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  • ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER

    July 30, 1947
    Graz, Austria

    Arnold Schwarzenegger was the second of two sons born to Gustav, an Austrian police chief and his wife Aurelia. Arnold and his brother Meinhard were raised in a home void of luxuries such as running water and central heating, and from a young age he and his brother were reared with a sense of discipline by their strict father.
          It was while visiting a gym with the soccer team that Arnold first took an interest in the endeavors of weightlifting. That, along with a fondness for "Hercules" films, prompted him to become a regular at the gym. Aspiring to build up his frame, he spent several hours each week pushing both mind and body to the limit and beyond in his virtual zen-like quest to enhance his physique.
          Mandatory service in the Austrian army did not diminish his enthusiasm for bodybuilding, and even though his father hoped he would end his devotion to a sport which was viewed with skepticism and distain by many, Arnold was determined to stick it out. At one time he even went AWOL in order to compete in a contest. Eventually, the sport brought him to where he was able to realize his dream of movie stardom...America.
          He continued to train under the tutleage of fitness czar Joe Weider who was instrumental in getting Arnold his first role in a motion picture. Weider told producers that Schwarzenegger was a Shakespearean trained actor in Austria. Arnold got the part playing the son of Zeus in the low-budget camp effort entitled, "Hercules Goes Bananas". He was billed as Arnold Strong, because his name was something the filmmakers found difficulty in pronouncing, and his accented voice was dubbed. Basically, he had the physique but little else for the role. From there, Arnold racked up several victories in bodybuilding, and invested his contest winnings, along with earnings from a mail-order business he had set up, into real estate holdings. All this in the event that his dream of stardom was never realized, for Hollywood did not think that his long name, strange accent, and physique would be something which would draw filmgoers.
          Arnold did gain a bit more respect when he played--of all things--a gym regular who plays the fiddle (!) in Bob Rafelson's 1976 effort "Stay Hungry", appearing onscreen with the likes of Jeff Bridges and Sally Field. Schwarzenegger took home a Golden Globe for Best Male Actor in a film debut. He was also the subject of the documentary "Pumping Iron".
          For the next few years, Arnold kept himself busy with his mail-order business, business school, and becoming a big celebrity. As a celebrity, he was among the invited at the Robert Kennedy Memorial Tennis Tournament in 1977, where he and his court partner, football star Rosey Grier, met defeat at the hands of two young girls. It was there that he first met aspiring tele-journalist Maria Shriver, who has been quoted as saying, "I fell in love with him almost as soon as we met."
          In 1982, following a brief return to bodybuilding, Arnold played the title role in the highly anticipated adaptation of Robert Howard's "Conan the Barbarian." For preparation, Arnold and his co-stars learned the Japanese martial art of "kendo" and watched Akira Kurosowa films. Despite its R-rating, "Conan the Barbarian" was a big hit, and Arnold followed up its success with "Conan the Destroyer." He drew greater acclaim and breakout status as a cybernetic assassin in James Cameron's "The Terminator." Interestingly, it was originally intended that Arnold play hero Kyle Reese, but after reading the script Arnold thought the robotic nemesis was a much more interesting character. He wound up playing the Terminator, and his dead-pan delivery and ironically his accent, made the role unforgettable. Although a small hit at the box office, the film found a larger audience, and fanbase, once it hit video.
          It was during a trip to Austria with Maria, who by this time had found a niche as a reporter for CBS, that he proposed to her in a rowboat. Following their much publicized wedding in Hyannis, Mass., in 1986, Schwarzenegger went on to play a former G-man turned small town sherriff in "Raw Deal". Though many critics liked it, not many people saw it. His next forays were again in science-fiction and action, first as a soldier fighting a malevolent extraterrestrial in "John McTernan's "Predator", then as a convict participating in a Survivor-like game show in "The Running Man".
          Arnold's knack for humor was evident when he engaged in onscreen mayhem in the comedy "Twins" opposite Danny Devito. The film showed some serious box office muscle and it was Arnold's first film to make $100,000,000 at the box office. Arnold exercised his shrewd business savvy by signing on for a percentage of the gross as opposed to a huge up-front fee.
          Arnold was the embodiment of the American (a naturalized citizen since 1983) dream when he was appointed by President Bush to chair the President's Council on Physical Fitness, traveling to schools throughout the country to check on their physical education programs and at times finding none existed. He also became instrumental in implementing athletic programs for inner city children, and for years has helped with the Special Olympics, which mother-in- law, Eunice, founded. He also became partners with fellow action stars Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis in the business venture of the Planet Hollywood restaurants.
          Shortly after the release of "Jingle All the Way," Arnold underwent elective heart-valve replacement surgery. But he recovered in time to make the rounds promoting his efforts as the villain Mr. Freeze in Joel Schumaccher's "Batman and Robin".
          Despite the lackluster domestic box office performances of his recent efforts, "End of Days" and "The Sixth Day," Arnold is still a sizable draw at the box office and his films often are popular releases on video and DVD.
          His devotion to notable causes have earned him accolades from the Simon Wiesenthal Center among other organizations. Arnold is highly regarded as a true professional in the world of cinema and no doubt is a true professional personally as he has enjoyed a rather lengthy marriage, by Hollywood standards, and has four children.
    Photo © unknown

    Written by: Robert Baum ©2001 [used with permission]

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    [TV]=Guest starred [STV]=Starred [VM]=Video movie [VC]=Voice [N]=Narrator [MV]=Music video

    FILM/TV CREDITS

    - Joe's Last Chance (2003)
    - Around the World in 80 Days (2003)
    - The Rundown (2003)
    - Terminator 3 (2003)
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    - Collateral Damage (2001)
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    - The 6th Day (2000)
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    - Arnold: Biography (2000) [bio]
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    - Arnold: Hollywood Hero (1999) [Bio]
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    - End of Days (1999)
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    - Batman & Robin (1997)
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    - Jingle All the Way (1996)
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    - Eraser (1996)
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    - Beretta's Island (1994)
    - Junior (1994)
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    - True Lies (1994)
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    - Last Action Hero (1993)
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    - Lincoln (1992) [voice]
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    - Playboy: Carnival In Rio (1992)
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    - Christmas in Connecticut (92) [TV]
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    - Terminator 2 (1991)
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    - Kindergarten Cop (1990)
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    - Total Recall (1990)
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    - Tales from the Crypt (1989) [TV]
    - Twins (1988)
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    - Red Heat (1988)
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    - The Running Man (1987)
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    - Predator (1987)
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    - Raw Deal (1986)
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    - Commando (1985)
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    - Red Sonja (1985)
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    - The Terminator (1984)
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    - Conan the Destroyer (1984)
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    - Conan the Barbarian (1982)
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    - Jayne Mansfield Story (1980) [TV]
    - The Villain (1979)
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    - Scavenger Hunt (1979)
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    - Pumping Iron (1977)
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    - San Pedro Beach Bums (1977) [TV]
    - Stay Hungry (1976)
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    - The Long Goodbye (1973)
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    - Streets of San Francisco (72) [TV]
    - Hercules In New York (1970)
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    PRODUCING CREDITS

    - The 6th Day (2000)
    - Last Action Hero (93)

    DIRECTING CREDITS

    - Christmas in Connecticut (92) [TV]
    - Tales from the Crypt (89) [TV]

    ARTICLE LINKS:

    1. BBC Online - [report]
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    5. E!Online - [report]

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