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First Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott, Passes at 75
Carol and I only met Larry Scott in person once. It was on July 21, 2011, at the formal opening of The Joe and Betty Weider Museum at The Stark Center for Physical Culture & Sports, a research center at The University of Texas at Austin. It was a fitting setting, because the Mr. Olympia contest, crowning the top professional bodybuilder in the world, was Betty Weider’s idea and perhaps Joe Weider’s biggest promotional success. Larry won the inaugural event in 1965 and repeated the next year. He retired from competition—but continued to make his living in bodybuilding—after the second win. He was 28. The contest continues to the present day, with Arnold having won it seven times. Larry’s prize was $1000, while the current winners add more zeroes.
In the group photo below, Larry Scott is in the blue shirt on the left and Joe and Betty are in the middle. (Arnold’s in the middle on the left.) As you can see, Larry looks trim, healthy and happy--he was all smiles as we recall. No one could’ve guessed that he would be dead in three short years, passing on March 8, 2014, almost a year to the day after Joe’s death. After a short bout with Alzheimer’s, Larry was gone.
photo was taken by Carol near the end of the evening. Front row, left to right:
Frank Zane, Joe Weider, and Boyer Coe.
Middle row: Larry Scott, Chris Dickerson, Betty Weider, Lee Haney, and Arnold. Back row: Mark Henry, Bill Pearl, Terry Todd, and Bill Kazmaier.
I talked with Larry a time or two on the phone. He was always friendly and down to earth. You would never know that he was the biggest name in bodybuilding at one time, featured on 34 magazine covers from 1960 to 1997. Known as the Golden Boy, he was known for his humongous arms. A version of the Preacher-Bench Curl he preferred was named Scott Curls; he sold his own version of the bench. Genetics—and hard work—favored him with huge arms, but he packed on beautifully-shaped muscle all over. Audiences went wild when he came on stage; a master of posing and playing to the crowd, he’d wait in the wings to let anticipation build before coming out. He never disappointed his fans.
“Like his incredible arms, Larry was big and strong of heart and soul and mind,” Dave Draper wrote in his weekly column a few days after his old friend’s passing. Competing on the same stage with Scott at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City, Dave won the IFBB Mr. America in 1965 and Mr. Universe in 1966. They both appeared in the movie Don’t Make Waves. “The man was smart, witty and clever, cool, calm and collected—a massively muscled bodybuilder of unconventional style.”
Go to Dave’s March 12, 2014, offering for more details as only he can articulate them. An example: “Gee, I felt self-conscious. I wondered if Larry ever got dirty.”
Born in Idaho, Larry was a family man—survived by his wife Rachel and three of their five children—and a highly regarded resident of Utah. Read more about his life and times in the expansive obituary which appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/sports/57661795-77/scott-bodybuilding-schwarzenegger-won.html.csp (For still more details--and wonderful photos--see Volume 2 of Bill Pearl’s Legends of the Iron Game: Go Legends )
Can’t match Dave Draper’s closing, so I’ll repeat it: “See you around, Mister O.”
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