Joe Weider, bodybuilder and fitness mentor to Arnold Schwarzenegger, dies

Joe Weider

ERIC JAMISON

Arnold Schwarzenegger, right, raises the arm of Joe Weider, the creator of Mr. Olympia Bodybuilding competition, during the 39th annual Mr. Olympia event Saturday, Oct. 25, 2003, at The Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Joe Weider, the legendary bodybuilding impresario Arnold Schwarzenegger has often cited as his key mentor, has died at age 93.

Weider's longtime publicist, Charlotte Parker, says the bodybuilder, publisher and promoter died Friday at his Los Angeles home.

Parker told The Associated Press the cause of death was heart failure.

A bodybuilder with an impressive physique himself, Weider became better known in later years as a behind-the-scenes guru to the sport. He popularized bodybuilding and spread the message of health and fitness worldwide with Muscle and Fitness and other magazines.

He also created the internationally recognized Mr. Olympia competition, an event that rocketed Schwarzenegger and other bodybuilders to fame.

In a statement posted on his website Saturday, Schwarzenegger called Weider a titan of the fitness industry:

"Today, I lost a dear friend and mentor, and the world lost one its strongest advocates of living a healthy lifestyle. Joe Weider was a titan in the fitness industry and one of the kindest men I have ever met.

I knew about Joe Weider long before I met him - he was the godfather of fitness who told all of us to "Be Somebody with a Body." He taught us that through hard work and training we could all be champions.  When I was a young boy in Austria, his muscle magazines provided me with the inspiration and the blueprint to push myself beyond my limits and imagine a much bigger future. I know that countless others around the world found motivation in the pages of his publications just as I did, but as I read his articles in Austria, I felt that he was speaking directly to me and I committed to move to America to make my vision of becoming the best bodybuilder, to live the American dream, and to become an actor a reality.

Joe didn’t just inspire my earliest dreams; he made them come true the day he invited me to move to America to pursue my bodybuilding career. I will never forget his generosity. One of Joe’s greatest qualities is that he wasn’t just generous with his money; he freely gave of his time and expertise and became a father figure for me. He advised me on my training, on my business ventures, and once, bizarrely, claimed I was a German Shakespearean actor to get me my first acting role in "Hercules in New York", even though I barely spoke English. As my career took off, he was always nearby, giving advice, promoting my movies or my crusade as the Chairman of the President's Council on Fitness in the pages of his magazines, and appearing at my fundraisers and events when I decided to run for Governor. He was there for me constantly throughout my life, and I will miss him dearly.

He leaves behind a fantastic legacy of a fitter world. Very few people can claim to have influenced as many lives as Joe did through his magazines, his supplements, his training equipment, and his big-hearted personality. Joe was known for urging everyone, “Exceed yourself,” and there is no question that throughout his life, he did just that.

My thoughts and prayers are with his extraordinary wife, the love of his life, Betty, and all of his family and friends."

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