And the 2016 celebrity death toll continues (Seriously, is George R.R. Martin writing the script for this year?!), as this morning brings the sad news that Italian acting legend Bud Spencer passed away last night at the age of 86.
Born Carlo Pedersoli in 1929 in Naples, Spencer (who chose his stage name as a tribute to his favourite beer Budweiser and American actor Spencer Tracy) first rose to fame a professional swimmer, becoming the first Italian to swim the 100m freestyle in under a minute. Eventually though he would quit his sporting career to star in a string of spaghetti westerns and action comedies between the 1950’s and 1980’s, often with long-time friend Terence Hill.
The duo would work together on over 20 films, with Spencer’s towering 6ft4 frame and stoic demeanour – not to mention his uncanny ability to slap his beefy hands into people’s heads – making him the perfect foil for Hill’s more quick witted rapscallion demeanor. Movies like They Call Me Trinity, Aces High and A Friend is Treasure would turn them into international sensations – and heroes to kids growing up in the 80’s like me.
Spencer’s career eventually shifted from movies to Italian television, and he eventually left acting behind completely, stepping into the realm of Italian politics in 2005. According to Spencer, “In my life, I’ve done everything. There are only three things I haven’t been – a ballet dancer, a jockey and a politician. Given that the first two jobs are out of the question, I’ll throw myself into politics.” It was unfortunately an unsuccessful career change though as he failed to stand as regional counselor in Lazio for the Forza Italia party.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi paid his respects in a Tweet this morning (in Italian), which reads “Ciao #BudSpencer We loved you so much.”
Ti abbiamo voluto bene in tanti
— Matteo Renzi (@matteorenzi) June 27, 2016
The Gentle Giant – as he was often described – passed away peacefully and without suffering in Rome surrounded by his family. Spencer is survived by Maria Amato, his wife of 56 years, his three children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Last Updated: June 28, 2016