Joe Weider, the Los Angeles-based bodybuilding pioneer who created an enormous fitness publishing empire and discovered a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, died Saturday of heart failure at a Los Angeles hospital, according to his longtime publicist, Charlotte Parker. He was 93.
Born Nov. 29, 1919, in a tough section of Montreal, Weider made his first barbells out of a train axle and wheels and began lifting weights to protect himself from local bullies. His passion became an obsession, and by the age of 16, he had started his first fitness magazine.
Along with founding Muscle & Fitness, Men's Fitness, Natural Health and Shape magazines, the fitness impresario co-founded the International Federation of Bodybuilders and was the creator of the Mr. Olympia, the Ms. Olympia and the Masters Olympia bodybuilding contests. His enthusiasm for the sport combined with his keen entrepreneurship brought worldwide attention to bodybuilding.
Weider discovered Schwarzenegger at a teen bodybuilding contest in Europe and brought the young Austrian to the U.S. He mentored Schwarzenegger in bodybuilding and business, and in 1969 helped him get his first film role in "Hercules in New York." Weider convinced the producers that Austrian muscleman was a German Shakespearean actor.
Calling Weider, “a titan in the fitness industry and one of the kindest men I have ever met," Schwarzenegger said "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."
Although diagnosed with a heart condition 12 years ago, Weider remained active "almost until the end," said Parker. "That never slowed him down," she added. "He was amazing."
Watch the dynamic Weider in action in the video below.