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Arthur Jones; Revolutionized Exercise Industry

"This is the first machine that truly isolates the muscles of the lower back," he told Business Week magazine. "My competitors who say otherwise are liars or fools -- or both. Let them sue me. I can't wait." Suspicious of the competitors, whom he called "thieves, frauds, fakers, slanderers and incompetents," he often carried a Colt .45.

"I've shot 630 elephants and 63 men, and I regret the elephants more," he told reporters in the 1970s.

Born to a well-off family in Arkansas, he was the son of two doctors. He started running away from home at a young age and dropped out of school in ninth grade. "I should have dropped out in sixth grade," he told Forbes.

He rode the rails, he later told interviewers, until enlisting in the Navy during World War II and serving in the Pacific. After the war, he launched a zoo in Slidell, La.

Somewhere along the way, he learned to fly and began collecting exotic animals, which he ferried to zoos, pet stores and researchers. He claimed run-ins with agencies such as the CIA and FBI, which he said accused him of running guns or bombs to Cuba.

For 12 years, business thrived. He made a series of TV programs that aired as "Wild Cargo" in the United States. In the mid-1960s, he moved his family to Rhodesia, where they lived two years until the government took exception to his wild-game business and seized his assets, forcing his return to the United States.

He had never formally studied physiology, but one of his daughters told People magazine that he kept a freezer full of frozen human limbs for research. He acknowledged that his politics were to the right of Attila the Hun and, while living in a state plagued by drug runners, advocated killing drug users.

"When I was broke, I was crazy," he said. "Now that I am rich, I'm eccentric."

Mr. Jones married six women -- all 16 to 20 years old at the time -- and divorced them all. At least four children survive him.

He sold Nautilus in 1986 for $23 million. He also sold MedX in 1996 and then retired. Among his other inventions were photographic vehicles and camera mounts and lenses.

"Specialization is for insects," he once snapped. "There is no limit to my abilities. I can do anything and do it well if I turn my mind to it."

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