Lisa Lyon, Bodybuilding Pioneer and Mapplethorpe Muse, Dies at 70

Lisa Robin Lyon was born on May 13, 1953, in Los Angeles. Her father, Leonard Lyon, was an oral surgeon, and her mother, Roslyn (Robin) Lyon, was a homemaker.

Lisa told Mr. Chatwin that she had a dark childhood and created rituals — counting, touching things — to self-soothe. Before she found bodybuilding fame, she wanted to be a film star or an artist or a medical illustrator. She worked for a time writing script synopses.

After her early fame as a body builder, she mostly left that world behind, though she published a book, “Lisa Lyon’s Body Magic,” in 1981. In 2000, she was inducted into the International Fitness and Bodybuilding Federation Hall of Fame.

Mr. Mapplethorpe was not the only artist to memorialize Ms. Lyon. She was photographed by Helmut Newton, Marcus Leatherdale and Lynn Davis, among others, and rendered in bronze by Barry Flanagan, an Irish-Welsh sculptor. She also appeared in several movies, including “Vamp,” a cheerfully panned Grace Jones vehicle about a vampire; Ms. Lyon had a bit part as a stripper.

In addition to Mr. Schwartz, she is survived by her sister, Duffy Hurwin. An early and very brief marriage to an ethnologist and part-time bodybuilder ended in divorce, as did her marriage to Bernard Lavilliers, a French singer-songwriter. She had a romantic relationship with John Lilly, an eccentric neuroscientist and author whose work with isolation tanks and studies of dolphin communication inspired two Hollywood movies, “The Day of the Dolphin” (1973) and “Altered States” (1980); he adopted her in 1987. Ms. Lyon’s third husband, Alan Deglin, an actor she married in 2009, died in 2020.

In the Washington Post interview, Ms. Lyon said her aspiration was to look like an animal, “a sleek, feline animal.” The ultimate compliment to her look, she said, would be “if someone asked, ‘What planet did she come from?’”

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