MILAN (Reuters) - Italian actor and filmmaker Bud Spencer died on Monday at age 86, national media reported.

"My father died peacefully at 18:15 and did not suffer from pain, he had all of us next to him and his last words were 'Thank you'," his son and film producer Giuseppe Pedersoli said in a note to media. Pedersoli could not be immediately reached for additional comment.

A post on his official Facebook page read, "With our deepest regrets, we have to tell you that Bud is flying to his next journey".

Born Carlo Pedersoli in the southern city of Naples, he was known to his public as the "big friendly giant" of the screen due to his height and weight.

He played in action and comedy films in the 1970s and 1980s, mostly working at the side of his friend Terence Hill.

Often cast as a cowboy or policeman, his biggest successes included "They Call Me Trinity", a parody of Spaghetti Western movies, the "Flatfoot" films and "A friend is a Treasure."

He had many fans abroad, especially in South America where he lived at various times in his life, and in Germany.

Speaking to channel SKY TG24, Osvaldo De Santis, president of 20th Century Fox in Italy, said, "He was an actor whom Italian cinema needs to thank because he brought Italian movies around the world."

Before turning to acting, Spencer was a professional swimmer and the first Italian to swim the 100 metres freestyle in less than one minute. He twice participated in Olympic games.

On several occasions he said he sympathized with the country's centre/right parties and also ran for the Rome area regional elections in 2005 with Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party.

(Reporting by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Toni Reinhold)