Mark Forest (born Lou Degni in Brooklyn, January 6. 1933) is an American actor and bodybuilder best known for playing the lead in a series of peplum movies in the 1960s, including the role of Maciste several times.
Lou Degni began bodybuilding at the age of 13 that led to him opening a gym on Long Island. A Hollywood talent scout saw his picture and invited him to Hollywood to audition for the role of Tarzan. Though he did not get the part, he became part of Mae West’s troupe of musclemen in her Las Vegas stage show. During this time he entered several weightlifting competitions and won the title of “Mr. Muscle Beach” in Venice, California.
After the phenomenal worldwide success of Hercules he became the second American actor to be recruited by Italian producers. He was signed to a three-picture contract with La vendetta di Ercole retitled Goliath and the Dragon for the US market being his first film. His name was changed for the film but he had a strong advantage due to his speaking fluent Italian prior to arriving in Europe. For the English version of the film he was dubbed by Jackson Beck who voiced Bluto in the Popeye cartoons.
Forest continued in the peplum genre but left the cinema for a career as a European opera singer. He began a third career as a California voice coach.