Tony with Erin Stern
As anticpated, a huge crowd showed up at St. Monica’s church in Santa Monica on Saturday to honor Tony Nowak, who passed away suddenly from a heart attack on April 6 (see previous blog). Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, with wife Maria and their children, topped the list of industry celebs who came out to give their finals respects to the 60-year-old Nowak and his family. Arnold spoke for about 10 minutes in memory of his buddy of 40 years and, as I knew he would, recalled some hilarious antecdotes. Including standing in the back of the same church each Sunday morning, talking business (like trying to set up a time when Arnold would autograph the jackets Tony made for the Arnold Classic each year) while the sermon was being given.
IRON MAN’s John Balik and Marc Missioreck were there; so was Franco Columbu, Jon Jon Park, Eddie Guiliani, Carla Ferrigno, Roger Callard, Mike Uretz and MuscleMag International photographer Bert Perry. Too many names to mention, but you get the picture. The Nowak family invited everyone to their home in Pacific Palisades after the funeral was over; I was unable to attend, but Perry told me it was quite a gathering, and couldn’t rave enough about the “beautiful” home Tony shared with wife Maria and son Enzo. Bert also told me that a DVD had been made in honor of Tony’s life, and that I was included in the photos. I consider that an honor. Thank you. I’m sorry I didn’t get to speak with Tony’s step-son, Riley, who presented me with the official contest jacket in Columbus while I was on stage emceeing the Arnold Amateur finals.
Ironically, I later found out Arnold also attended the services for famed high school teacher Jaime Escalante, who passed away last week, at East Los Angeles College before the Nowak funeral. I was at a meeting at ELAC the same time the Big Fella was at the school stadium, giving his condolences to the former Garfield High teacher whose story was told in the 1988 classic “Stand and Deliver.” Edward James Olmos, a former classmate of mine at Montebello High who received an Academy Award nomination that year for his uncanny portrayal of Escalante, was the featured speaker.
On another note, congrats to Hide Yamagishi on taking down the field at the Europa Supershow in Orlando, Florida over the weekend for his first ever pro win. Marcus Haley and Eugene Mishen nabbed a Mr. Olympia invite by placing second and third, respectively. Tony would have been very proud of you guys.