Ed Fury, the bodybuilder and star of ‘sword and sandals’ epics, has died aged 94, per the Hollywood Reporter.
He was born Rupert Edmund Holovchik on Long Island, New York in 1928. Orphaned as a child, he moved to Los Angeles in the late 1940s and competed in numerous bodybuilding competitions. He also worked as a ‘physique model’ and stage actor. Among his early, uncredited bit parts was as part of an Olympic relay team sailing across the Atlantic in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953.)
In the musical number, ‘Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love?‘, Ed jumps into a swimming pool while Dorothy (Jane Russell) stands at the edge. As the song ends, the team toast a drenched Dorothy, with Ed at her far right. He went on to play bit parts in The Eddie Cantor Story, Demetrius and the Gladiators, The Country Girl, and Female on the Beach.
In 1956, director Joshua Logan – with whom Ed had worked on Broadway – gave him a non-speaking part in Bus Stop. He can be seen wearing a yellow shirt, sitting at a table in the Blue Dragon nightclub, when Marilyn (as singer Cherie) passes by with Vera (Eileen Heckart.)
Cherie then begins a faltering rendition of ‘That Old Black Magic‘. As the men in the crowd either jeer or ignore her, cowboy Bo (Don Murray) jumps onto Ed’s table and demands they pay attention. After a moment’s silence, Cherie resumes her performance.
Ed worked with Logan again in South Pacific (1958), and in the same year, played his first billed role in The Wild Women of Wongo. His career peaked in the early 1960s when he made a trilogy of ‘sword and sandals’ films in Italy, starring as Ursus, a warrior of ancient Rome.
Back in Hollywood, Ed took guest spots on TV shows including Gilligan’s Island, Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, The Doris Day Show, The Odd Couple, Columbo, Barnaby Jones and Fantasy Island. In later years, he lived quietly in Los Angeles.
‘I believe in a healthy mind and a healthy body,’ he told Skip E. Lowe in 1988. ‘You see, this is what you have, you better take care of it, or it won’t take care of you … You’re dead a long time, you better have fun now and enjoy yourself, because that’s what we’re here for.’
In 2001, he was honoured alongside fellow bodybuilders Gordon Mitchell and Mickey Hargitay in a Labour Day ceremony on Venice Beach. They were reunited again for a ‘Swords and Sandals’ film festival organised by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in 2003.
Ed Fury died at his home in Woodland Hills on February 24th, 2023. He is survived by his wife Shelly, to whom he was married for almost seventy years.