Filmmaker who helped make Arnold Schwarzenegger a star in Pumping Iron dies
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George Butler, co-director and filmmaker from Pumping Iron has died aged 78.
Butler helped cement Arnold Schwarzenegger's fame with the movie which also led him to star in the Terminator movie and the rest was history.
The documentary filmmaker passed away on October 21 of pneumonia at his home in Holderness, NH, his son has said.
Butler was born in 1942 in Chester, England, and began his career as a stills photographer.
The son of a British Army officer, he spent his childhood in Somalia and Jamaica, according to Deadline.
He studied at the University of North Carolina, and later alongside Robert Fiore, he co-directed and produced Pumping Iron.
The movie saw Schwarzenegger battle against Lou Ferrigno in a competition for the title of Mr Olympia.
The documentary also helped introduce the bodybuilder to Hollywood and his film career was born.
Butler had covered bodybuilding as a journalist in the 1970s, and worked on a book on the sport before raising money to make the film.
It raised Schwarzenegger's profile, who had scored only a few small TV and film roles at the time.
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The project showed his training at Gold's Gym in Venice, California, as he worked to defend his title.
His competitor, Ferrigno, also later had a Hollywood career himself, known as the infamous Incredible Hulk in the TV series.
The Terminator star paid tribute to the filmmaker in a tweet.
He wrote: “When I think about all of the people who were responsible for the growth of bodybuilding and the sport’s crossover to the mainstream, two of the first people to come to mind are, without any doubt, George Butler and Charles Gaines.
"Pumping Iron, the book and the movie, drew the general public into our strange little niche sport and brought fitness – and this Austrian with an unpronounceable name and a funny accent – to the masses.
"I was saddened to hear the news of George's passing. He was such a talent, he had a fantastic eye, and he was a force for the sport of bodybuilding and the fitness crusade. My thoughts are with his family."
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Butler also later made a sequel, Pumping Iron II: The Women in 1985.
Butler's later projects included Going Upriver, a movie about Senator John Kerry's naval tour in Vietnam, and The Endurance, a re-telling of Ernest Shackelton's expedition to Antarctica in 1914.
The Endurance was nominated for a BAFTA award in 2001, and Hollywood star Liam Neeson narrated the movie.
The film buff also worked on a project in 2006 called Roving Mars, looking into the Mars Exploration Rovers in space.
He directed more than 10 films during his 40-year career.
His final film, Tiger Tiger, follows a big cat conservationist into the wilds of India and Bangladesh.
Butler is survived by his companion and writer/producer Caroline Alexander, sons Desmond and Tyssen, and six grandchildren.
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