OK, so he could look a little silly dragging a boat with this teeth as he swam across San Francisco Bay.

And few people would ever aspire to appear in public wearing a skin-tight, one-piece jumpsuit (and fewer could pull it off).

But Jack LaLanne, who died Sunday at the age of 96, was right.

Long before it was common wisdom, he preached the benefits of diet and exercise as the twin keys to living a long and healthy life.

He swore off processed foods made with sugar, salt and white flour when nutritionists said they were good for you. He told people to work out with weights when doctors told them it would give them heart attacks and diminish their sex drives.

He opened a workout facility with a natural food store and juice bar in 1936. He started a television fitness show in 1951.

His message was simple: Anyone could get fit if they took the time. LaLanne is credited with kicking off the modern fitness movement, which has been a constant of American culture since the 1970s.

It would be a great epitaph to say that he opened the world’s eyes to the benefits of diet and exercise, but there is plenty of evidence that the rest of us have not yet bought what LaLanne was selling. An obesity epidemic, particularly troubling among children, indicates that people are not careful enough about how they take care of their bodies.

In his later years, LaLanne became better known for his stunts – celebrating his birthdays with outrageous feats of strength – and as an infomercial huckster for a juicing machine than he was for his serious message with real consequences.

Now maybe the stunts will fade from memory and people will remember that Jack LaLanne had been right all along.