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In 21 years with this magazine, I’ve seen us publish incisive profiles of dozens of Coloradans. Some of these portraits have focused on people readers didn’t necessarily know; others centered on politicians, entertainers, and athletes with widely recognized names. Without taking anything away from any of those humans, I can say without hesitation that the subject of this issue’s narrative feature enjoys a singular brand of celebrity: Frank Azar, aka the Strong Arm, may be the most famous Coloradan that no one outside of the Centennial State has ever heard of.
The personal injury attorney, renowned for his ubiquitous TV commercials and countless billboards—I’ve recently spotted four within a five-mile radius of my home—has inspired both eye rolls as a perceived ambulance chaser and admiration for building and branding what we all assume is a successful law firm. But the truth is, we don’t know Azar or his business; we only think we do.
These misconceptions drove features editor Spencer Campbell to reach out to the lawyer. “I really thought Azar would be at peace with his reputation,” says Campbell, who spent time with Azar this past fall. “What quickly became apparent, however, is how badly the Strong Arm wants to be taken seriously.” The resulting profile reveals a man who has long been obscured by a persona he wishes he’d never created.
Campbell depicts a person who is by turns thoughtful, goofy, and a little self-conscious and who, perhaps most important, is very serious about his work. Azar has used his might in surprising and sometimes admirable ways. He may always be the Strong Arm—and those commercials will likely continue to elicit ridicule—but I, for one, will now see a different man on the billboard.