Bodybuilding Legend Dave Draper Dead at 79 Years Old

Known as "The Blonde Bomber", Draper won the coveted Mr. America and Mr. Universe titles.

Bodybuilder Dave Draper died on the morning of Nov. 30, 2021. Draper’s wife, Laree Draper, confirmed the news in a post made on Facebook that same day. Dave Draper, born in 1942, was a bodybuilder, actor, and author, penning books, columns, and blog posts on his website, According to Laree, Draper died peacefully. She did not disclose a cause of death.

“Hi, friends. As the word is getting out, I wanted to let you know, so there’s no confusion — Dave died early this morning. I was with him and it was calm and peaceful. It, as the doctor told me a little while ago, was a good death.”

The Life and Career of Dave Draper

Born in Secaucus, NJ, Draper, began weight training as a kid. At the age of 21, he won the Mr. New Jersey bodybuilding title and moved to Santa Monica, CA six months after. Draper trained at the now-legendary Gold’s Gym alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, Mike Katz, and Franco Columbu

Draper had a successful career as a competitive bodybuilder. He won the Mr. New Jersey Contest, Mr. America, Mr. Universe, Mr. World, and placed fourth at the 1967 Mr. Olympia competition (won by Sergio Oliva). Here’s a full rundown of Draper’s major competitions:

  • 1962 Mr. New Jersey — 1st
  • 1965 IFBB Mr. America — 1st
  • 1966 IFBB Mr. Universe — 1st
  • 1967 Mr. Olympia — 4th
  • 1970 AAU Mr. World — 3rd
  • 1970 IFBB Mr. World — 1st
  • 1970 NABBA Mr. Universe (Tall) — 3rd


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At six feet tall and around 235 pounds, Draper was a marketable champion for the sport in those years. He was involved in two movies as well as several TV shows in guest-starring roles. His face and body graced the covers of dozens of magazines over the years.

He also contributed his expertise as an author. Aside from numerous columns, he was the author of the book Brother Iron, Sister Steel, which would become his most famous published work. He would write four more books after his first publication. Renowned bodybuilding journalist Peter McGough once referred to Dave Draper as “bodybuilding’s best-ever writer.”

In the later years of his life, Draper would continue to train with weights and write about training and fitness via his online newsletter, “IronOnline.” That newsletter ran from the mid-1990s until 2019. Draper is survived by his wife, Laree. 

BarBend will update this article if and when more information regarding Draper’s death is made available.

Featured Image: @romanticlifters on Instagram