Arnold Schwarzenegger praises Jack LaLanne at service

Tue Feb 1, 2011 7:35pm EST
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Bodybuilding champion, actor and ex-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger praised the late fitness guru Jack LaLanne on Tuesday as a "saint" for inspiring millions of people to stay healthy and avoid sickness.

Schwarzenegger spoke at a music and joke filled memorial in Los Angeles celebrating the life of LaLanne, who died at age 96 on January 23 of respiratory failure from pneumonia.

During the service, LaLanne was described as a sometimes eccentric fitness personality who sang out loud in public, worked out in his 90s and clutched an exercise weight on his deathbed.

He opened the first modern health club in 1936 and became a fixture of TV in 1959 when he began starring in a fitness show. Dressed in a close-fitting jumpsuit, he would exhort housewives to exercise and eat right.

Schwarzenegger, who won the Mr. Universe title for his bodybuilding long before he became a Hollywood movie star and politician, told the crowd of around 500 mourners that LaLanne, the son of French immigrants, should be considered a saint for inspiring people to exercise and avoid sugar and fatty foods.

"Can you imagine how many millions of people he saved from going to the hospital in the first place or dying in the first place?" Schwarzenegger said.

"That is why I say that Jack LaLanne is a saint," he said.

ANOTHER WORK OUT   Continued...