Throwback Thursday: Gil Birmingham, Bodybuilder and Boy Toy of Diana Ross

Photo of Gil Birmingham in his bodybuilding days, plus the video for 'Muscles' by Diana Ross, in which he was featured as bronzed, bulging eye candy.
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Ol' Beefcake Birmingham.

Today, Gil Birmingham, Comanche, is best known as one of Indian country's leading actors: his film credits include Twilight movies, Crooked Arrows, Shouting Secrets and The Lone Ranger; and he's been a recurring character in the TV series House of Cards, Banshee, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

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What's less well known about Birmingham, though, is the path his career took before he settled on acting. He graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science degree, and worked for a time as a petrochemical engineer. He was also a competitive bodybuilder, and while working out at a gym was noticed by a talent scout. Thanks to his muscles, Birmingham landed a role in a video by a pop-music legend: the 1982 hit "Muscles," by Diana Ross. 

Actor Gil Birmingham posted this vintage bodybuilding photo of himself to his Facebook page in January.

"Muscles" pushed Birmingham to pursue acting as a career. While trying to get his start in the industry, he took a job playing Conan the Barbarian at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. In 1986, Birmingham made his first TV appearance, playing a cop in an episode of Riptide, and his screen acting career was underway.

Here's "Muscles"; can you spot the future Billy Black?

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