The son of a Coney Island candy maker and the winner of a Modern Apollo contest, wiry, little Joe Bonomo parlayed his physical culture fame into a lucrative film career as a stunt performer and, at Universal, star of silent serials. The grand prize in the Apollo contest was a 1,000-dollar purse and a screen role opposite celebrity/star Hope Hampton in A Light in the Dark. Joe also doubled Hampton and was well on his way to stardom in such action serials as The Great Circus Mystery, in which he prevented a plot by Hindu agents to steal an invaluable ruby, and The Chinatown Mystery (1928), as a secret service agent battling the mysterious Sphinx. Bonomo made the transition to talkies but a heavy Brooklyn accent prevented him from playing Anthony opposite Claudette Colbert's Cleopatra (1932) and the sign was on the wall. After performing stunts and playing bit parts in such near-legendary horror films as The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) and Island of Lost Souls (1933), Bonomo returned to the family's well-established salt water taffy business and later ventured into publishing, an equally thriving venture that culminated with his 1968 autobiography, The Strongman.