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Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger; born July 30, 1947) is an Austrian-American bodybuilder, actor, businessman, and politician, currently serving as the 38th Governor of the state of California.
Schwarzenegger gained worldwide fame as a Hollywood action film icon. He was nicknamed the "Austrian Oak" and the "Styrian Oak" in his bodybuilding days, "Arnold Strong" and "Arnie" during his acting career, and more recently the "Governator" (a portmanteau of Governor and the Terminator, one of his film roles).
As a Republican, he was first elected on October 7, 2003, in a special recall election to replace then-Governor Gray Davis. Schwarzenegger was sworn in on November 17, 2003, to serve the remainder of Davis's term. Schwarzenegger was then re-elected on November 7, 2006, in California's 2006 gubernatorial election, to serve a full term as governor, defeating Democrat Phil Angelides, who was California State Treasurer at the time. Schwarzenegger was sworn in for a second term on January 5, 2007. In May 2004 and 2007, he was named as one of the Time 100 people who help shape the world.
Schwarzenegger is married to Maria Shriver and has four children.
Schwarzenegger was born in Thal, Austria (German: Thal bei Graz), a small village bordering the Styrian capital Graz, and was christened Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger. His parents were the local police chief Gustav Schwarzenegger (1907 – 1972), and his wife, Aurelia Jadrny (1922 – 1998). They were married on October 20, 1945 – Gustav was 38, and Aurelia was a 23-year-old widow with a son named Meinhard. According to Schwarzenegger, both of his parents were very strict: "Back then in Austria it was a very different world, if we did something bad or we disobeyed our parents, the rod was not spared." He grew up in a Roman Catholic family who attended church service every Sunday.
Gustav had a preference for Meinhard, the elder of the two sons. His favoritism was "strong and blatant," which stemmed from unfounded suspicion "that Arnold wasn’t his child." Schwarzenegger has said his father had "no patience for listening or understanding your problems… there was a wall; a real wall." Schwarzenegger had a good relationship with his mother, and kept in touch with her until her death. In later life, Schwarzenegger commissioned the Simon Wiesenthal Center to research his father's wartime record, which came up with no evidence of atrocities despite Gustav's membership in the Nazi Party and SA.At school, Schwarzenegger was apparently in the middle, but stood out for his "cheerful, good-humored and exuberant" character. Money was a problem in the household; Schwarzenegger has recalled that one of the highlights of his youth was when the family bought a refrigerator.
As a boy, Schwarzenegger played many sports—heavily influenced by his father. He picked up his first barbell in 1960, when his football coach took his team to a local gym. At the age of 14, Schwarzenegger chose bodybuilding over football (soccer) as a career. Schwarzenegger has responded to a question asking if he was age 13 when he started weightlifting: "I actually started weight training when I was fifteen, but I'd been participating in sports, like soccer, for years, so I felt that although I was slim, I was well-developed, at least enough so that I could start going to the gym and start Olympic lifting." However, his official website biography claims: "At 14, he started an intensive training program with Kurt Marnul, studied psychology at 15 (to learn more about the power of mind over body) and at 17, officially started his competitive career." During a speech in 2001, he said, "My own plan formed when I was 14 years old. My father had wanted me to be a police officer like he was. My mother wanted me to go to trade school."Schwarzenegger took to visiting a gym in Graz, where he also frequented the local movie theaters to see bodybuilding idols such as Reg Park, Steve Reeves, and Johnny Weissmuller on the big screen. "I was inspired by individuals like Reg Park and Steve Reeves." When Reeves passed away in 2000, Schwarzenegger fondly remembered him: "As a teenager, I grew up with Steve Reeves. His remarkable accomplishments allowed me a sense of what was possible, when others around me didn't always understand my dreams ... Steve Reeves has been part of everything I've ever been fortunate enough to achieve."[ In 1961, Schwarzenegger met former Mr. Austria Kurt Marnul, who invited him to train at the gym in Graz. He was so dedicated as a youngster that he was known to break into the local gym on weekends, when it was usually closed, so that he could train. "It would make me sick to miss a workout … I knew I couldn't look at myself in the mirror the next morning if I didn't do it." When Schwarzenegger was asked about his first movie experience as a boy, he replied, "I was very young, but I remember my father taking me to the Austrian theaters and seeing some newsreels. The first real movie I saw, that I distinctly remember, was a John Wayne movie."
In 1971, his brother Meinhard died in a car accident. Meinhard had been drinking and was killed instantly, and Schwarzenegger did not attend his funeral. Meinhard was due to marry Erika Knapp, and the couple shared a three-year-old son Patrick. Schwarzenegger would pay for Patrick's education and a life in the United States. Gustav died the following year from a stroke. In Pumping Iron, Schwarzenegger claimed that he did not attend his father's funeral because he was training for a bodybuilding contest. Later, he and the film's producer both stated that this story was taken from another bodybuilder for the purpose of showing the extremes that some would go to for their sport, and to make Schwarzenegger's image more cold and machine-like to fan controversy for the film. Barbara Baker, his first serious girlfriend, has said he informed her of his father's death without emotion and that he never spoke of his brother. Over time, he has given at least three versions of why he did not attend his father's funeral.
In an interview with Fortune magazine in 2004, Schwarzenegger told how he suffered what "would now be called child abuse" at the hands of his father. "My hair was pulled. I was hit with belts. So was the kid next door. It was just the way it was. Many of the children I've seen were broken by their parents, which was the German-Austrian mentality. They didn't want to create an individual. It was all about conforming. I was one who did not conform, and whose will could not be broken. Therefore, I became a rebel. Every time I got hit, and every time someone said, 'you can't do this,' I said, 'this is not going to be for much longer, because I'm going to move out of here. I want to be rich. I want to be somebody.' "
Schwarzenegger served in the Austrian army in 1965 to fulfill the one year of service required at the time of all 18-year-old Austrian males. He won the Junior Mr. Europe contest in 1965. Schwarzenegger went AWOL during basic training so that he could take part in the competition and spent a week in an army jail: "Participating in the competition meant so much to me that I didn't carefully think through the consequences. When I got to Stuttgart, I was all confused. I forgot my posing routine, I had to borrow posing trunks, but still I won!" Contrary to popular belief, it was not Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding debut, which had occurred two years earlier at a minor contest in Graz, at Steirer Hof Hotel (where he had placed second). He was voted best built man of Europe, which made him famous.
"The Mr. Universe title was my ticket to America – the land of opportunity, where I could become a star and get rich." Schwarzenegger made his first plane trip in 1966, attending the NABBA Mr. Universe competition in London.[ He would come in second in the Mr. Universe competition, not having the muscle definition of American winner Chester Yorton.
Charles "Wag" Bennett, one of the judges at the 1966 competition, was impressed with Schwarzenegger and offered to coach him. As Schwarzenegger had little money, Bennett invited him to stay in his crowded family home above one of his two gyms in Forest Gate. Yorton's leg definition had been judged superior, and Schwarzenegger, under a training program devised by Bennett, concentrated on improving the muscle definition and power in his legs. Staying in the East End of London helped Schwarzenegger improve his rudimentary grasp of the English language. The training paid off and in 1967 Schwarzenegger won the title for the first time in 1967, becoming the youngest ever Mr. Universe at the age of 20. He would go on to win the title a further four times. Schwarzenegger then flew back to Munich, training for four to six hours daily, attending business school and working in a health club (Rolf Putzinger's gym where he worked and trained from 1966-1968), returning in 1968 to London to win his next Mr. Universe title. He frequently told Roger C. Field, a friend in Munich at that time "I'm going to become the greatest actor!"
Schwarzenegger moved to the United States in September 1968 at the age of 21, speaking little English. "Naturally, when I came to this country, my accent was very bad, and my accent was also very strong, which was an obstacle as I began to pursue acting." There he trained at Gold's Gym in Santa Monica, California, under Joe Weider. From 1970 to 1974, one of Schwarzenegger's weight training partners was Ric Drasin, a professional wrestler who designed the original Gold's Gym logo in 1973. Schwarzenegger also became good friends with professional wrestler "Superstar" Billy Graham. In 1970, at age 23, he captured his first Mr. Olympia title in New York, and would go on to win the title a total of seven times.
Schwarzenegger may have been an illegal immigrant at some point in the late 1960s or early 1970s due to violations in the terms of his visa.
In 1969, Schwarzenegger met Barbara Outland Baker, an English teacher he lived with until 1974. Schwarzenegger talked about Barbara in his memoir in 1977: "Basically it came down to this: she was a well-balanced woman who wanted an ordinary, solid life, and I was not a well-balanced man, and hated the very idea of ordinary life." Baker has described Schwarzenegger as "a joyful personality, totally charismatic, adventurous, and athletic" but claims towards the end of the relationship he became "insufferable – classically conceited – the world revolved around him." Baker published her memoir in 2006, entitled Arnold and Me: In the Shadow of the Austrian Oak. Although Baker, at times, paints an unflattering portrait of her former lover – Schwarzenegger actually contributed to the tell-all book with a foreword, and also met with Baker for three hours. Baker claims, for example, that she only learned of his being unfaithful after they split, and talks of a turbulent and passionate love life. Schwarzenegger has made it clear that their respective recollection of events can differ. The couple first met six to eight months after his arrival in the U.S. – their first date was watching the first Apollo Moon landing on television. They shared an apartment in Santa Monica for three and a half years, and having little money, would visit the beach all day, or have barbecues in the back yard. Although Baker claims that when she first met him, he had "little understanding of polite society" and she found him a turn-off, she says, "He's as much a self-made man as it's possible to be – he never got encouragement from his parents, his family, his brother. He just had this huge determination to prove himself, and that was very attractive ... I'll go to my grave knowing Arnold loved me."
Schwarzenegger met his next love, Sue Moray, a Beverly Hills hairdresser's assistant, on Venice Beach in July 1977. According to Moray, the couple led an open relationship: "We were faithful when we were both in LA...but when he was out of town, we were free to do whatever we wanted." Schwarzenegger met Maria Shriver at the Robert F. Kennedy Tennis Tournament in August 1977, and went on to have a relationship with both women until August 1978, when Moray (who knew of his relationship with Shriver) issued an ultimatum.
Schwarzenegger has said his big dream from the age of 10 was to move to the U.S. He questioned what he was doing "on the farm" in Austria, and believed bodybuilding was his "ticket to America": "I’m sure I can go to America if I win Mr. Universe." LA Weekly said in 2002 that Schwarzenegger is the most famous immigrant in America, who "overcame a thick Austrian accent and transcended the unlikely background of bodybuilding to become the biggest movie star in the world in the 1990s.
Schwarzenegger is considered among the most important figures in the history of bodybuilding, and his legacy is commemorated in the Arnold Classic annual bodybuilding competition. Schwarzenegger has remained a prominent face in the bodybuilding sport long after his retirement, in part because of his ownership of gyms and fitness magazines. He has presided over numerous contests and awards shows. For many years, he wrote a monthly column for the bodybuilding magazines Muscle & Fitness and Flex. Shortly after being elected Governor, he was appointed executive editor of both magazines, in a largely symbolic capacity. The magazines agreed to donate $250,000 a year to the Governor's various physical fitness initiatives. The magazine MuscleMag International has a monthly two-page article on him, and refers to him as "The King."
One of the first competitions he won was the Junior Mr. Europe contest in 1965. He won Mr. Europe the following year, at age 19. He would go on to compete in and win many bodybuilding contests, as well as some powerlifting contests, including five Mr. Universe (4 – NABBA [England], 1 – IFBB [USA]) wins, and seven Mr. Olympia wins, a record which would stand until Lee Haney won his eighth consecutive Mr. Olympia title in 1991.
In 1967, Schwarzenegger competed in and won the Munich stone-lifting contest, in which a stone weighing 508 German pounds (254 kg/560 lbs.) is lifted between the legs while standing on two foot rests. Schwarzenegger has said the following on his size: "During the peak of my career, my calves were 20 inches, thighs 28.5 inches, waist 34 inches, chest 57 inches, and 22-inch arms."
In a full squat (buttocks close to ground) Schwarzenegger had a personal record of 181 kg/400lbs, for twelve repetitions.
Schwarzenegger's goal was to become the greatest bodybuilder in the world, which meant becoming Mr. Olympia. His first attempt was in 1969, when he lost to three-time champion Sergio Oliva. However, Schwarzenegger came back in 1970 and won the competition making him the youngest ever Mr. Olympia at the age of 23, a record he holds to this day.
He continued his winning streak in the 1971 – 1974 competitions. In 1975, Schwarzenegger was once again in top form, and won the title for the sixth consecutive time, beating Franco Columbu. After the 1975 Mr. Olympia contest, Schwarzenegger announced his retirement from professional bodybuilding.
Months before the 1975 Mr. Olympia contest, filmmakers George Butler and Robert Fiore persuaded Schwarzenegger to compete, in order to film his training in the bodybuilding documentary called Pumping Iron. Schwarzenegger had only three months to prepare for the competition, after losing significant weight to appear in the film Stay Hungry with Jeff Bridges. Lou Ferrigno proved not to be a threat, and a lighter-than-usual Schwarzenegger convincingly won the 1975 Mr. Olympia. After being declared Mr. Olympia for a sixth consecutive time, Schwarzenegger retired from competition.
Schwarzenegger came out of retirement, however, to compete in the 1980 Mr. Olympia.Schwarzenegger was training for his role in Conan, and he got into such good shape because of the running, horseback riding, and sword training, that he decided he wanted to win the Mr. Olympia contest one last time. He kept this plan a secret, in the event that a training accident would prevent his entry and cause him to lose face. Schwarzenegger had been hired to provide color commentary for network television, when he announced at the eleventh hour that while he was there: "Why not compete?" Schwarzenegger ended up winning the event with only seven weeks of preparation. After being declared Mr. Olympia for a seventh time, Schwarzenegger officially retired from competition.
Schwarzenegger has admitted to using performance-enhancing anabolic steroids while they were legal, writing in 1967 that "steroids were helpful to me in maintaining muscle size while on a strict diet in preparation for a contest. I did not use them for muscle growth, but rather for muscle maintenance when cutting up." He has called the drugs "tissue building."
In 1999, Schwarzenegger sued Dr. Willi Heepe, a German doctor who publicly predicted an early death for the bodybuilder, based on a link between steroid use and later heart problems. Because the doctor had never examined him personally, Schwarzenegger collected a DM20,000 ($12,000 USD) libel judgment against him in a German court. In 1999, Schwarzenegger also sued and settled with The Globe, a U.S. tabloid which had made similar predictions about the bodybuilder's future health. As late as 1996, a year before open heart surgery to replace an aortic valve with a human homograft valve, Schwarzenegger publicly defended his use of anabolic steroids during his bodybuilding career.
Schwarzenegger was born with a bicuspid aortic valve, an aortic valve with only two leaflets (a normal aortic valve has three leaflets). Both his father and his brother had the same condition.
Schwarzenegger wanted to move from bodybuilding into acting, finally achieving it when he was chosen to play the role of Hercules in 1970's Hercules in New York. Credited under the name "Arnold Strong," his accent in the film was so thick that his lines were dubbed after production. His second film appearance was as a deaf and mute hit-man for the mob in director Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye (1973), which was followed by a much more significant part in the film Stay Hungry (1976), for which he was awarded a Golden Globe for New Male Star of the Year. Schwarzenegger has discussed his early struggles in developing his acting career. "It was very difficult for me in the beginning – I was told by agents and casting people that my body was 'too weird,' that I had a funny accent, and that my name was too long. You name it, and they told me I had to change it. Basically, everywhere I turned, I was told that I had no chance."
Schwarzenegger drew attention and boosted his profile in the bodybuilding film Pumping Iron (1977), elements of which were dramatized. In 1991, Schwarzenegger purchased the rights to the film, its outtakes, and associated still photography. Schwarzenegger auditioned for the title role of The Incredible Hulk, but did not win the role due to his height. Later, Lou Ferrigno got the part of Dr. David Banner's alter ego. Schwarzenegger appeared with Kirk Douglas and Ann-Margret in the 1979 comedy The Villain.
Schwarzenegger's breakthrough film was the mythical epic Conan the Barbarian in 1982, which was a box-office hit. This was followed by a sequel, Conan the Destroyer in 1984, although its performance was disappointing.In 1983, Schwarzenegger starred in the promotional video "Carnival in Rio".
In 1984, he made the first of three appearances as the titular character in director James Cameron's science-fiction film The Terminator. Following The Terminator, Schwarzenegger made Red Sonja in 1985, which "sank without a trace."
During the 1980s, audiences had a large appetite for action films, with both Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone becoming international stars. Schwarzenegger's roles reflected his droll, often self-deprecating sense of humor (including sometimes famously bad puns), separating his roles from more serious action hero fare. His alternative-universe comedy/thriller Last Action Hero featured a poster of the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day which, in the fictional alternate universe, had Sylvester Stallone as its star.
Following his arrival as a Hollywood superstar, he made a number of successful films: Commando (1985), Raw Deal (1986), The Running Man (1987), and Red Heat (1988). In Predator (1987), another successful film, Schwarzenegger led a cast which included future Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura (Ventura also appeared in The Running Man and Batman and Robin with Schwarzenegger) and future Kentucky Gubernatorial candidate Sonny Landham.
Twins (1988), a comedy with Danny DeVito, was a change of pace, and also proved successful. Total Recall (1990) netted Schwarzenegger $10 million and 15% of the gross, and was a widely praised, science-fiction script directed by Paul Verhoeven, based on the Philip K. Dick short story, "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale". Kindergarten Cop (1990) reunited him with director Ivan Reitman, who directed him in Twins.
Schwarzenegger had a brief foray into directing, first with a 1990 episode of the TV series Tales from the Crypt, entitled "The Switch," and then with the 1992 telemovie Christmas in Connecticut. He has not directed since.
Schwarzenegger's commercial high-water mark was the 1991 sequel to his 1984 hit The Terminator: Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which was one of the highest-grossing films of the year. In 1993, the National Association of Theatre Owners named him the "International Star of the Decade." His next film project, the 1993 self-aware action comedy spoof Last Action Hero was released opposite Jurassic Park, with the box office suffering accordingly. His next film, the action comedy True Lies (1994) was a highly popular send-up of spy films, and saw Schwarzenegger, reunited with The Terminator director James Cameron, appearing opposite Jamie Lee Curtis.
Shortly thereafter came the comedy Junior (1994), directed by Twins director Ivan Reitman and again playing opposite co-star Danny DeVito. This film brought Schwarzenegger his second Golden Globe nomination, this time for Best Actor – Musical or Comedy|Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. It was followed by the action thriller Eraser (1996), and the comic book-based Batman & Robin (1997), where he played the villain Mr Freeze. This was his final film before taking time to recuperate from a back injury. Following the failure of Batman & Robin, Schwarzenegger's film career and box office prominence went into decline.
Several film projects were announced with Schwarzenegger attached to star, including the remake of Planet of the Apes, a new film version of I Am Legend, and a World War II film scripted by Quentin Tarantino that would have seen Schwarzenegger play an Austrian.
Instead, he returned after a hiatus with the supernatural thriller End of Days (1999), later followed by the action films The 6th Day (2000) and Collateral Damage (2002). In 2003, he reprised his role in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which went on to earn over $150 million domestically.
In tribute to Schwarzenegger in 2002, Forum Stadtpark, a local cultural association, proposed plans to build a 25-meter (82-foot) tall Terminator statue in a park in central Graz. Schwarzenegger reportedly said he was flattered, but thought the money would be better spent on social projects and the Special Olympics.
His latest film appearances included a 3-second cameo appearance in The Rundown (AKA, Welcome to the Jungle) with The Rock, and the 2004 remake of Around the World in 80 Days, where he appeared onscreen with action star Jackie Chan for the first time.
Schwarzenegger voiced Baron von Steuben in Episode 24 ("Valley Forge") of Liberty's Kids.