Roger Callard: From Farm boy to Venice Beach

CHESANING (WJRT) (5/21/2020) - There's no doubt Roger Callard is a very strong man.

The former professional bodybuilder racked up a ton of hardware during the Golden Era of bodybuilding, but he gave-up the bright lights of Hollywood to come home to Michigan.

"I grew up right here in Mid-Michigan, on a farm 160 acres. My dad was a construction worker and my mother was a stay at home mother," said Roger.

Roger grew up came from humble growing up with two sisters and one older brother, and it was in Brady township where Roger developed his love for football and weight lifting.

"I think I was 11. I must've bugged my brother so much. He was 7 years older. So he was 18; he was at Michigan State. I looked at him at I said 'Man he's buff. What did you do?' He said 'Well I had a weight lifting class.' I go, "Wow,'" said Roger.

When Roger started lifting weight, he says he started seeing some serious results in the mirror and on the gridiron, which enabled him to receive a football athletic scholarship to Michigan State.

"When I went to Michigan State," Callard explained. "There was this guy there, his name was Kent Keane and he was a bodybuilder. He goes 'You should be a bodybuilder.' I say 'What do you mean.' He says 'You got everything: you got wider shoulders, big legs, good calves, you got the things most people would die to have.' So that year I competed, I think I came in third and then the next year, April 12th, 1972. I won Mr. Michigan."

After graduation in 1972, he headed West to California to live out his dream at Venice Beach.

"I had a ticket, but I had $200; that's all I had. I got to Gold's Gym. They had already had an article on me in "Strength and Health" and when I walk-in they go, 'Awh you're the guy with the shoulders?,'" said Roger. "And there's this Austrian guy over there that goes 'Hi Roger.' It was Arnold."

During his 14-year professional career, Roger won over 10 competitions with his most impressive victories being the International Federation of Body Builders Mr. USA in 1975 and Mr. International in 1978.

Roger's success also bolstered him to another career path.

"In 1973, I'm on the beach one of the power lifters from the gym goes, 'How would you guys like to be in a movie,'" said Roger. "I go, 'I'll do it.' And that was the 'World's Strongest Man.'"

Roger's acting career saw him play in over 20 movies and made appearances in hit TV-shows such as "Charlie's Angels," "Renegade," and "Walker, Texas Ranger."

"One thing lead to another. But in high school the (football) coach was the drama coach... and there was one girl I was interested in and we did one play it was called 'The Mouse That Roared.' And at the end and you voted for who should win the dramatics award, amongst the cast. I ended up winning after that I was kind of hooked."

In 1982 Roger's even co-starred in his own romance.

"Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak wanted to put on concert called the US festival... It's a three day concert and I'm going around on my little golf cart... I see this vision of a woman and she's just beautiful... and our eyes met. and it was love at first sight... and her name was Mimi."

Rogers and his wife Mimi married shortly after. But in 2007, there lives changed forever.

"My wife was diagnosed with cancer... once you have a diagnosis you accept it and you start a treatment; you fight it. But when you get that first diagnosis it's a very telling blow and in 2009 a young girl came to wife and said there is nothing more we can do. So I decided at that point if I was going to go through something as traumatic as the death of my wife... I knew I had to come home."

Mimi lost her battle with cancer in December of 2013, Roger remained in Michigan ever since.

Roger: "I didn't just come home for that reason, I came home because this is where I'm from; this is apart of me," said Callard. " You can't change the past and you can't change the future. The only moment you can change is the present. So we have to stay present."

From Brady Township, to Vince Beach, back to Michigan; Roger Callard truly came full circle.