National Fitness Hall of Fame Museum & Institute

Educate * Motivate * Inspire

Sylvia Ulback (6 April 1881 - 2 March 1975) –

Ms. Ulback was an early fitness guru known as “Sylvia of Hollywood.”  Between 1916 and 1942 "Madame Sylvia," as she was also known, specialized in keeping movie stars camera-ready through stringent massage, diet and exercise.  Sylvia meshed dieting knowledge with her massage training and applied those skills to a growing list of clientele, which included socialites and others in the public eye.

Promoting a three-pronged approach of massage, exercise and diet, Sylvia's effective techniques were said to ‘squeeze off fat’ which were infamous within the ranks of Hollywood.  Her name became popularly associated with Hollywood slenderizing. 

Sylvia authored three books on health, appearance and beauty:   “No More Alibis” (1934), “Pull Yourself Together Baby”  (1936) “Streamline Your Figure” (1939).  “No More Alibis” was sixth on the non-fiction list of bestsellers from August 19 to September 17, 1936.

Between 1933 and 1936, Sylvia had a radio show that promoted beauty and fitness and had a had a column in the popular Photoplay magazine, covering beauty tips, celebrity beauty issues and eventually reader's problems.  The column began in February 1932 and went through 1936.