This November 2013 post was minimally edited on Aug. 2, 2016, for a series on Olympians who went on to be actors. This series coincides with the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.
Whether he was an affable lug or a dangerous mobster, the face of the dark-haired 6 foot character actor is one film fans recognized in the 1930s and 1940s.
Character actor Nat Pendleton acted in uncredited and supporting roles from 1926 to 1947.
But before Pendleton performed as Sandow the Great in the biographical film “The Great Ziegfeld” (1936), he was flexing his muscles for different reasons.
Pendleton’s fame originally came in the form of an Olympic silver medal in the super heavyweight freestyle wrestling division at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium. That year, the United States won 41 gold, 27 silver and 27 bronze medals — winning the most medals by any of the 29 nations attending. Born in Davenport, Iowa, Pendleton was Iowa’s first Olympic medal winner, according to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.