Schwarzenegger was born in Thal, Austria, a town bordering the Styrian capital, Graz, and christened Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger. His parents were the local police chief Gustav Schwarzenegger (1907-1972), and his wife, the former Aurelia Jadrny (1922-1998), who had been married on October 20, 1945, when he was 38 and she was 23 and widowed. Arnold had a good relationship with his mother and kept in touch with her until her death.
Gustav was a strict and demanding father, who generally favored the elder of his two sons, Meinhard.
Meinhard died in a car accident in 1971, and Gustav died the following year. In Pumping Iron, Schwarzenegger claimed his reason for not attending his father's funeral was that he was training for a bodybuilding contest, although both he and the film's producer later stated that this story was taken from another bodybuilder, for the purpose of showing the extremes that some would go to for their sport.
As a boy, Schwarzenegger played many sports, but discovered his passion for bodybuilding when in his mid-teens his soccer coach took the team for weight training. He attended a gym in Graz, where he also frequented the local cinemas, viewing his idols such as musclemen Reg Park, Steve Reeves, and Johnny Weissmuller on the big screen.
Schwarzenegger served in the Austrian army in 1965, to fulfill the one-year service requirement expected at the time of all 18 year old Austrian males. During this year he sneaked off the base to compete in his first bodybuilding competition, the junior division of Mr. Europe, where he won first place. He was punished for sneaking off, but the respect he gained from his superiors was obvious: his drill sergeant once yelled at a group of soldiers, "Why don't you be more like Schwarzenegger!"
Schwarzenegger left Thal for a job managing a gym in Munich, Germany, while continuing his bodybuilding. He made his first plane trip in 1966, attending the NABBA Mr. Universe competition being held in London. He arrived in England knowing little English, and it was here he first started being referred to as The Austrian Oak (or The Styrian Oak), due to his large build and the story of him performing chin ups from the limb of an Oak tree on the banks of the river Thalersee, the lake of his hometown. He would come in second in the competition, but would win the title the next year, becoming the youngest ever Mr. Universe (at age 20).
Schwarzenegger moved to the United States in September of 1968, with little money or knowledge of the English language, and trained at Gold's Gym in Santa Monica under the patronage of Joe Weider. It is here where Schwarzenegger became good friends with professional wrestler, "Superstar" Billy Graham.
During this time, his 1977 autobiography Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder was published. Also in 1977, Arnold Schwarzenegger declared, "Milk is for babies" in Pumping Iron, the documentary about bodybuilders that launched the Austrian's superstar career. He earned a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Superior, where he graduated with degrees in international marketing of fitness and business administration in 1979.
Schwarzenegger became a U.S. citizen in 1983, although he also retains his Austrian citizenship.
In 1986, Schwarzenegger married TV journalist Maria Shriver, niece of the late President of the United States John F. Kennedy. The couple have four children: daughters Katherine (born December 13, 1989) and Christina (b. July 23, 1991), and sons Patrick (b.September 18, 1993) and Christopher (b. September 27, 1997).
Body Building Career
Schwarzenegger first gained fame as a bodybuilder. One of the first competitions he won was Junior Mr. Europe. He would go on to compete in and win many bodybuilding (as well as some powerlifting) contests, including 4 NABBA Mr. Universe wins and 7 Mr. Olympia wins, a record which would remain until Lee Haney won his eighth straight Mr. Olympia title in 1991.
In 1967 Schwarzenegger won the Munich stone lifting contest in which a stone weighing 508 German pounds, approximately 560 English pounds, is lifted between the legs while standing on two foot rests. Arnold broke the existing record, winning the contest. Schwarzenegger's goal was to become the greatest bodybuilder in the world, which meant becoming Mr. Olympia.
His first attempt was in 1969 where he lost to three-time champion Sergio Oliva. However Schwarzenegger came back in 1970 and convincingly won the competition.
Schwarzenegger continued to dominate in the 1971, 1972, and 1973 competions, winning the Olympia with no real competition. In 1974, Schwarzenegger was once again in top form and won the title for the fifth consecutive time opposite Lou Ferrigno, who was the first possible threat to Schwarzenegger's reign since Oliva. After the 1974 Olympia, Schwarzenegger announced his retirement from professional bodybuilding.
However, George Butler and Charles Gaines convinced him to compete one more time so they could make 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. Ferrigno proved to not be a threat and a lighter than usual Schwarzenegger convincingly won the 1975 Olympia. After being declared Mr. Olympia for a sixth consecutive time Schwarzenegger once again retired from competition.
However, Schwarzenegger came out of retirement once more to compete in the 1980 Mr. Olympia. Mike Mentzer was defeated in this competition, despite being on his best ever form (a fact which caused him to leave the world of bodybuilding). Schwarzenegger was a late entry and won with only eight weeks of preparation. At the time, this lead to some controversy, some claiming that the Olympia had become a "popularity contest" rather than an objectivly judged competition.
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 due to 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".
Schwarzenegger's first political appointment was to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, on which he served from 1990 to 1993. He was nominated by George H. W. Bush, who called him Conan the Republican.
Schwarzenegger has reportedly won his first of seven Mr. Olympia title in 1970 with the help of Dianabol. He has admitted to using performance-enhancing anabolic steroids while they were legal, writing in 1977 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." However, some bodybuilders who used the same steroid cocktails as Schwarzenegger in the 1970s dispute the notion that they were used merely for "muscle maintenance". Even Schwarzenegger 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 DM 20,000 ($12,000 USD) libel judgment against him in a German court. In 1999 Schwarzenegger also sued and settled with Globe Magazine, 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, Schwarzenegger publicly defended his use of anabolic steroids during his bodybuilding career.
Schwarzenegger was born with a bicuspid aortic valve; a normal aorta has three leaflets. According to a spokesman, Schwarzenegger has not used anabolic steroids since 1990 when they were made illegal.
By the age of 22, Schwarzenegger was a millionaire, well before his career in Hollywood. His financial independence came from a series of successful business ventures and investments:
In 1968, Schwarzenegger and fellow bodybuilder Franco Columbu started a bricklaying business. The business flourished both because of the pair's marketing savvy and increased demand following a major Los Angeles earthquake in 1971
Mail Order Business
Schwarzenegger and Columbu used profits from their bricklaying venture to start a mail order business, selling bodybuilding and fitness-related equipment and instructional tapes.
Schwarzenegger rolled profits from the mail order business and his bodybuilding competition winnings into his first real estate venture: an apartment building he purchased for $10,000. He would go on to invest in a number of real estate holding companies.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was a founding "celebrity investor" in the Planet Hollywood chain of international theme restaurants (modeled after the Hard Rock Cafe) along with Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Demi Moore. Schwarzenegger severed his financial ties with the business in 2000.
Schwarzenegger had long planned to move from bodybuilding into a career in acting, as had done many of his idols, such as Reg Park. Initially he had trouble breaking into films due to his long surname, large muscles, and foreign accent, but was eventually chosen to play the role of Hercules (as both Reg Park and Steve Reeves had done) in Hercules in New York (1970).
Credited under the name "Arnold Strong", his accent in the film was so thick that his lines had to be dubbed after production. His second film appearance was as a deaf and mute hitman 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 Best New Male Star.
Schwarzenegger came to the attention of more people in the documentary Pumping Iron (1977), elements of which were dramatized. In 1991, Schwarzenegger purchased the rights to this film, its outtakes, and associated still photography. The 6'2" Schwarzenegger's breakthrough film was Conan the Barbarian (1982), and this was cemented by a sequel, Conan the Destroyer (1984). As an actor, he is best-known as the title character of director James Cameron's cyborg thriller The Terminator (1984). Schwarzenegger's acting ability (described by one critic as having an emotional range that "stretches from A almost to B") has long been the butt of many jokes; he retains a strong Austrian accent in his speech even in roles which do not call for such an accent. However, few of the fans of his work seem to care.
He also made a mark for injecting his films with a droll, often self-deprecating sense of humor, setting him apart from more serious action heroes such as Sylvester Stallone. (As an aside, his alternative-universe comedy/thriller Last Action Hero featured a poster of the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day which, in that alternate universe had Sylvester Stallone as its star; a similar in-joke in Twins suggested that the two actors might one day co-star, something which has yet to come to pass).
Following his arrival as a Hollywood superstar, he made a number of commercially successful films: Commando (1985), Raw Deal (1986), The Running Man (1987), and Red Heat (1988). In Predator (1987), another commercially successful film, Schwarzenegger led a cast which included future Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura (Ventura also appears in Running Man) and future Kentucky Gubernatorial Candidate Sonny Landham. Twins, (1988) a comedy with Danny DeVito, was a change of pace. Total Recall (1990), at that time the most expensive film ever, netted Schwarzenegger $10 million and 15% of the gross, and was a widely praised, thought-provoking science-fiction script (based on the Phillip K Dick short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale) behind his usual violent action. Kindergarten Cop (1990) was another comeddy.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 critical and commercial high-water mark was Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). His next film project, the self-aware action comedy Last Action Hero, (1993), had the misfortune to be released opposite Jurassic Park, and suffered accordingly. Schwarzenegger's career never again achieved quite the same prominence, his aura of box-office invincibility suffering, although True Lies (1994) was a highly popular sendup of spy films, and saw Schwarzenegger reunited with director James Cameron, whose own career had taken off with The Terminator.
Shortly thereafter came Junior, which brought Schwarzenegger his second Golden Globe nomination, this time for Best Actor - Musical or Comedy. It was followed by the popular, albeit by-the-numbers Eraser (1996), and Batman & Robin (1997), 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 finally play an Austrian.
Instead he returned with End of Days (1999) - an unsuccessful and atypically dark attempt to broaden his acting range - The 6th Day (2000) and Collateral Damage (2002), none of which came close to recapturing his former prominence. In 2003 he starred in the popularly received Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which went on to earn over $150 million domestically, but it still wasn't enough to revive his acting career. His latest film appearances included a cameo appearance in The Rundown with The Rock and the 2004 remake of Around the World in 80 Days, notable for featuring him onscreen with action star Jackie Chan for the first time. His latest appearance was a cameo as the "Governator", a Hummer H1, in the 2006 Pixar film Cars.
Arnold Schwarzenneger has stated in many interviews he never regrets doing a role and he feels really bad when he turns down a role.