Larry Scott: My Hero, My Friend

Larry Scott's close friend remembers the bodybuilding legend.


Larry Scott: My Hero, My Friend

Just like most of you I learned of Larry’s passing on Saturday, March 8th. In the interim most of my thoughts have been of his life and how he affected mine. In 1968 there were only a handful of us that worked out. Bodybuilding was still a subculture that few knew of and most made fun of. We walked to the Dixie Pony Keg every month to purchase the latest Muscle/Builder and Mr. America magazines. We read those things from cover to cover and of course, along the way we discovered our own personal favorites. You know, the guys we could emulate, copying their training routines, diets, etc. Of course you know by now that Larry was the man that I gravitated to. He was after all Mr. Olympia and probably the coolest guy on the planet. I believe that Charisma was his middle name. No doubt, I could be just like him, piece of cake. KINDA DOUBT IT!!! We continued to hit the weights throughout high school and achieved pretty good results. By 1972 my best friend Bill Bowling and I were the only two left and after landing full time jobs at our local paper mill, plus tying the knot with our better halves the bodybuilding life style was now in our rear view mirrors! Not that we quit altogether, but the workouts were now less intense and spaced farther and farther apart. Through it all I continued to buy Joes magazines. After all, deep inside I was still a Weider Wildcat.

It was 1977 and I got the fever again. By this time we owned our own home and I had plenty of room for my own gym. The latest rumor that my bodybuilding hero, Larry Scott was making a comeback was all the incentive I needed. In fact it was advertised in Muscle/Builder that Larry was now available for seminars. I talked it up with a couple of guys at work and decided to go for it. Thanks in large part to my wife Gwenda; the seminar would soon become a reality. She contacted Larry’s wife Rachel for all the vital information. A couple of days later Larry called for any follow up questions. After coming out of shock I asked all the questions that I thought were feasible, but saved the best for last, would you prefer staying in a hotel or our home? Larry said he would prefer to stay with us if we had the room. Are you kidding me? If this is a dream, don’t wake me up! On June 16th, 1978 we met Larry at the airport and I swear he looked just like he did when he won the Olympia, sans the blonde hair. We went home, had dinner and talked about anything under the sun .Religion; bodybuilding, music and Larry’s family were some of the topics of conversation. The next day after breakfast Larry played with our two little girls and their talking Mickey Mouse and then it was off to the seminar. Everything went off without a hitch. Larry posed to the Ten Commandments theme and then the seminar began. Everyone in attendance had a great time! Autographs were signed, pictures were taken and then it was time to go. Larry wished my wife well and good luck on the possibility of having a boy. She was just days away from delivery. We arrived at the airport with time to spare and he thanked my buddy and me for all the hospitality shown to him. He also told me to let him know about the baby. And with that my brush with greatness was over or so I thought.

Our last child and only son was born a few days later! In honor of Larry we named him Scott. I called Larry with the news and I recall that he was deeply touched. A few days later we received a letter from Larry, congratulating us and telling us how honored he was at our choice of names. A few months later Larry informed me that he was asked to guest pose at the next Mr. Olympia in Columbus. He asked if we would be there and possibly meet up with one another. I had attended the 76 and 77 contest and there was no way that I would miss this one. We arrived at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium about an hour early. In those days the bodybuilders had their booths one floor down from the lobby and believe me it was packed. All of a sudden I heard my name yelled out, it was Larry smiling and motioning me over. He asked about the family and made mention of a possible lift back to the hotel after the show. One of my buddies asked him if there was any way we could get some autographs backstage after the show. Larry said he would try and with that we found our seats and witnessed another great contest. Frank Zane won the title for the second time in a row. A great champion and a real class act. In my mind however, the real highlight of this evening was the guest posers. Bill Pearl was the first called out and I’m telling you this guy was awesome, but the first Mr. Olympia was standing in the wings.

When the silhouette of Larry lit up and Len Bosland said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, see if you remember this guy” the crowd went nuts! I believe Larry received a six-minute standing ovation!!! Many including myself thought this could have been Larry’s night, but I think he was just testing the waters. After the show we drove to the back of the building to pickup Larry. There was a lot of people coming and going, competitors, vendors and security and then we seen a smiling Larry Scott. He said he still needed a ride, but he couldn’t get any backstage passes. Suddenly he pulls out these cards with a picture of Arnold dressed like John Travolta. I had no idea what they were until Larry said that they were tickets to the dinner/after party. What? Did I hear that correctly or did Christmas just come early. There was just one small obstacle, Larry had a few of his buds’  that needed a ride .Hey ,the more the merrier, so we proceeded  to fit myself, my two friends, Larry, Bob Sweeney, Richard Baldwin and his wife into my Buick Century. Guess what? We did it! We piled out of the car at the Columbus Sheraton and headed for the lobby. At the bottom of the escalator was Joe Weider telling everyone where to go. We went into the ballroom and claimed our seats. I couldn’t believe what was happening, I mean I’m sitting here having dinner with Larry on one side and Joe Weider directly across the table from us. As I recall most of the competitors were there as was Bill Pearl, Arnold and of course the winner of the night’s event Frank Zane and his beautiful wife Christine. This was a once in a lifetime experience, but soon it was time for us to go. I thanked Larry for what he did, but before we left Larry asked me if I would be interested in another seminar in December? You bet I would and with that we shook hands and got in the car and headed for Cincinnati.

We held another seminar in early December with great success, with Larry once again staying at our home. The only glitch was during Larry’s flight arrival. I parked in a 15 minute zone, while his plane was 30minutes late due to bad weather. When we went outside and I kid you not my car was just about to be towed off! I was frantic, but Larry calmly explained to the driver what had happened. Long story short it all got resolved and we finally arrived for the seminar 40 minutes late. Nerve racking then, funny now. A great year ended, but the friendship that was started in June of that year remained. In 1979 I wanted to express how I felt about Larry with a tribute piece, so I submitted it to Joe for publication. Imagine my surprise when Joe said that he would love to honor Larry with my article. Unbelievable! In the years that followed we stayed in contact at least 2 to 3 times a year with either phone calls or letters. When my son was about 5 years old, Larry was in Cincinnati for a Gold’s Gym opening. We hung out with him for a while until owners of the gym had to whisk him back to the airport for his flight home.

As the Arnold Fitness Expo grew in popularity so did the chances of rubbing elbows with the all-time greats of bodybuilding. You could run into the great Dave Draper, Reg Park, Sergio or Frank Zane, and more times than not Larry Scott. Of course that was the main reason we drove those 100 miles north, to see our old friend, to touch base in person and to purchase something from his booth. That was an event in itself because Larry was a very generous man. When I would counter with “Larry I can’t accept that” he would say “Greg, that’s what friends do” He was quite a guy. The last time we saw Larry was at the 2007 Arnold Expo. The last time I spoke to him was April 2012 right after his diagnosis was made public and when I hung up I knew I would never hear this great mans voice again .In a letter that Larry sent in 1993 he wrote, remember to spread happiness wherever you go, not when….and whether it was a handshake, a photograph, advice or just a warm smile Larry spread that happiness to all of us. 

He was my friend, He was my hero.