December 25, 1978 12:00 PM

He’s got the most celebrated legs since Betty Grable. “People come up to me at races,” declares author James Fixx, “and say, ‘We don’t want your autograph, we just want to see your legs.’ ” Those sinewy limbs decorate Fixx’s The Complete Book of Running, which has sold more than 650,000 in hardcover and is being published in 14 foreign countries.

The phenomenal book has made Fixx the most famous of America’s estimated 25 million joggers. “He used to be just a father,” says his son John, 17. “Now he’s a celebrity.”

Fixx is begged to endorse products ranging from bee pollen to arch supports. “One guy even wanted to put excerpts from the book on toilet paper.” So far Fixx has limited himself to TV commercials for American Express and Quaker Oats. He also wrote the text for a 1979 running calendar—with those renowned legs on the cover.

The unexpected success of Running (it is the biggest seller Random House has ever had except for Michener’s Chesapeake) has put Fixx in the 50 percent income tax bracket. Most of his profits—estimated at close to a million—are tucked away in municipal bonds. “I would rather have it not keep pace with inflation and be secure,” Fixx explains. (What does the windfall mean? Jim’s wife, Alice, replies: “Neither of us ever has to do anything we don’t want to do again.”)

He’s writing a new book—subject undisclosed, but it won’t be running. After that, “I’d like to go back to college and study something I never took before, like government or economics. To go to Yale and get a master’s,” says the 46-year-old Oberlin graduate, “now that would be great fun.”

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