Bill Pearl ushered in the modern era of bodybuilding, in my humble yet accurate opinion. He was the first really massive bodybuilder to experience a whole lot of success in the '50s and '60s.
Pearl won the pro Mr. Universe 4 times and would likely have won the Mr. Olympia; however, that contest didn't exist during his heyday so he never entered it. In fact, by the time the first Mr. O was held, in 1965, Pearl had already amassed 3 of his Mr. Universe titles.
Not many remember but Pearl was in his forties when he won his fourth and final pro Mr. U in 1971.
Even fewer remember that he won his first major contest in 1953, beating out Sean Connery in the amateur Mr. Universe.
Many know him to be a vegetarian bodybuilder. But he only converted from being an omnivore to a vegetarian after he'd built all his mass and experienced much of his success. In fact, he was 39 when he became a lacto-ovo vegetarian (meaning he includes dairy and eggs in his daily diet).