Bodybuilder, actor Franco Columbu dead at 78

Man one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's closest friends

By Stephen Anthony Sobek
Giulio Marcocchi/Getty Images

Franco Columbu

(CNN) - Bodybuilder, former Mr. Olympia and actor Franco Columbu, one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s closest friends, has died, TMZ.com and the New York Daily News reported.

He was 78, the Daily News said.

Columbu died while swimming off the cost of his native Sardinia, according to reports in Italian media, the paper said.

"I love you Franco,” Schwarzenegger tweeted. “I will always remember the joy you brought to my life, the advices you gave me, and the twinkle in your eye that never disappeared. You were my best friend."

Besides being a bodybuilder, weightlifter and boxer, Columbu also acted in TV and movies. He appeared in the Schwarzenneger movies “The Terminator,” “The Running Man” and “Conan the Barbarian.” He was also in the 1977 documentary “Pumping Iron.”

Lau Nuova reported that he drowned while swimming at the beach town of San Teodoro, the Daily News said. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Distributed by LAKANA. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.