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Big-screen Hercules Mark Forest dies at 89

Italian-American's real name was Lou Degni

(ANSA) - ROME, JAN 10 - Mark Forest, the iconic Italian-American actor who played Hercules and Maciste in Hollywood and Italian sword and sandal epics in the 1950s and 60s, has died aged 89, his family said Monday.
    Born in Brooklyn in 1933, Forest's real name was Lou Degni.
    He started bodybuilding at 13 and a talent scout sent him to Hollywood to audition as Tarzan a few years later.
    He didn't get the part but became of Mae West's team in her Las Vegas show.
    He took part in body-building contests and won the "Mr. Muscle Beach" title in California.
    After the global success of The Labors of Hercule (1958), he became the second American actor to be hired by Italian producers.
    He appeared in three films of the 'peplum' genre while his 1960 pic Goliath and the Dragon was his biggest US hit.
    He continued to grace peplums in the following years, appearing as legendary strongman Maciste in several films.
    In the end he left cinema to become an opera singer, and ended his working days as a voice coach. (ANSA).
   

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