Franco Columbu, a world-renowned bodybuilder died last Friday at the age of 78. Columbu, a former Mr. Universe, appeared in 1977's seminal Pumping Iron, as well as movies like Conan the Barbarian, The Terminator, and The Running Man. Joining him in each of those flicks was his good pal, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who penned a heartfelt tribute to his late friend over the weekend.
From the minute we met in Munich, you were my partner in crime. We pushed each other, we competed with each other, and we laughed at every moment along the way.
When I finally got to America, I was alone. I’d left my family, my country, my whole life behind. So when I asked Joe Weider to bring you to train with me, it was because I knew I wasn’t the same without my best friend. I could thrive without money, without my parents, but I couldn’t thrive without you.
I am devastated today. But I am also so, so grateful for the 54 years of friendship and joy we shared. The pumps, the chess games, the construction work, the meals, the pranks, the life lessons — we did it all together. We grew and we learned and we loved. My life was more fun, more colorful, and more complete because of you.
Schwarzenegger goes on to call Columbu his “best friend,” and shares a handful of photos encompassing the pair’s early days flexing their pecs to their time on film sets to their many intense chess matches. Read it in full here.