Bill Pearl, a Golden Era bodybuilder who reached incredible heights as an Pro, has died at the age of 91. The saddening news was first made public on September 14, 2022, by his wife, Judy Pearl, on her Facebook account, where she revealed that Parkinson’s disease may have played a role in his death.
Growing up in Washington and Oregon, Bill Pearl made his first appearance at physique contests in Southern California. He was crowned Mr. Oceanside in 1952 in Oceanside, California, after serving in the Navy. Following that, he won a slew of titles in the state before fighting global talent in AAU and NABBA.
Pearl competed mainly from the 1950s to the 1970s. His balanced proportions and full chest were some of his most well-known attributes. He won the Mr. Universe title on four occasions (1953, 1961,1967,1971) and was named the “World’s Best-Built Man of the Century” in 1974. In the 1980s, Bill served as a mentor, trainer, and training partner to the late 1982 Mr. Olympia Chris Dickerson.
In addition to a number of bodybuilding titles, Pearl was awarded the prestigious Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 for his lasting impact on the sport of bodybuilding. In his later years, he focused most of his efforts on working out, coaching, and authoring published works.
Back in April, Pearl was hospitalized after an accident left him trapped under a Craftsman lawn mower. As a result of the harrowing accident, doctors told Bill that he had a compression fracture of his T-10 vertebrate, which prompted emergency surgery that lasted over six hours.
According to the recent statement made by his wife, he struggled to deal with a bacterial infection after ‘intense’ antibiotic therapy. However, she believes he was ultimately defeated by Parkinson’s disease.
You can find her full statement below.
Bill Pearl Peacefully Dies After Battle with Parkinson’s Disease
In a post made to Facebook on Wednesday, September 14, 2022, Bill’s wife Judy, shared the saddening news of his death, which occurred at 4:00 a.m. this morning. He was 91 years old.
“TO ALL OUR FAITHFUL FACEBOOK FRIENDS:
As you all know, Bill has overcome a lot of things that would have taken down a lesser man in this past year.
just as he was getting back in the gym after his accident, he developed a bacterial infection (Pseudomonas) which he apparently picked up while in the hospital. after intense antibiotic therapy, he overcame that.
I believe the Parkinsons finally defeated him.
He passed peacefully at home at 4:00 A.M this morning.
All day yesterday he was fretting about his facebook page,and had me post a couple of things he had prepared.
He loved to share stories of other peoples triumphs and accomplishments.
he had written a lot while his page was down last year which he asked me to continue to post.
He so much appreciated your prayers and messages of encouragement after his accident. He loved reading your comments and arguments. It kept him occupied when he was unable to do much physically. Thank you all. I know we will all miss him.
Judy Pearl” wrote Judy Pearl via Facebook.
TO ALL OUR FAITHFUL FACEBOOK FRIENDS:As you all know, Bill has overcome a lot of things that would have taken down a…
Bodybuilding Community Mourns the Death of Bill Pearl
“Pls help me pay last respect to 💔
William Arnold Pearl was an American retired professional bodybuilder and athlete. During the 1950s and 60s, he won many titles and awards, including winning the Mr. Universe contest five times, and was named “World’s Best-Built Man of the Century.” He later became an expert trainer and author on bodybuilding.Born: October 31, 1930 to
September 14, 2022Please join me in paying respect to BILL PEARL.
What a amazing life and profound effect he had on our sport REST IN POWER ✊🏾” wrote Wheeler.
“🙏🏼 The legend Bill Pearl #RIP 💔
🔹He was the first legend I got to train with when I was 12 years old
🔹My dad drove me down to Oregon to train with him in his barn
#legend” wrote Mike O’Hearn.
Known for his thoughtfulness and generosity, Pearl inspired the generation that included Arnold, Oliva, and Zane. The story of his life is just one example of how bodybuilding and weight training can improve your life. The key to success according to him is to maintain a journal and log of your training and nutrition.
BILL PEARL … A LIFE WELL SPENT William Arnold Pearl was born in Prineville on October 31, 1930. While he was…
Bill Pearl’s Competition History
- 1952 – Mr. San Diego, 3rd place
- 1952 – Mr. Oceanside
- 1953 – Mr. Southern California
- 1953 – Mr. California
- 1953 – A.A.U., Mr. America
- 1953 – N.A.B.B.A., Mr. Universe Amateur
- 1956 – Mr. U.S.A., Professional
- 1956 – N.A.B.B.A., Mr. Universe, Professional, Tall Man’s Class
- 1961 – N.A.B.B.A., Mr. Universe, Professional
- 1967 – N.A.B.B.A., Mr. Universe, Professional
- 1971 – N.A.B.B.A., Mr. Universe, Professional
- 1974 – W.B.B.A., World’s Best-Built Man of the Century
- 1978 – Entered into W.B.B.A., Hall of Fame
- 1978 – Elected the I.F.B.B. National Chairman of the Professional Physique Judges Committee
- 1988 – Entered into Pioneers of Fitness Hall of Fame
- 1992 – Entered into Gold’s Gym Hall of Fame
- 1994 – Guest of Honor of the Association of Oldetime Barbell & Strongmen 12th Annual Reunion
- 1994 – Entered into The Joe Weider Hall of Fame
- 1995 – A.A.U. Lifetime Achievement Award
- 1995 – Oscar Heidenstam Foundation Hall of Fame
- 1996 – American Powerlifters Federation Hall of Fame
- 199 -7 International Chiropractors Association Sports & Fitness Man of the Year
- 1999 – I.F.B.B. Hall of Fame Inductee
- 2000 – Spirit of Muscle Beach Award
- 2001 – World Gym Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2001 – Society of Weight-Training Injury Specialists Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2002 – Canadian Fitness Award for 60+ Years of Inspiration to the Industry
- 2002 – National Fitness Trade Journal Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2003 – Iron Man magazine Peary & Mabel Radar Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2004 – Arnold Schwarzenegger Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2006 – PDI Night of Champions Lifetime Achievement Award
Bill Pearl will be remembered for years to come given his lasting contributions to the sport of bodybuilding. He is survived by his lovely wife, Judy Pearl.