February 20th, 2008

FLEX and Weider Publications are saddened to report that Shelley Beattie, 1990 USA overall champion, succumbed to an as-yet-undisclosed illness on February 13, 2008, in Portland, Oregon. Born in Santa Ana, California, on August 24, 1968, three-year-old Beattie suffered a profound hearing loss attributed to an aspirin overdose. Moving to Oregon at 11, Beattie turned to track and field competition and later started lifting weights at 15 to counteract socialization problems at school.

In 1986, Beattie entered her first bodybuilding contest, the Portland Rose Cup Novice, where she placed fourth. For the next four years, she was a mainstay at amateur physique shows in the Pacific Northwest, culminating in an overall win at the 1990 Emerald Cup. Within a few months, Beattie had become an IFBB pro at the age of 22 by virtue of her USA overall win in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Although she participated in only six pro showdowns, she notched a third place at both the Ms. International and Ms. Olympia. During her time as a competitive bodybuilder, she frequently held down two full-time positions as a group home counselor for special needs children. In a December 1990 FLEX profile, she said, “My own handicap has taught me the value of patience, which allows me to handle just about anything that happens to me.” Beattie twice appeared on the cover of DeafLife, a publication targeted to the hearing impaired.

Well-known in bodybuilding circles, Beattie’s notoriety took a tremendous leap as she portrayed American Gladiator Siren in 44 episodes from 1992 to 1997. She can also be seen in a cameo as Siren in the 1993 movie Hot Shots! Part Deux.

An extraordinary athlete, Beattie served as a grinder on the first all-female America’s Cup sailing team in 1994 and later was a handcar-racing champion. With her versatility and life experiences helping to make her a role model for young adults, Shelley Beattie has been taken from us too soon at the age of 39.

-- George De Pirro