Family & Companions
One of the most recognizable faces - and physiques - to emerge from the sport of professional bodybuilding in the 1970s, Lou Ferrigno went on to become an actor and beloved pop-culture icon for his personification of "The Incredible Hulk" (CBS, 1978-1982). Seen opposite future megastar-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger in the documentary "Pumping Iron" (1977), the record-setting muscleman caught the attention of the producers of "The Incredible Hulk," who were in desperate need of a suitably gigantic performer to play the green-skinned behemoth. The success of the series soon led to work in feature films playing similarly rippled superheroes, such as "Hercules" (1983) and "Sinbad of the Seven Seas" (1989). Further iterations of The Hulk in made-for-TV movies and animated series, as well as non-Hulk work on television shows like "The King of Queens" (CBS, 1998-2007) kept him in the public eye. Even 30 years after the premiere of the series that made him famous, cameos in films like "The Incredible Hulk" (2008) and "I Love You, Man" (2009) proved the fans still loved the perpetually bulked actor, with or without the green makeup.
Born Louis Jude Ferrigno on Nov. 9, 1952, "Lou" was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. During his childhood, he developed a severe ear infection that would forever change his life. The significant hearing loss forced him to wear a bulky hearing aid with a battery strapped across his chest. This contraption never failed to illicit cruel taunts of fellow children, so young "Louie" coped the best way he knew how: by immersing himself in the worlds of fantasy literature, motion pictures, and most particularly, comic books. He fell in love with The Incredible Hulk the moment he laid eyes on the superhero, seeing in the tortured, misunderstood character a kindred spirit. Little did he know that one day he would actually play the larger-than-life character - along with his other adolescent hero, Hercules. Feeling like an outcast while living in an isolated world of silence, the teenager chose to focus his energies on weightlifting. Drawing on his continued inspiration from the Hulk, Ferrigno took weight training very seriously. At just 21, he became the youngest person to hold the title of Mr. Universe, and won again the following year. Ferrigno also played in the Canadian Football League, and eventually moved to California in 1976 to pursue bodybuilding as a career.
Ferrigno began to draw widespread attention after appearing in the popular bodybuilding documentary, "Pumping Iron" (1977), which also featured an up-and-coming Arnold Schwarzenegger. Captured on film talking about his desire to be the Hulk, he caught the attention of television producer Kenneth Johnson, who was looking to fill the role of the temperamental behemoth in his new action-adventure television series, "The Incredible Hulk" (CBS, 1978-1982). The show already had star Bill Bixby signed to play the Hulk's alter ego, David (Bruce) Banner. When the first choice to play the Hulk, actor Ted Cassidy (famous for his roles in James Bond films), was deemed unconvincing, a more muscular actor was sought. Ferrigno easily fit the bill, and, at 6 5," he beat out the other contender, Schwarzenegger, who was three inches shorter. Despite his childhood interest in the character, he was initially reluctant to undergo the full-body green makeup job, but eventually acquiesced.
After the show was cancelled following its fifth season, Ferrigno continued acting, appearing on the big screen in 1983's "Hercules." Back on television that same year, he landed a regular role of a paramedic on the short-lived medical program, "Trauma Center" (ABC, 1983-84) before guesting on shows such as "Fall Guy" (ABC, 1981-86) in 1983 and "Matt Houston" ( ABC, 1982-85) in 1984, as well as "Night Court" (NBC, 1984-1992) in 1985 and the Steven Spielberg-produced, "Amazing Stories" (NBC, 1985-87), where he appeared in a cameo as the Hulk. He appeared again on the big screen as the legendary nautical adventurer in "Sinbad of the Seven Seas" (1989). CBS, realizing there was still a nostalgic fan base for the old "Hulk" TV series, brought Ferrigno back to play the Marvel character in three television movies, culminating in "The Death of the Incredible Hulk" (1990). After a string of bit parts in TV throughout the early 1990s, he also did voiceover work in the animated version of "The Incredible Hulk" (UPN, 1996-98).
After a string of bit parts in genre series such as "Conan" (syndicated, 1997) and "Black Scorpion" (SyFy, 2000-01). Ferrigno appeared in Universal's big screen version of "Hulk" (2003), in which the actor made his memorable cameo alongside the character's creator, Stan Lee of Marvel Comics. In 2005, he landed a recurring part on the hit sitcom, "The King of Queens" (CBS, 1998-2007) playing himself opposite series star Kevin James. Ferrigno made yet another cameo - this time on the cult cop spoof, "Reno, 911!" (Comedy Central, 2003-09) playing Deputy Cletus Senior. Proving life imitated art, Ferrigno made news again when he became deputized by the real Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, as part of his ongoing interest in law enforcement and work with county youth programs. In 2008, he found himself the focus of a massive Marvel publicity blitz when he was cast in a cameo role of a bodyguard in the studio's latest version of their beloved hero, "The Incredible Hulk" (2008), this time starring Ed Norton as David Banner, versus Eric Bana in 2003's disappointing "Hulk." Ferrigno also provided the growling voice of the angry giant for the 2008 film.
Enjoying another rare opportunity to flex his comedic muscles, Ferrigno played a fictionalized version of himself putting up with a hilariously confrontational Jason Segel in the "bromantic" comedy "I Love You, Man" (2009). He also found himself in the news for unfortunate reasons, following the death of his friend Michael Jackson on June 25, 2009, after the singer died of a Propofol drug overdose during rehearsals for his comeback concert "This is It." Ferrigno had been training Jackson in the months leading up to his death to get the very frail singer in condition for his rigorous schedule. The following year, he played an intimidating body guard on an episode of the spy comedy series "Chuck" (NBC, 2007-12), and in the fall of 2011 was announced as one of the contestants on the upcoming season of Donald Trump's celebrity version of "The Apprentice" (NBC, 2004- ).
Cast (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Became the youngest person to hold the title of Mr. Universe at age 21
Attempt to beat Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Mr. Olympia competition was the subject of the documentary "Pumping Iron"
Moved to California to pursue bodybuilding as a career
Competed in the first World's Strongest Man
Breakthrough role, Dr. Bruce Banner's green alter-ego in the CBS series, "The Hulk"
Landed a regular role of a paramedic on the short-lived medical program, "Trauma Center"
Played the title role in "Hercules"
Reprised role for the sequel, "The Adventures of Hercules"
Reprised role for the CBS TV-movie, "The Incredible Hulk Returns"
Once again reprised role for the CBS TV-movie, "The Trial of the Incredible Hulk"
Played the title role in the big screen, "Sinbad of the Seven Seas"
Returned to role for a final time in the CBS TV-movie,"The Death of the Incredible Hulk"
Lent his voice to the animated series, "The Incredible Hulk" (UPN)
Played himself in a recurring role on the CBS series, "The King of Queens"
Made a cameo as a security guard in Ang Lee's "Hulk"
Had a cameo on Comedy Central's cult cop spoof, "Reno, 911!"
Returned for a cameo in "The Incredible Hulk"