Born Helmut Eugene Benjamin Gellert Hauser in Germany, he was also known as Eugene Helmuth Hauser and legally changed his name in 1923. Described as a "youngish man with a flashy smile and a broken accent" (Anon. "Garbo's Gayelord," 1942) and a "handsome man who wears his hair in a permanent wave" (Fishbein 1938: 113), "Dr. Hauser" studied naturopathy and chiropractic medicine but dropped his claim to have an MD following an investigation by the American Medical Association. Hauser said that at the age of sixteen, after all his American doctors failed him, two weeks of lemon juice recommended by a foreign doctor cured him of tuberculosis of the hip.
Hauser's diets sought to cure both physical and psychological ailments, change body weight, and promote longevity. He argued very early that "health is nature, and disease is unnatural" and "no disease can exist in a chemicalized blood stream" (Hauser 1930: 33). Self-cure with foodstuffs, he claimed, especially acidic ones will eliminate "sickness and old age" (Hauser 1930: 38). Hauser's proof of this is the prison and orphanage studies undertaken by Dr. Joseph Goldberger in i9i4, which determined that pellagra was a disease of poor diet rather than an infectious disease. Able to draw on the "real" science of vitamin deficiency diseases by the 1930s, Hauser cloaked his vegetarian diets in the model of the Goldberger study (Hauser 1934: 6-7).
Hauser's diets included "eliminative feeding system," "the mending diet," "the vitality diet," "the transition diet," "the cosmetic diet," and "the zigzag diet." "The cosmetic diet" recommended sulfur-rich foods and an iron-rich cocktail of spinach, parsley, and citrus juice for beautiful skin. The "zigzag diet" for weight loss involved a purge of Epsom salt in the morning and senna at night. He was a strong advocate of fortifying meals with "natural ingredients," such as dry brewer's yeast, wheat germ, yogurt, powdered skim milk, honey, blackstrap molasses, vegetable salt, vitamins, and minerals. The mass popularity of Hauser's "cures" was such that they became part of the routine of stand-up comics of the day. The great vaudeville and television comic Jimmy Durante joked that blackstrap molasses doesn't really make you live longer, it just seems longer.
Hauser developed a line of branded foods and supplements supporting his diets, which included products like Santay-Swiss, Anti-Diabetic Tea, and Nutro-Links. He also owned a restaurant in St. Petersburg, Florida, which featured his diet products on the menu. He encouraged his followers to open similar restaurants and sell his products. Virtually all of his books published in Great Britain suggest the consumption of foods available "direct from the manufacturers, Rational Diet Products, Chantry House, Grimsby" (Hauser 1939: 43). Three of his products, Slim, Correcol, and Hauser Potassium Broth, were seized by the FDA for fraudulent claims that violated the Pure Food and Drug Act.
Gayelord Hauser's advertising strategy largely relied on his personal image; that is, his physical attractiveness and glamorous social life added to his mass appeal, as did having media celebrity followers such as Cary Grant, Mae West, and Greta Garbo, whom he personally advised. As one critic commented recently about Hauser's importance in changing Hollywood's body image: "Hefty bodies and substantial meat-and-potatoes meals epitomized wealth and station—until the wraithlike Garbo slid narrowly on screen, and, off screen, ate salads and juices with her health-food guru lover, Gaylord Hauser" (Morrison 2006).
See also Celebrities
Anon. (1942) "Garbo's Gayelord," Time Archive, February 16, available online at <http:// www.time.com/time/archive/printout/ 0,23657,7664i6,00.html> (accessed March 26, 2006).
Davies, Jill (1994) "Fad Diets: Health Implications,"
Nutrition and Food Science 94 (5): 22-4. Fishbein, M. (1938) "Modern Medical Charlatans,"
Hygeia 16 (February): 113-14. Hauser, Bengamin Gayelord (1930) Food Science and Health, New York: Tempo.
-(1939) Eat and Grow Beautiful, London: Faber and
-(1950) Look Younger, Live Longer, New York:
Farrar, Straus & Company. Morrison, Patt (2006) "125 Years/Hollywood: The Pictures-Perfect City," Los Angeles Times, May 21:
Spencer, M. (1990) "A Run-in with the Elusive Garbo Provides the Perfect Party Topic," Los Angeles Times, April 17: 5.
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For centuries, ever since the legendary Ponce de Leon went searching for the elusive Fountain of Youth, people have been looking for ways to slow down the aging process. Medical science has made great strides in keeping people alive longer by preventing and curing disease, and helping people to live healthier lives. Average life expectancy keeps increasing, and most of us can look forward to the chance to live much longer lives than our ancestors.