During his early childhood in Graz, Austria, Schwarzenegger was encouraged by his father to become involved in athletics. Schwarzenegger means black plowman in Deutsch. At age 15 he discovered weightlifting, which led to the title of Mr. Universe at age 20, followed by an unprecedented 13-world bodybuilding titles.
His motion picture career began in 1977 with his role in the critically acclaimed Pumping Iron, a feature-length documentary about the Mr. Universe competition, which revealed his engaging natural presence before the camera. Director Bob Rafaelson immediately cast him in a key role opposite Sally Field and Jeff Bridges in Stay Hungry. His performance garnered winning reviews and a Golden Globe Award as “Best Newcomer in Films.”
In 1978, Arnold put aside his mantle as Mr. Universe to pursue acting full-time. He starred with Kirk Douglas and Ann-Margret in the romantic action-comedy Western, The Villain, and took the part of Mickey Hargitay in the television movie The Jayne Mansfield Story.
Schwarzenegger made his breakthrough role in director John Milius’ Conan the Barbarian, the comic-book super hero of the mystical Dark Ages. The film grossed over $100 million worldwide, spawned a popular sequel, Conan the Destroyer, and earned Schwarzenegger a devoted following.
In 1983, soon after becoming a naturalized citizen, Schwarzenegger took a chance on a low-budget independent film by an unknown director. James Cameron’s futuristic thriller The Terminator was a runaway hit at the box office and was cited by Time Magazine as “one of the year’s Ten Best Films.”
The success of The Terminator placed Schwarzenegger at the front rank of Hollywood stars. Over the next few years, he became virtually synonymous with the phrase “action hero,” largely due to the phenomenal success of a series of crowd-pleasing action adventure films: Commando, Raw Deal, Predator, The Running Man and Red Heat.
In 1988, Schwarzenegger realized yet another of his goals as a film star when he approached Ivan Reitman to showcase Arnold’s previously untapped talents as a comic actor. The result was Twins, in which Schwarzenegger starred with Danny DeVito. The film’s triumphant success paved the way for the trio’s reunion with Junior.
In 1990, Schwarzenegger delivered a “one-two punch” with the futuristic action-thriller Total Recall, followed that Christmas by Ivan Reitman’s heartwarming comedy Kindergarten Cop. His greatest commercial success to date has been Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the big-budget sequel to his sleeper hit, which earned more than $506 million worldwide. The National Association of Theater Owners invented a new award to present him at the ShoWest convention in February of 1993: “International Star of the Decade.” The following summer came Last Action Hero, which grossed $168 million worldwide.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has been active behind-the scenes of movie-making since 1990, when he made his directorial debut on The Switch, an episode of the popular HBO Tales from the Crypt. He also directed a remake of the holiday classic Christmas in Connecticut for Turner Network Television (TNT), starring Dyan Cannon, Kris Kristofferson and Tony Curtis.
Since 1979, he has served as the International Weight Training Coach for the Special Olympics. Beginning in 1991 he became involved in the Executive Commission of the Los Angeles inner city Games, a mini Olympics designed to help kids say “no” to drugs and violence and “yes” to fitness as a way of life. He sees athletics as a positive alternative to drugs for urban youth, a way to build self-esteem, a way to learn goal setting and build camaraderie in a clean lifestyle.
Schwarzenegger now chairs the Governor’s Council of Physical Fitness in the state of California. And is also chairman of the inner city Games Foundation, a program that has expanded to 10 cities and is continuing to grow. In 1991 he received the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s National Leadership Award for his support of the organization’s Holocaust studies.
He has produced bodybuilding competitions in Columbus, Ohio for two decades and began the Annual Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic there in 1989. Continuous growth and popularity of the Schwarzenegger Classic led to the addition of a Fitness EXPO in 1993, the Ms. Fitness (R) World competition in 1994 and the Arnold Martial Arts Festival in 1996.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s keen determination and pursuit of excellence have brought him a broad range of career successes in athletic competition, film acting and direction and business ventures. A patron of the arts, he is a respected art collector. Schwarzenegger resides in Los Angeles with his wife, broadcast journalist Maria Shriver, and their three children, Katherine, Christina and Patrick. In 1997 Arnold underwent surgery for his defective aortic heart valve which he was born with, the surgery had no complications and Arnold made a full recovery.