Lisa Lyon, a pioneer of competitive women's bodybuilding and a Playboy model, has died. She was 70 years old. According to a friend of Lyon, who spoke to TMZ, Lyon passed away on Friday at her home in the San Fernando Valley, where she was receiving hospice care. The source said that the cause of death was stomach cancer.
Although primarily recognized as a bodybuilder, she is also believed to have served as an inspiration for Frank Miller in the creation of the Marvel Comics character Elektra. In 2005, Jennifer Garner played the lead role in the action film 'Elektra.'
Death of an Icon
Lyon helped popularize women's bodybuilding after she won the inaugural International Federation of Bodybuilders Woman's World Pro Bodybuilding Championship in 1980. That same year, she also posed for Playboy magazine, and her career continued to flourish as she appeared in numerous health and fitness publications.
However, Lyon's influence extended beyond the realm of bodybuilding and comic books. In 1980, she authored a book on bodybuilding titled 'Lisa Lyon's Body Magic.'
Additionally, she forged a friendship with the renowned bodybuilder and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger honored Lyon in a statement to TMZ, raving, "She is the best. I love her."
In 2000, she was inducted into the International Fitness and Bodybuilding Hall of Fame. According to GreatestPhysiques.Com, she was described as "a one-woman media-relations activist on behalf of the sport, elevating bodybuilding to the level of fine art."
Moreover, Lyon's career extended into the world of modeling, where she collaborated with renowned photographers such as Robert Mapplethorpe, known for his portraits of artist Andy Warhol, as well as Helmut Newton and Joel-Peter Witkin.
A Life Worth Remembering
Lyon is perhaps most prominently remembered for her association with Robert Mapplethorpe's 1983 book titled 'Lady, Lisa Lyon.' This collaboration is often considered a significant highlight of her career.
"It was as if she sought to bring herself to the edge that partitions the sexes without altogether crossing it,' critic Arthur C. Danto is quoted as saying in the book, 'Robert Mapplethorpe."
"Female body-building has come a long way since Lisa Lyon, and, what with the use of steroids, there are women whose female attributes seem relics of a prior existence," Danto continued.
"Lyon, by contrast, is startlingly feminine in Mapplethorpe's photographs, and it is difficult for us to see her masculinity. Mapplethorpe photographed her in certain costumes that were perhaps meant to put her masculine identity into relief—lacy lingerie, bridal veil, and so on—but these seem to have the reverse effect of that intended."
According to several bodybuilding sources, Lyon was born in 1953, which would make her around 70 years old as of the current date. Unfortunately, the exact birthdate is not provided.
Lyon was born and raised in Los Angeles and gained recognition following her work with Playboy.
In the 1980s, she ventured into the film industry, appearing in three films. In 1983, she featured in "Thee Crowns of the Sailor," and a year later, she appeared in "Getting Physical." Her final film appearance was in 1986 when she appeared in "Vamp."