Arnold Schwarzenegger Pens Tribute To Bodybuilding Legend After His Death

Arnold Schwarzenegger as the T800 in Terminator Dark Fate
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Sometimes we forget that the hero of one generation was inspired by a hero of their own. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who became famous for being a world-class bodybuilder before becoming the leading action star in movies like The Terminator, Predator and Total Recall, just lost his “idol” in Dave Draper, an American bodybuilder, actor and author. Schwarzenegger penned a tribute to Draper following news of his death. 

Dave Draper died on Tuesday morning at the age of 79 in a “calm and peaceful” way, according to his wife Laree Draper’s Facebook post. He was memorably Mr. America in 1965, Mr. Universe in 1966 and part of the 1967 comedy, Don’t Make Waves starring Sharon Tate (famously portrayed by Margot Robbie in Once Upon a Time In Hollywood) and Tony Curtis. Arnold Schwarzenegger took to Instagram to pay tribute to Draper, sharing a throwback picture with him and some words: 

In the tribute, Arnold Schwarzenegger shared that when he was growing up in Austria, he kept a cover of a magazine featuring Dave Draper above his bed as inspiration to follow his path. Seeing Draper star in Don’t Make Waves made Schwarzenegger believe his dreams were “possible.” When Schwarzenegger ventured to America in 1968 at the age of 21, he moved to Venice, California and began training, later nabbing the Mr. Olympia title in 1970. 

Somewhere in between, he apparently met his hero in America, and as Arnold Schwarzenegger put it, learned that his “heart was as big as his pecs.” He shared that Dave Draper even hand-built his first furniture in Los Angeles. He continued with these words: 

Can you imagine meeting your idol and becoming his training partner and traveling all over the world together? I was in heaven. He couldn’t have been more welcoming, and he was a fantastic training partner who always pushed everyone around him in the gym to be better. He was an amazing writer and a great family man. I will miss the Blond Bomber, but his memory will always be with me. My thoughts are with Laree and the whole family.

Over the years, Arnold Schwarzenegger has become an icon himself, and surely someone many young men have looked up to as his career progressed. It’s interesting to hear about his own idol and how he actually came to meet him and become close to him in his life. Dave Draper was just five years older than him, and Schwarzenegger found inspiration in the bodybuilder, took the steps and did the hard work to achieve his goals and have his own idol take notice of him. 

Nowadays, Arnold Schwarzenegger still lives in Los Angeles, California, has built an impressive family over the years, has tons of one-liners to show for his action career and was even the governor of California at one point. The actor is set to star in a sequel to Twins, Triplets, with Danny DeVito and Tracy Morgan next. 

We send our condolences to the family, friends and fans of Dave Draper following news of his death. His memory will live on through his impact, such as through Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.