Eugen Sandow 1867-1925

The son-in-law of my great grandfather's cousin.

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Eugen Sandow, <Click>, a pioneer of body building and a great show man of the time. <Click>. Friend of King George V 1865-1936.<Click>. Married to Blanche Brookes 1872-1959 Best man at their wedding at Manchester Cathedral on 8th. August 1894, was Florenz Ziegfeld Jnr. 1867-1932 <Click>.

Sandow's last home, 161 Holland Park Avenue, London. From 1906 until his death, he lived here with Blanche and his two daughters.


Ed Note: This chronological list of the significant
events in the life of Eugen Sandow
was compiled by David Webster with the
assistance of Biagio Filizola of Italy. We are greatly indebted to them for their persistence in trying to pin down the crucial dates in Sandow’s life. B. T. White of England also cooperated in this study.

1867 2nd April: Sandow born in Konnigsberg,
1877 Visited Italy with father and was
inspired by statues in the galleries there.
1882 Joined a travelling circus as an acrobat.
1884 Circus became bankrupt; Sandow
stranded in Brussels.
1885 Began studying anatomy and physical
culture. (I believe Sandow started gymnastics,
etc. earlier and that he put the commencing
age of 18 to enhance the image of earlier
weaknesses and the efficiency of his own
training methods. I base this view on his development
and facial appearance in his earliest
physique poses.)
1886 Met Louis Durlacher (Attila) and
became his assistant.
1887 Visited Professor Edmund Desbonnet’s
gym in Lille, France.
1887 Adopted the stage name Sandow.
1889 Sandow in Italy. Attila in London.
1886-1889 During this period various well
related incidents took place in Belgium and
Holland. His visits to Attila in London, then
to France and Italy were in these years. In
Italy he beat all opposing wrestlers, including
those in a match in which he had three opponents.
One of these was Bartoletti, a name
which has cropped up several times in my
research over the years. Winning this match
as well as the others made Sandow very
famous and he was well written up in the
press. Emperor Frederick William was in San
Remo at this time and wanted to see this subject
of his who was causing such a stir. Hence
the Royal Command performance. Date likely
to be 1889.
1889 September/October: Met Aubrey Hunt,
artist. Posed for him as a Gladiator then
departed for Britain. Hunt’s painting of
Sandow was, much later, purchased by Joe
Weider, USA. It hangs in Weider’s building
in Woodland Hills.
1889 28th October: Arrived in London at 6
AM. He said that he jumped Sampson’s stage
at the Westminster Aquarium that same night.
My research casts doubt on this. He beat
1889 2nd November: Beat Samson at same
theatre. The wager was never paid to Sandow.
Then commenced a three month engagement
at the Alhambra, London. He then had a short
holiday in Germany where he booked Karl
Westphal who took the stage name Goliath.
1890 February-May: A three month tour
of the provinces followed immediately. Then
came a tour of the largest towns such as Birmingham
and at Henglers Circus in Liverpool.
Return to London. Appeared at Holbom
Music Hall with Goliath (Westphal).
1890 November: Court case against Landlord
1890 10th December: While appearing at
Holborn Music Hall he had a match with Hercules
McCann. He also appeared at the Palace
Theatre after his first provincal tour.
1891 28th January: Sandow’s record-breaking
spree to beat McCann’s lifts. Appeared
at London Pavilion with Loris.
1891 February: F. W. Pomeroy, noted sculptor,
made the original Sandow statuette.
1891 Spring: Appearances at Birmingham
and with Henglers Circus in Liverpool.
Moved into Curative Physical Culture with
seances for medics. Opened his first institute
of Physical Culture.
1892 Continued success. Finished the year
at Waverly Market Carnival in Edinburgh.
1892 December: Designed exercises for the
British Army. The earliest records I can find
of the introduction of Sandow’s exercises for
the British Army is in this month when on the
12th of December Surgeon-Major Deane of
the medical staff of the Royal Military Academy
delivered an important lecture with Sandow’s
assistance. Colonel Fox of the P.T.
School, Aldershot, was another great supporter.
Lived at 2a Hyde Park Mansions, London.
Made patent application.
1893 April: Appeared at the Palace Theatre.
1893 June: Sandow opened at the Casino,
New York He arrived in America only two
weeks earlier. He later went on to the Tremont
Theatre, Boston (where he was examined by
Dr. Dudley Allen Sargent), and then went to
Chicago for the World’s Fair (World’s
Columbian Exposition), appearing at the Trocadero
for Florenz Ziegfeld. A lot of his time
was spent at this venue, also known as the
Academy of Music. Made one of the first
movies for the inventor Thomas Edison.
Filmed by W. K. L. Dickson.
1894 Publication in Britain of Sandow’s System
of Physical Training.
1894 May: Wrestled with a lion in San Francisco.
1894 -1896 Extensive tours of Canada and
1895 October 7th: “Sandow’s Farewell”
Opening at Chicago Auditorium for the season
1895-96. Then immediately after the
Auditorium he went directly to the Academy
(“Emphatically Sandow’s Farewell”).
1896 Sandow returned to Britain. Resided
for a time in Manchester. Also at 32 St. James
St., London. According to an original letter in
my possession he charged £2-2/- for a physical
culture consultation at this time. This was
several weeks’ wages for an ordinary working
man. He developed a new act, then
returned to America for a second time to fulfill
a few outstanding engagements.
1897 Publication of Strength and How to
Obtain it.
1897 Composed a musical march “Marche
des Athletes” and a waltz “Sandownia.”
1897 British appearances but now devoting
much more time to commercial projects
including: publishing, Sandow’s Schools of
Physical Culture, endorsements of products,
consulting, postal courses, etc.
1898 February: Jumped Saxons’ stage at
Grand Music Hall, Sheffield.
1898 While in America collapsed with nervous
exhaustion, caused by his very heavy
schedule over the years. Returned to Britain
and at Manchester married Blanche Brooks,(1872-1959)*
daughter of Warwick Brooks (1843-1929)*, a photographer
who captured many of Sandow’s poses.

1898 Started publication work on his magazine.
1899 Started a campaign for social reform.
1900 Sandow’s Schools of Physical Culture.
Sandow had five schools in London and others
in Manchester and Liverpool. The main
one was at 32 St. James St., Piccadilly. Here
it cost Ten Guineas for three months’ tuition,
two lessons weekly. It was managed by his
brother-in-law, Warwick Brookes (1875-1935)*.
There was a more down-market
gym at 115a Ebury St., at £3- 10/- ditto.
Others at 10, 11 & 12 Walbrook E.C., 185
Tottenham Court Rd., W.C. and even at the
Crystal Palace. All except his St. James headquarters
were closed by 1915. Sandow Ltd.,
operated from Victoria Embankment London,
W.C. and Sandow’s own Combined
Developer Co. was at 17-18 Basinghall St.
London E.C.
1901 Performed at the Tivoli, London
1901 1st August: Court case with Saxons.
Sandow won.
1901 14th September: Albert Hall, London.
Finals of great physique contest. Plaster cast
made on suggestion of Prof. Lankester. Exhibited
at the National History Museum in London.
1902 15th June: Embarked at Marseilles.
1902 1lth July: Arrived at Freemantle, Australia.
Appeared at the Theatre Royal, Perth.
Made visits to fire brigades, police, etc. Growing
social conscience.
1902 11rh August: Sailed from Freemantle
to Adelaide.
1902 15th August: Arrived Adelaide.
Appeared at the Tivoli Theatre privately for
1902 September onwards: Bendigo, Victoria,
Ballarat, Melbourne, Newcastle, Sydney,
Brisbane. Returned to Sydney and then
to New Zealand.
1902 17th November: Arrived Auckland, then
went on to New Plymouth, Stratford, Napier,
Christchurch, Dunedin etc. Visited India,
South Africa and the Straits Settlements.
1901-1902 Royal Scottish Commission set
up in 1901, and he was on tours of inspection
1906 Resided in Manchester. Applied for
British naturalization, Accepted. Moved to
61 Holland Park Ave. Notting Hill, W., his
London address until his death.
1907 Insured his life for £25,000. The
Sandow Co., previously run at a loss, now
made a profit of £7,300.
1908 Company profit increased to around
1908 Contributed £1,500 sponsorship for
Olympic Games in London.
1909 Gave £l,000 to Lord Esher’s social
1910 Corset division added to me Sandow
1911 Having previously been personal physical
training instructor to King Edward VII,
Sandow was now appointed Professor of Scientific
Physical Culture to King George V.
Dr. M. E. A. Wallis, consultant to Sandow’s
Curative Institute was struck off the medical
register. Factory for Sandow’s Health and
Strength Cocoa opened at 5-21 New Kent
Road, London SE. (closed by 1916).
1912 Litigation regarding use of “Health &
Strength” title for Sandow’s Cocoa.
1913 Work commenced building Sandow’s
cocoa factory at Hayes, Middlesex.
1914 Litigation regarding Sandow’s trademark
by an actress used in a corset advertisement.
1914 Sandow’s Company lost money. A. W.
Gamage, Chairman, resigned.
1914-1918 The World War put an end to
most entertainment and leisure activities in
Europe. It was particularly difficult for
Sandow, having been a Prussian and still
speaking with a German accent. The fact that
he was a naturalized citizen did not help
much. There were rumors that he had been
locked in the Tower, and when these were
proved false another rumor went around that
he was a spy and a homosexual. The war,
wiping out a generation of young men, took
away many in their teens and twenties, his
main market for bodybuilding.
1915 Litigation regarding allegations that
Sandow’s cocoa was made in Germany.
1915 Company in financial difficulties.
1916 Compulsory liquidation of Sandow Ltd.,
liabilities £20,438.
1917 Cocoa factory renamed Hayes Cocoa
Co. Ltd.
1919 Compulsory winding up of Cocoa Co.
Sandow ceased appearing in public. I cannot
find any mention of his act being done after
the war.
1919 Publication of his book Life is Movement.
1923 Earle Liederman secured Sandow’s
endorsement of the Liederman System of
1925 14th October: After three weeks illness
and attended by Sir Thomas Horder, Sandow
died in London. Cause of death: aortic
1925 12th December: Auction notice.
1925 31st December: Will/Estate published.
Regarding his daughters’ ages, a book published
in 1915 gives Helen’s age as 8 and Lorraine’s
as 18 months. Therefore birth-dates
would be circa. 1907 and 1913. On the other
hand, a photo of “Baby Sandow” was published
in Sandow’s magazine of 1901. This ties
in better with the pictures of Lorraine at the age
of 15 used in a book published in 1919. She
would have to have been born before 1904 as
the pictures had to be taken some time before
publication. Curiously, by marriage, Helen
became Mrs. Strong.
This list is not by any means exhaustive.

(Some dates may be approximate, e.g. Sandow married Blanche Brookes in 1894 and not 1898, as can be seen on the certificate above. Also, some events may also be fictitious  such as the first two in the list - place of birth, and visit to Italy with father. Sandow made up his past to fit whatever his current circumstances were - such as on the marriage register to Blanche above. He lists his father there as Otto Sandow, Jeweller! Sandow is certainly a stage name, so who was Otto?)* Items marked * are additions by Peter Berry to verify the correct person information.

Florenz Ziegfeld Jnr. extreme left, Eugen Sandow extreme right,
on tour, San Francisco 1893
Sandow's daughters Lorraine and Helen.

I have recently made contact with a distant cousin - the granddaughter of Warwick Brookes MP, (son of the photographer), and Sandow's business partner. We have now met twice. Her mother Claire Brookes, spent much of her childhood in the company of the Sandow children and their mother Blanche. I am told that the name Sandow became a 'dirty word' within the family after his death, and Claire refused to allow his name to be mentioned. I now own many original deeds and documents relating to Brookes' business activities, but very little of them relate to his activity with Sandow, which also points to a possible attempt to erase his existence from memory. Unfortunately, I have not yet ascertained the true reason for this. There is much speculation, but, as yet no firm evidence as to what happened around the time of Sandow's death, to cause Blanche to dis-own his memory and return to Manchester. I do however now know that much of the information Sandow provided about his background, which has often been taken as fact by researchers, is actually fictitious, and concocted by Sandow to suit his own career needs at a particular time.

Further information on Eugen Sandow is now available here: