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12 Solid Facts About “Pumping Iron”

Posted in Celebs, Movies, and Trivia

Jake Rosen and Mental_Floss present 12 Solid Facts About Pumping Iron.  Here are three of my favorites…

1. THE MOVIE ORIGINALLY CO-STARRED A WIMP.
When photographer George Butler was dispatched by both Life magazine and The Village Voice to cover the burgeoning bodybuilding scene in the early 1970s, he was fascinated with its abundance of charismatic participants. Feeling one of the sport’s star attractions, Arnold Schwarzenegger, could carry a full-length film, Butler decided to pursue a feature-length project with collaborator Robert Fiore that he began shooting in 1975. The problem was that Butler was focused on the mass monsters of the Mr. Olympia scene; to balance it out and offer audiences a more relatable subject, he enlisted slightly-built actor Bud Cort (Harold and Maude) and shot a lot of footage of him working out and marveling at the well-developed bodies all around him. The footage wound up being cut from the finished film.

2. NO ONE BELIEVED ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER COULD CARRY THE MOVIE.
While Butler was trying to raise funds, he shot a 10-minute test sequence of Schwarzenegger making a guest posing appearance in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Screening the footage for investors in New York, Butler was dismayed to see that they seemed more horrified than intrigued by the sight of the massive Austrian flexing his deltoids. After the footage ended, playwright Romulus Linney stood, turned to Butler, and said, “I think I speak for all of us when I say that if you make a movie about this Arnold person, we will laugh you off 42nd Street.” (Butler turned to another approach, piecemealing his budget together by petitioning more than 3000 separate financiers until he got the money he needed.)

5. LOU FERRIGNO PREDICTED HIS OWN FUTURE.
The nature of raw footage means that hundreds of hours of film were left on the cutting room floor, but according to Butler, one sequence in particular has never left his memory. Talking to Ferrigno about his future hopes, the actor told the director that “all I want to be is the Hulk.” He got his wish just two years later, starring for five seasons on CBS’s The Incredible Hulk.

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