Born: November 9, 1951
Height: 6’5″ – 195 cm
Contest Weight: 285 lbs – 130 kg (in 1975) 316 lbs – 143 kg (in 1992)
Louis Jude “Lou” Ferrigno is an American actor, fitness trainer, fitness consultant and retired professional bodybuilder. As a bodybuilder, Ferrigno won an IFBB Mr. America title and two consecutive IFBB Mr. Universe titles, and appeared in the bodybuilding documentary Pumping Iron. As an actor, he is best known for his title role in the CBS television series The Incredible Hulk and vocally reprising the role in subsequent animated and computer-generated incarnations. He has also appeared in European-produced fantasy-adventures such as Sinbad of the Seven Seas and Hercules, and as himself in the sitcom The King of Queens and the 2009 comedy I Love You, Man.
Lou Ferrigno was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Victoria and Matt Ferrigno, a police lieutenant. He is of Italian descent. Soon after he was born, Ferrigno says he believes he suffered a series of ear infections and lost 75 to 80% of his hearing, though his condition was not diagnosed until he was three years old. Hearing loss caused Ferrigno to be bullied by peers during his childhood: “They used to call me ‘deaf Louie, deaf mute’, because of my hearing and because of the way I sounded”.
Ferrigno started weight training at age 13, citing body builder and Hercules star Steve Reeves as one of his role models. He was also a fan of the Hercules films that starred Reeves. Ferrigno’s other personal heroes as a child were Spider-Man and the Hulk. Ferrigno attended St. Athanasius Grammar School and Brooklyn Technical High School, where he learned metal working.
After graduating from high school in 1969, Ferrigno won his first major titles, IFBB Mr. America and IFBB Mr. Universe, four years later. Early in his career he lived in Columbus and trained with Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 1974, he came in second on his first attempt at the Mr. Olympia competition. He then came third the following year, and his attempt to beat Arnold Schwarzenegger was the subject of the 1975 documentary Pumping Iron. The documentary made Ferrigno famous.
These victories, however, did not provide enough for him to earn a living. His first paying job was as a $10-an-hour sheet metal worker in a Brooklyn factory, where he worked for three years. He did not enjoy the dangerous work, and left after a friend and co-worker accidentally cut off his own hand one day.
Following this, Ferrigno left the competition circuit for many years, a period that included a brief stint as a defensive lineman for the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League. He had never played football, and was cut after two games.
During competition, Ferrigno at 6 ft 5 in (1.95 m) weighed 285 lbs (130 kg) in 1975, and 315 lbs (143 kg) in 1992.
Ferrigno competed in the first annual World’s Strongest Man competition in 1977, where he finished fourth in a field of eight competitors.
In the early 1990s, Ferrigno returned to bodybuilding, competing for the 1992 and 1993 Mr. Olympia titles. Finishing 12th and 10th, respectively, he then turned to the 1994 Masters Olympia, where his attempt to beat Robbie Robinson and Boyer Coe was the subject of the 1996 documentary Stand Tall. After this, he retired from competition.
- 1971: Pro Mr. America – WBBG, Teen 1st
- 1971: Teen Mr. America – AAU, 4th, Most Muscular 5th
- 1972: Pro Mr. America – WBBG, 2nd
- 1972: NABBA Mr. Universe, Tall 2nd
- 1973: IFBB Mr. America, Overall Winner
- 1973: IFBB Mr. Universe, Tall 1st, Overall Winner
- 1974: IFBB Mr. International
- 1974: IFBB Mr. Universe, Tall 1st, Overall Winner
- 1974: Mr. Olympia, Heavyweight 2nd
- 1975: Mr. Olympia, Tall class, 3rd place
- 1992: Mr. Olympia, 12th
- 1993: Mr. Olympia, 10th
- 1994: Masters Mr. Olympia, 2nd
In 1977, Ferrigno was cast as the Hulk in The Incredible Hulk. Ferrigno and Bill Bixby – who played the Hulk’s “normal” alter ego – became friends; Ferrigno has described Bixby as a “mentor” and “father figure” who took him under his wing. Ferrigno also singles out the instances in which Bixby directed Ferrigno in some episodes as particularly memorable. Ferrigno continued playing the Hulk role until 1981—although the last two episodes were not broadcast until May 1982. Later, he and Bixby co-starred in three The Incredible Hulk TV movies.
In November 1978 and again in May 1979 Ferrigno appeared in Battle of the Network Stars.
In 1983, Ferrigno appeared as John Six on the short-lived medical drama Trauma Center.
Ferrigno played himself during intermittent guest appearances on the CBS sitcom, The King of Queens, beginning in 2000 and continuing until the program’s conclusion in 2007. He and his wife Carla were depicted as the main characters’ next-door neighbors. Because of his role as the title character on The Incredible Hulk, he is often the target of Hulk jokes by Doug and his friends.
He made cameo appearances as a security guard in both the 2003 film Hulk and the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk, in which he also voiced the Hulk.
Ferrigno appeared as himself in the 2009 feature film comedy I Love You, Man.
Ferrigno trained Michael Jackson on and off since the early 1990s, and in 2009, he helped Jackson get into shape for a planned series of concerts in London.
Ferrigno took part in a Smosh video, titled “I love Lou Ferrigno”, in which he is tracked down by one of Smosh’s members, Anthony, in Hollywood. The skit ends with Ferrigno knocking Anthony unconscious, in response to Ian’s claim that Anthony stole Ferrigno’s Butterfinger.
Ferrigno has his own line of fitness equipment called Ferrigno Fitness. In January 2009, he provided equipment to The Price Is Right for use as a One Bid prize, and demonstrated the equipment himself.
In 2010, Ferrigno appeared in “My Two Chads”, an episode of Sonny with a Chance, appearing as himself in an episode of the fictional series MacKenzie Falls. He also voices the character Billy the Hero in the animated series Adventure Time.
Ferrigno’s voice was utilized (in composite) for the Hulk in the 2012 film The Avengers and its 2015 sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron.
In 2014, Ferrigno appeared as Zaminhon, the Orion slave trader, in the Star Trek Continues episode Lolani.
In 2016, Ferrigno appeared as a playable Lego version of himself in Lego Marvel’s Avengers.
- 1977: Pumping Iron
- 1983: Hercules
- 1983: The Seven Magnificent Gladiators
- 1985: The Adventures of Hercules
- 1988: Desert Warrior
- 1989: Sinbad of the Seven Seas
- 1989: Cage
- 1989: All’s Fair
- 1989: Liberty & Bash
- 1993: And God Spoke
- 1994: Cage II
- 1996: Stand Tall
- 1998: The Godson
- 2003: The Hulk
- 2008: The Incredible Hulk
- 2009: I Love You, Man
- 2012: The Avengers
- 2014: Mom’s Night Out
- 2015: The Scorpion King: The Lost Throne
- 2015: Avengers Grimm
- 2015: Avengers: Age of Ultron
- 2016: Instant Death
- 2017: Thor: Ragnarok
Due to ear infections suffered soon after birth, Ferrigno lost 75 to 80% of his hearing and has been using hearing aids since the age of five. Ferrigno says his hearing loss helped shape his sense of determination in his youth, saying, “I think that if I wasn’t hard of hearing I wouldn’t be where I am now. Early on, as a youngster it was difficult, but I’m not ashamed to talk about it because many people have misconceptions about hearing loss; like who has hearing loss and what it’s like not to hear, so I do talk about it. I think my hearing loss helped create a determination within me to be all that I can be, and gave me a certain strength of character too. Anytime I do a movie or a TV show, I make them aware of my hearing loss at the beginning, and that makes it much easier for all of us to communicate and get the job done.”
Ferrigno married Susan Groff in 1978, divorcing a year later. On May 3, 1980, he married psychotherapist Carla Green, who then also began serving as his manager; she later became a personal trainer. They have three children, Shanna, born 1981; Louis, Jr., born 1984; and Brent, born 1990.