When we decided to do the article on Arnold Schwarzenegger (page 80), we knew just whom to cast in the role of the scribe. Dan Geringer, 44, writes features for the Philadelphia Daily News, many of them on film stars. Geringer also moonlights in sportswriting; two of his previous stories for SI were on a tiger tamer and a woman surfer. The Schwarzenegger assignment allowed him to blend his specialties. "This is one jock who has become a movie superstar," says Geringer, "as opposed to a jock who's in movies, like Jim Brown."
Geringer, who is a non-iron-pumping 6'4", was impressed by the 6'2", 212-pound Schwarzenegger. "He's the only person I've seen who, off the screen, looks larger than life," says Geringer. "Usually movie stars are shorter than you expect. But he's gigantic, a sort of presence. And his mind is razor-sharp."
Schwarzenegger also differed from most movie stars in another way. "If you interview 50 actors, you hear sort of the same story again and again," says Geringer. "But Arnold is like the American Dream. He had to learn English, explain about bodybuilding and make a name for himself. And it happened to him. Actors play somebody else; it's all illusion. An athlete doesn't play somebody else. He's himself."
Geringer grew up in New York City playing punchball on a concrete playground. "I had this notion that I was very fast," he says. "I think it was because I wore P.F. Flyers." Reality didn't hit home until he was the 25th player chosen for the 26-man freshman baseball team at the University of Rochester. "I was the 10th outfielder," he says, "which meant I sat on the bench." So, Geringer gave up sports to work for the school paper, the Campus-Times. After college he wrote for the Dayton Daily News, the Palm Beach Post and Ohio Magazine before moving to Philadelphia.
When he's not covering the stars for the Daily News, Geringer writes human interest features. "The last person I wrote about makes the best sweet-potato pies in Philadelphia," he says. "I guess I kind of specialize in eccentrics." Before meeting with Schwarzenegger in California, Geringer screened 10 Schwarzenegger movies in two weeks. If you're wondering whether Geringer's visit with the former Mr. Olympia gave him the urge to start lifting weights, the answer is no. "But when you get around a guy like him," he says, "you start to think it wouldn't be a bad idea."
Nonmuscleman Geringer pumping (a very little) iron.