Baby Boomer Celebrity: What Happened to Mark Spitz?

Posted on July 29th, 2014 in 1970s,1990s,Celebrities,Midlife,Pop Culture,Television by Terry Hamburg



It took Michael Phelps a generation to break my 1972 Olympics mark of 7 gold medals. Each represented a new world record time. With all due modesty, I was the greatest swimmer of the baby boomer or any other era.

I had done it all by age 22. When you’re that good, there’s nothing left but to retire.

Everyone wanted me to endorse their product. People called me the greatest pop culture celebrity hero since Charles Lindbergh. I was one of two individuals to have virtual 100% name recognition – the other, President Nixon.

The fabled William Morris Agency signed me faster than I could blow dry my hair from the Olympic pool. I made millions in a couple of years. I became the hottest pin-up since Betty Grable.


I was the first baby boomer athlete who really cashed in on his success. Phelps and others were traveling a trail I blazed. Of course, many were jealous of my success. They accused me of making easy money. What should I have done? Gone back to my plans to be a dentist?

Could that be the reason I was panned as a “talent” in commercials and television guest spots? Well, I ended up making more money in Hollywood real estate than as an “actor.”

In 1992, I got the swimming bug again. Maybe I was going through some mid-life crisis. I was only eight pounds heavier than 20 years earlier and just missed making the Olympic team.

Still devilishly handsome today


I felt snubbed when I didn’t get a special invitation by Phelps or the American Committee to attend the 2008 Olympics. Is that too much to ask? Instead, I should sit anonymously in general admission and watch Phelps try to break my record? So I decided not to go. But I’m too big to hold a grudge. Michael is a great athlete and I wish him well.

I’ve been married to the same woman all my life and have two wonderful sons. I’m currently a stock broker and motivational speaker. Sailing is my passion.



Trivia Factoid

At the 1972 Munich Olympics, Palestinian terrorists  kidnapped and killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team. Spitz had finished his competitions by then. He was whisked away from Munich for fear his Jewish heritage might make him a target.


Baby Boomer Trivia Questions


Match the star to the sports movie:

Tin Cup
Days of Thunder
League of Their Own
Color of Money

Tom Hanks, Rene Russo, Nicole Kidman, Paul Newman


Boomers in Common: What do all these celebrities share?

Gladys Knight
Milton Berle
Charlie Sheen
Michael Jordon
Don Adams

Answers at end of post



Match the star to the sports movie:

Tin Cup→ Rene Russo
Days of Thunder Nicole Kidman
League of Their Own Tom Hanks
Color of MoneyPaul Newman


Boomers in Common: All have admitted to a gambling addiction.

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