On Halloween in 1929, Carlo Pedersoli was brought kicking and screaming into this world. And punching. I wasn't there, but I'm pretty sure that after the doctor spanked him, little Carlo brought the hammer down on that podiatrist's head before marching off to eat a skillet of beans with a wooden spoon.
Growing up in the Santa Lucia neighborhood of Naples, Pedersoli showed an interest in swimming and politics. At the age of 21 he became the first Italian to swim the 100 meter freestyle in under a minute, breaking records at 59.5 seconds. He won a medal in the 1951 Pan Mediterranean Olympics, and he also participated in the Helsinki Olympics in 1952 and the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. He also was a professional water polo player, assisting team Italy to win the Championship in 1951. Apparently born without need for sleep, while he was swimming he also graduated law school with the intent to become an attorney and started getting small parts in films.
At some time during the 1960's, Pedersoli decided he needed to change his name for the benefit of the film world and, reportedly, chose the first name of "Bud" because it amused him that a man of his size would have such a diminutive name and "Spencer" after his favorite actor, Spencer Tracy.
1967 saw the break-out hit of his film career. Given the lead role as "Huch Bessy" opposite Pietro Martellanza's "Cat Stevens" in Giuseppe Colizzi's new western GOD FORGIVES... I DON'T! (1967). It was through a stroke of misfortune that Mario Girotti, who was now known as Terence Hill, took over the role of "Stevens" after Martellanza broke his foot and had to bow out of the production.
The success of "Il Professore" lead to a similar series "Detective Extralarge", in which he plays a Miami detective named Jack "Extralarge" Costello. The series opened up the scope with the now popular Miami setting and gave him a partner, the fresh off of "Miami Vice" star, Philip Michael Thomas.
A moderate success during its initial 1984-85 season, the Florida-lensed "Miami Vice" became a full fledged neon-drenched sensation during the 1985-86 season and finished the year as the #9 most watched show (and the lone cop/action show in the top 20). Unfortunately, the attraction was short lived and soon got older than five day stubble. The series was shifted to Friday nights in its third season and ratings tumbled each successive year as a result. By the time the series was wrapping up, it finished in 61st place and the final episode aired on June 28, 1989 (an unaired episode did air in syndication in January 1990, hence the 1984-1990 airdates). Surprisingly, or not, Thomas – who began his career in theatrical features in the 1970s – was unable to parlay his work on this series back to the silver screen. While his co-star Don Johnson moved on to vehicles like THE HOT SPOT (1990) and HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN (1991), Thomas was relegated to guest appearances on syndicated shows like "Superboy" and "Zorro". It was a long way from designer Italian jackets and Ferraris, so maybe that is why an offer to co-star in an Italian TV series looked so appealing at the time. After all, nobody will see these, right?
There were so many Italian productions going on in Florida in the late '80s and early '90s, I'm amazed they didn't trip over each other. This was during Miami's sudden boom in tourism that was kicked off by the 1979 Art Deco section of South Beach being christened a historic district. "Miami Vice" capitalized on that boom and expanded it, making it seem like a stylish and glamorous destination spot... unlike the rest of Florida. The Italian TV and film productions benefited from the movie and TV friendly city while exploiting the locale. No doubt much to the relief of cast and crew members who may not have relished the idea of yet another trip into the Amazon jungles.
Meanwhile Bud Spencer wrapped up the second series of "Extralarge" and re-teamed with Terence Hill for the first time in almost a decade with the final, and surprisingly good, Trinity and Bambino film THE TROUBLEMAKERS (1993). In which nobody is named Trinity or Bambino due to copyright issues. Following that, Spencer has appeared in a few TV shows, small Italian films and in 2011, Pedersoli published his autobiography "Bud Spencer: My Life My Films". To date it has not been translated into English, though it has been translated into German. Bastards.