Dave Draper, a prominent 1960s bodybuilder who won three major titles before retiring at age 28, died on Nov. 30 in Aptos, Calif. 79.

His wife, Laree Draper, stated he died of heart failure.

The six-foot-tall, 235-pound Mr. New Jersey winner made a name for himself in 1962 by winning the Mr. New Jersey competition. He relocated to Southern California and kept sculpting his figure at the Dungeon, a gym on famed Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, and Gold’s Gym in Los Angeles’ Venice area.

It was good for his health and spirituality. Bodybuilders’ preening and posturing at contests and exhibitions bothered him.

“For a respectable season of my life, that felt like the thing to do,” Mr. Draper said in 2009. “But competition stood between me and the solitary exertion, unadulterated joy, and everyday satisfaction of growing muscle and strength.”

Despite this, Mr. Draper, often known as the Blond Bomber, was a 1960s bodybuilding star. Mr. America in 1965, Mr. Universe in 1966 (before Arnold Schwarzenegger from Austria) and Mr. World in 1970.

“Dave trained harder than anyone else and always wore jeans to the gym,” said Mr. Olympia Frank Zane. “He was muscular and loved to workout. He disliked competition.”

Mr. Draper’s stunning figure found a home in Hollywood. He appeared in “The Beverly Hillbillies” (as Dave Universe, Elly May Clampett’s date) and “The Monkees” (as a character named Bulk). In “Don’t Make Waves” (1967), he portrayed Sharon Tate’s lover.

“When I watched him in ‘Don’t Make Waves,’ I thought, ‘My ambitions are possible,’” Mr. Schwarzenegger said after Mr. Draper died.

Mr. Draper, a superb carpenter, joined Mr. Schwarzenegger’s training and constructed furniture for his Santa Monica house. “I discovered his heart was as large as his pecs,” he remarked.

Mr. Draper abused beer, marijuana, and angel dust while competing. (He claims he used steroids under doctor’s supervision.) He battled alcoholism until 1983, when he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

Ms. Draper, who met her future husband at a gym in Capitola, Calif., near Santa Cruz, blamed his drinking and drug abuse on the pressures of Hollywood.

“I suppose he got caught up in it,” she stated in an interview.

David Paul Draper was born in Secaucus, NJ. Dan Draper was a salesperson; Anne (Simsek) Draper was a housewife.

Dave, a non-athlete, acquired his first set of weights at age 10. By 12, he was pounding barbells and dumbbells.

His book “A Glimpse in the Rear View” (2020) is a collection of pieces from his website. If I continued missing the baseball and talking to females who were too cute to talk to, the weights were there and they understood me.

With his own muscle magazines, training equipment, supplements, and contests, he became the weekend manager of a gym in Jersey City at the age of 19. The Weider Barbell warehouse also hired him part-time to work out with the other shipment clerks. Mr. Weider, the Master Blaster, gave Mr. Draper the nickname Blond Bomber.

“He had the fire in the gut, don’t kid yourself,” Mr. Weider told GQ in 2000. “He wouldn’t have attained his body without working hard.”

Mr. Draper went to Santa Monica after winning Mr. New Jersey. Mr. Draper began to appear on the covers of magazines like Muscle Builder and Mr. America, and in commercials for his equipment.

Mr. Draper said he was proud to be a “muscle-building original” after winning Mr. America at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

He stated in “A Glimpse in the Rear View” that he innovated, improvised, and rooted about with a tiny band of rebels with a cause: to build solid strength and might through the austere, hard work of love — the lifting of iron.

Mr. Draper sued Mr. Weider in 1972 for not paying him for promoting his gym and bodybuilding items. He settled for $17,500 before the jury ruled.

Mr. Draper lifted weights until a year before his death.

Sober, he got a job as a special programmer at a Santa Cruz gym In the 1990s, he co-founded two World Gyms with Laree Setterlund, which they owned and managed throughout the 2000s.

His survivors include his wife, sisters Dana Harrison and Carla Scott, brothers Don and Jerry, two grandsons, and one great-grandchild. Jamie Johnson died in 2016. His divorce with Penny Koenemund was final.

In one column, Mr. Draper imagined his life without weight lifting. He couldn’t take the concept.

“None? Reps? No ingenious plan to blast the delts or biceps?” he wrote. “Days without chasing intense agony with utmost muscle effort?” His words were followed by the words “lost, gone, no more: nary a vestige to remember, disappoint, or disgrace.” “Shot!”