Franco died Friday, with reports out of Italy saying the legendary bodybuilder lost his life in an incident at sea in his native Sardinia.
Arnold said goodbye to Franco with a heartfelt message ... writing, "I love you Franco. 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."
I love you Franco. 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. https://t.co/X3GhZKlgAd
Franco won Mr. Olympia way back in 1976, the year after Arnold retired from the famous bodybuilding competition. Franco won again in 1981, the year after Arnold's comeback win.
In addition to his success as a bodybuilder, weightlifter and boxer, Franco also had a long career acting on TV and in movies.
One of Franco's most famous movie moment was in the 1977 documentary, "Pumping Iron" ... when he lifted a car to help the driver escape a tiny parking spot.
Franco also appeared in a string of Schwarzenegger movies in the 1980s ... including, "The Terminator," "The Running Man," and "Conan the Barbarian."
Franco and Arnold met in Munich 54 years ago, and instantly became pals ... in later years, Franco was known as Arnold's squire, and Arnold always told people Franco was the strongest man he ever knew.
Franco is survived by his wife, Deborah, and their daughter, Maria. He was 78.