Bud Spencer, Italian spaghetti westerns star, dead at 86

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Bud Spencer dies at the age of 86

ROME — Burly Italian actor Bud Spencer, who starred in more than 70 genre movies, including many widely exported Spaghetti Westerns such as "Trinity is Still My Name," one of Italy's all-time top grossing titles, has died. He was 86.

Spencer, whose real name was Carlo Pedersoli, passed away "peacefully" at his home in Rome on Monday, his son Giuseppe Perdersoli said in a media statement which did not disclose the exact cause of death.

In the late 1960's, just as his acting career was starting to take off, Pedersoli had changed his name to Bud Spencer as a homage to Budweiser beer and Spencer Tracy. He also reportedly thought it was ironic to call himself Bud despite his Herculean physique which made him known to his fans as "the big friendly giant" of the screen.

Born in Naples in 1929, Spencer first gained a measure of fame as an athlete, becoming the first Italian to swim the 100-meter freestyle in less one minute and competing on Italy's national Olympic team in 1952 and 1956.

See photos of Bud Spencer throughout his career:

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Italian actor Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) looking far-away in the film Even Angels Eat Beans. Rome, 1973 (Photo by Rino Petrosino\Mondadori Portfolio by Getty Images)
Italian actor Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) smoking a cigarette sitting on a chair on the set of the film Watch Out, We're Mad. Rome, 1974 (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio by Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Spencer, Bud *31.10.1929-Schauspieler, Italien(eigentlich Carlo Pedersoli)- in dem Film 'Zwei Himmelhunde auf dem Weg zur Hoelle'- 1972 (Photo by Tobis/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
'Italian actor, director, scriptwriter and TV producer Terence Hill (Mario Girotti) and Italian actor, scriptwriter and film producer Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) acting in the film Watch Out, We're Mad. 1973 (Photo by Rino Petrosino\Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)'
(GERMANY OUT) Gemma, Giuliano *02.09.1938-Filmschauspieler, Iim Film 'Auch die Engel essenBohnen' (r) mit Bud Spencer - 1973 (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Italian actor Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) standing on the set of the film Flatfoot in Hong Kong. Rome, 1975 (Photo by Mario Notarangelo\Mondadori Portfolio by Getty Images)
'The Italian actor Bud Spencer, pseudonym of Carlo Pedersoli, looks at a man playing the piano on the stage of the ship casino; the scene is from the homonymous movie Charleston. Italy, 1977. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)'
'Italian actor, scriptwriter and film producer Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) smiling on the set of the film Soldier of Fortune. Lucera, 1975 (Photo by Rino Petrosino\Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)'
'Bud Spencer punches Terence Hill on a ship in the open sea, in a scene of the movie A Friend is a Treasure, where the two Italian actors play respectively the parts of Charlie and Alan, searching for a hidden treasure. Key Biscayne, Florida (USA), 1981. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)'
The italian actor Bud Spencer in Madrid, 1983. Madrid, Spain. (Photo by gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty Images)
'Italian actor, scriptwriter and film producer Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) and his daughter, Italian actress Diamante, posing smiling on the seashore. 1987 (Photo by Barbara Rombi Serra\Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)'
'Italian actor, scriptwriter and film producer Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) posing posing with the Telegatto prize in his hand. 1988 (Photo by Rino Petrosino\Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)'
'Italian actor, scriptwriter and film producer Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) holding his grandson Alessandro in his arms during the baptism. Italy, 1992 (Photo by Rino Petrosino\Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)'
'Italian actor, scriptwriter and film producer Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) sitting on the sofa with Italian journalist Virginia Ciuffini. 1980 (Photo by Rino Petrosino\Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)'
'Italian actor, scriptwriter and film producer Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) posing clenching his fists. 1988 (Photo by Rino Petrosino\Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)'
'Italian actor, scriptwriter and film producer Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) posing smiling with American actress and model Carol Alt. 1990 (Photo by Rino Petrosino\Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)'
Italian actor Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) and American actor Michael Winslow pointing a gun in the TV series Extralarge. 1992 (Photo by Rino Petrosino\Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Spencer, Bud *31.10.1929-Schauspieler, Italien(eigentlich Carlo Pedersoli)- Portrait- 1994 (Photo by VIDALUZ/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(Bud Spencer+Double Ronald Russel in The Night Before Christmas (Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images))
Bud Spencer, Tochter Diamante Spencer, Veranstalter, Veranstalter, nach Startschuà zum 26.'Bremer 6-Tage Rennen' am 10.01.1992 in der 'Stadthalle' in Bremen, Deutschland. (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)
'Italian actor, scriptwriter and film producer Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) posing smiling with American actor, singer and dancer Philip Michael Thomas. 1996 (Photo by Rino Petrosino\Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)'
Italian actor, scriptwriter and film producer Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) sitting near the harbour. Crotone, 2001 (Photo by Rino Petrosino\Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Bud Spencer, Charity-Veranstaltung, 17. 'Unesco-Benefiz-Gala' 2009, Hotel 'Maritim', Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Deutschland, Europa, Mikro, Rede, Schauspieler, Promi, FTP, BB; P.-Nr. 1673/2009, 14.11.2009; Foto: P.Bischoff ; Jegliche Foto-Nutzung (Veröffentlichung - Print + Online - , Ausstrahlung, Layout etc.) nur gegen Honorar (lt. MFM-Empfehlungen) gemäà unseren AGB's !100178 (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)
Bud Spencer and Denise Rich at The UNESCO Charity Gala at the Maritim Hotel in Dusseldorf (Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images)
Jane Fonda ('Oscar'-Preisträgerin, Hollywood-Star), Bud Spencer (Schauspieler), (vor Düsseldorfer Karnevalsgesellschaft), Charity-Veranstaltung, 17. 'Unesco-Benefiz-Gala' 2009, Hotel 'Maritim', Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Deutschland, Europa, Party, Feier, feiern, Uniform, Kostüm, Schauspielerin, Promi, 100225, FTP, NB; P.-Nr. 1673/2009, 14.11.2009; Foto: P.Bischoff; Veröffentlichung nur gegen Honorar und Beleg!; (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)
ROME - MAY 07: Bud Spencer and Terence Hill attend the 'David Di Donatello' movie awards at the Auditorium Conciliazione on May 7, 2010 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Venturelli/WireImage)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 22: Bud Spencer signs copies of his autobiography ''Bud Spencer - Mein Leben, meine Filme' at the KaDeWe department store on June 22, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Anita Bugge/WireImage)
MUNICH, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 30: Italian actor Bud Spencer signs copies of his autobiography at Hugendubel bookstore on November 30, 2011 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 30: Italian actor Bud Spencer poses with a copy of his autobiography at Hugendubel bookstore on November 30, 2011 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
SCHWAEBISCH GMUEND, GERMANY - DECEMBER 02: Carlo Pedersoli (L) alias Bud Spencer meet his look-alike Klaus Loeffler (R) prior to a press conference on December 2, 2011 in Schwaebisch Gmuend, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images)
Bud Spencer, ZDF-Talkshow 'Markus Lanz', Hamburg-Bahrenfeld, Deutschland, Europa, Studio, Talk-Show, Schauspieler, Promi, 100336, BB, FTP; P.-Nr.: 130/2014, 04.07.2012; (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - APRIL 09: (L-R) Bud Spencer and Giorgio Albertazzi attend 'Ci Vediamo Domani' premiere at Cinema Adriano on April 9, 2013 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)
POTSDAM, GERMANY - MAY 17: Bud Spencer, Italian actor, film producer, pilot and former professional swimmer, signs copies of the German translation of his autobiography,'Mein Leben, meine Filme' ('My Life, My Films') at UCI Kinowelt on May 17, 2013 in Potsdam, Germany. Born Carlo Pedersoli near Naples in 1929, Spencer is known for his Spaghetti Western action-comedy roles. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 20: Actor Bud Spencer seen during an autograph session at the Ramada Hotel on June 20, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Chad Buchanan/Getty Images)
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He then starting taking on small parts such as playing the Praetorian Guard in MGM epic "Quo Vadis," shot in Rome's Cinecittà Studios, and subsequently appeared in strictly local potboilers.

After changing his name, Spencer teamed up in 1967 with fellow Italian Terence Hill, whose real name is Mario Girotti, and that was the game changer in both of their careers. They starred in Giuseppe Colizzi-directed Western "God Forgives...I Don't," which was followed in 1968 by "Ace High," which also starred Eli Wallach; "They Call Me Trinity" in 1970, which became Italy's top grossing title, a record they beat the following year with "Trinity is Still My Name," which was directed by Enzo Barboni.

These Spaghetti Westerns made for the international market gained legions of fans abroad for the duo, especially in Germany.

"He was an actor whom Italian cinema needs to thank because he took Italian movies around the world," Fox Italy president Osvaldo De Santis told Sky.

All told Spencer and Hill made 18 movies together which also included "The Knock Out Cop" in 1973, "Crime Busters" in 1977, and "Double Trouble" in 1984.

During the 1980s and 90's he had a very active solo career in Italian TV, including series the "Big Man," "Detective Extralarge," and in 2010 the "I Delitti del Cuoco," in which he played a retired cop who opens a restaurant on the Island of Ischia but continues to bust crimes.

In 2003 Spencer appeared in his first bona-fide dramatic role in revered Italian auteur Ermanno Olmi's "Singing Behind Screens," in which he plays an old captain who narrates the fable-like film from the deck of a large Chinese junk ship.

In 2005 Spencer briefly entered politics after then prime minister Silvio Berlusconi asked him to run as a regional councilor but he was not elected.

He is survived by his wife Maria Amato and three children, Giuseppe, Christine, and Diamante.


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