Franco Columbu (August 7, 1941 – August 30, 2019) was an Italian actor and bodybuilder.
Starting out his athletic career as a boxer, Columbu progressed into the sport of powerlifting and later bodybuilding, winning the title of Mr. Olympia in 1976 and 1981. At one time he was considered to be one of the world's strongest men and held a number of powerlifting and weightlifting world records. At 5 feet and 5 inches in height, Columbu is shorter than most of his bodybuilding competitors, but that has not prevented him from achieving widespread success.
Franco Columbu is also famous for being a long time friend of Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom he met in Munich in 1965 and competed against in several international-level bodybuilding competitions. For the Mr. Olympia competitions however, he competed in the under 200 lb (90.7 kg) category, whereas Schwarzenegger was in the over 200 lb category. The final champion was determined by a pose down between the two class winners.
In addition to his athletic accomplishments, Columbu has also made intermittent minor forays into acting. Appearing alongside Arnold in Pumping Iron, he has also appeared in cameo roles in Conan the Barbarian, The Terminator, The Running Man and starred in his own films, notably, Beretta's Island.
He held doctorates in chiropractic and nutrition.
In the movie Pumping Iron Columbu is shown to lift an awkwardly parked Fiat car out of its parking spot.
"Winners Do What They Fear"
- Franco Columbu
Columbu was the best man at Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver's 1986 wedding.
One of Columbu's feats of strength was to blow up a hot water bottle until it burst.
In the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Last Action Hero, the words "A Franco Columbu film" appear on the screen at the beginning of Jack Slater IV (a film within the film) as a tribute to Columbu.
In Terminator, Columbu plays the infiltrating terminator in Reese's flashback/dream in which the picture of Sarah Connor is destroyed by fire.
In the opening scenes of Conan the Barbarian, Columbu plays a 'pictish scout', complete with mustache, wig and blue body-paint.
Columbu competed in the 1977 World's Strongest Man competition and finished fifth, despite not being able to complete all the events having broken his leg in the 'Refrigerator Carry' event.
I'm the strongest bodybuilder who ever lived, I think."
- Franco Columbu
Champion of Italy
Champion of Germany
Champion of Europe
Powerlifting world records
Bench press 520 lb (236 kg)
Squat 655 lb (297 kg)
Deadlift 750 lb (340 kg)
Olympic press 325 lb (147 kg)
Snatch 270 lb (122 kg)
Clean and jerk 400 lb (181 kg)
Amateur Boxing Champion
R.I.P FRANCO COLUMBU
(August 7, 1941 – August 30, 2019)