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My snap of Arnold Schwarzenegger 54 years ago is one I'll never forget, says former Belfast Telegraph photographer

Tele photographer recalls being sent to snap Schwarzenegger

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Lift off: Arnold Schwarzenegger with 22-year-old Sandra Burrows (left) from Belfast and 20-year-old Deirdre Cullen of Dunmurry

Lift off: Arnold Schwarzenegger with 22-year-old Sandra Burrows (left) from Belfast and 20-year-old Deirdre Cullen of Dunmurry

Fond memories: former photographer with the Belfast Telegraph Roy Smyth

Fond memories: former photographer with the Belfast Telegraph Roy Smyth

Lift off: Arnold Schwarzenegger with 22-year-old Sandra Burrows (left) from Belfast and 20-year-old Deirdre Cullen of Dunmurry

As a photographer with the Belfast Telegraph, Roy Smyth was never quite sure what the next day would bring.

But there was always one photograph he took as a young trainee which stood out in his memory - even though it's a photo he hadn't seen since the day he took it 54 years ago.

Now 78, and retired since 2004, he always remembered the name of the young 19-year-old bodybuilder who turned up at the gates of the old Belfast Telegraph office.

"Arnold Schwarzenegger," he said. "How could you forget that name. It sticks in the mind!"

In a 48-year career, even after covering Northern Ireland's heroics during the 1982 World Cup in Spain, the image, rediscovered last week as the Telegraph reported on the closure of the Park Avenue Hotel, is one that he never forgot.

"I remember it well," he said. "Ivan Dunbar ran a gym in east Belfast and I remember him hosting regular body building competitions at the Park Avenue Hotel. I remember Jack Magowan in the sports department telling me to run down to the gates as the Young Mr Universe was there and we wanted a photo of this guy who was in town.

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Fond memories: former photographer with the Belfast Telegraph Roy Smyth

Fond memories: former photographer with the Belfast Telegraph Roy Smyth

Fond memories: former photographer with the Belfast Telegraph Roy Smyth

"I had no idea who it was. Nobody had ever heard of this 19-year-old lad. But he was a hulking figure when I saw him. He didn't speak a word of English and I don't think he had a clue why he was there!

"I thought I had to try to do something different, so asked if I could borrow a couple of girls from the advertising department," said Roy.

"Two good looking girls quickly volunteered when I said there was a handsome young bodybuilder waiting for them downstairs. Sandra Burrows and Deirdre Cullen were swept off their feet when I tried to explain what I wanted and Arnie took one in each arm and hoisted them up.

"It's amazing to think what he want on to achieve in Hollywood, then becoming Governor of California. I'd always wondered what had happened to the photograph.

"It was fantastic to see it again after all these years," he said. "I thought it was gone forever. The family believe my stories now!

"Strangely enough, my daughter ended up working in Graz in Austria for a few years, where Arnie's from," said Roy, who remembers fondly his days working in the dark room at the Telegraph.

"You did see a lot of good times, but there were a lot of difficult days as well during the Troubles," he said.

"I remember having to hide the camera up my coat covering some of those events as you didn't want to be targeted.

"I was only 14 when I started as a copy boy, then graduated to the dark room before they sent me out on a few jobs.

"The photography took off from there. I think I did OK, but that young fellow I took that photograph of in, oh, about 1965 or 1966 if I remember, he did OK as well!"

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