitions in 1973 and claimed the Mr. Universe title again in 1974.
He became famous when he was featured in the 1977 documentary film, “Pumping Iron.” This film focused on the 100 days leading up to the 1975 IFBB Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions and the rivalry and training of the event between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ferrigno. The film became a box office hit and made Schwarzenegger and Ferrigno household names.
If you are like me, you remember Ferrigno from the mid-’70s to early-’80s television show, “The Incredible Hulk.” This program first ran on CBS as a television movie in 1977 and became a series on CBS from 1978 to 1982. It returned to NBC in 1988 in the form of three made-for-TV movies that ran until 1990.
Ferrigno played the Incredible Hulk, a 7-foot-tall green monster who comes to life when his alter ego, Dr. David Banner, played by Bill Bixby, was angered. When Banner got angry, he would turn into the Hulk and get himself and others out of dangerous situations. The Hulk possessed superhuman strength but was very primitive and unpredictable.
Ferrigno also had cameo appearances in the 2003 movie, “Hulk,” and the 2008 film, “The Incredible Hulk.” He provided the sounds of the Hulk for these motion pictures. He can also be seen in the series “King of Queens,” where he played himself for six seasons as the neighbor of the series’ focus, Doug and Carrie Heffernan.
I first heard about Ferrigno’s appearance in Grinnell on WHO radio. I had to go to Vinton during this time but found out that Grinnell was not all that far off of Iowa Highway 30 during my trip back to Perry. I took a pleasant half-hour drive through Gilman and the countryside to Grinnell.
I must point out that both Gilman and Grinnell are very well kept and attractive communities. It is a shame that our road systems now bypass our communities. We are in such a hurry now and never get to appreciate the surroundings around us.
Brownells is located along U.S. Interstate 80 about half an hour east of Newton. I arrived at a very large complex, with a lot of cars and people directing traffic. After I parked, I got into line to meet Ferrigno and had to wait for about an hour.
A man from the store came out every 15 minutes to announce that Lou could not sign any Incredible Hulk items. This was because of an agreement that he had with Comicon. He could sign anything else.
After my wait, I got to meet with Ferrigno and talk to him for a moment. He posed for a picture with me, taken by a staff member, and signed a paper and a cap for me.
He sounded just like he does on TV and is still very tall and muscular. I could not notice any hearing impairment. He was very polite with all of the fans and did body building poses with several of them and even pretended to arm wrestle with one patron in a photograph.
I left the complex and headed west in my old car west the interstate. I am in constant fear of my vinyl roof flying off. Luckily, I had enough duct tape on the seam to keep the wind from ripping it off. I had no trouble until I hit Altoona.
In Altoona I could that there was a semi driving slowly along the right shoulder with its lights flashing. As I got closer, I could see two plastic storage totes sitting in my lane, which I did not want to hit. I tried to get over into another lane, but no one would let me over and even seemed to go faster around me because they saw why I wanted to move over.
I had to slow down and get over to the shoulder, with a pick-up pulling a trailer about three inches off of my bumper. They honked at me when I pulled over in front of them. Maybe they thought that I should hit the totes.
Fortunately, I made it safely back to Perry. Highway etiquette is ever decreasing on the interstate, and half of the people give you the finger if you are not doing at least 15 miles over the speed limit.
I hope to meet other famous people in the future. It really does not better humanity, but it is fun for me. I notice that most people are nostalgic about things from their childhood, and I am no different.
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