Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger (born July 30, 1947 in Thal, Styria, Austria) is an Austrian-American actor, Republican politician, bodybuilder, and businessman, currently serving as the 38-th Governor of California. He was elected on October 7, 2003 in a special recall election which removed sitting Governor Gray Davis from office. Schwarzenegger was sworn in on November 17, 2003 to serve the remainder of Davis' term, which lasts until January 2007.
Nicknamed The Austrian Oak in his body-building days, and more recently "The Governator" or simply Ahnold, Schwarzenegger as a young man gained widespread attention as a highly successful bodybuilder, and later gained worldwide fame as a Hollywood action film star. His most famous films include The Terminator (and its sequels), Predator, Hercules in New York, Conan the Barbarian, True Lies, Kindergarten Cop, and Total Recall.
Schwarzenegger was born in Thal, Austria, four miles (6 km) from Graz, to a Gendarmerie-Kommandant policeman, Gustav Schwarzenegger (1907-1972) and his wife, the former Aurelia Jadrny (1922-1998). His parents were members of the Nazi party.
After working in the United Kingdom for a short time, and with $20 in his pocket, and not fluent in English, he moved to the U.S. in 1968. He became a U.S. citizen in 1983, although he has also retained his Austrian citizenship. During this time, 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.
In 1971 Schwarzenegger's brother Meinhard was killed in an automobile accident, and his father died the following year. He did not attend either funeral. In 1977 his autobiography, Arnold: The Education of a Body-Builder was published. In 1986, Schwarzenegger married TV journalist Maria Shriver, niece of late President John F. Kennedy. The couple have four children: daughters Katherine and Christina, and sons Patrick and Christopher. Together, the couple own a home in the fabled Kennedy Compound.
His distinctive and oft-imitated accent has led many entertainers and pundits to refer to him simply as "Ah-nuld".
Schwarzenegger first gained fame as a bodybuilder. His well-developed physique earned him the moniker "The Austrian Oak" (or "The Styrian Oak") and won him the titles of Junior Mr. Europe, Mr. World, IFBB Mr. Universe, NABBA Mr. Universe (four times), and Mr. Olympia (seven times). The seven wins at Mr. Olympia was a record set in 1980, cementing him as a legend of the sport. The record would remain until Lee Haney won his eighth straight Olympia in 1991. 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 admitted to using performance-enhancing anabolic steroids, 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 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 aortic valve is tricuspid.) According to a spokesman, Schwarzenegger has not used anabolic steroids since 1990 when they were made illegal. In bodybuilder slang, steroids are sometimes called "Arnolds".
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".
In 2003 two African-American bodybuilders came forward claiming that Schwarzenegger has a history of making racist comments. Schwarzenegger has allegedly said".If you gave these blacks a country to run, they would run it down the tubes".
Growing bored with professional bodybuilding, which he began to view as a "go nowhere" career, Schwarzenegger began to pursue a career as an actor. His uniquely muscular appearance earned him several movie roles. His first film appearance was as Hercules in Hercules in New York (1970), credited under the name Arnold Strong, although his accent in the film was so thick that his lines were dubbed. He appeared in The Long Goodbye, and more notably Stay Hungry, for which he was awarded a Golden Globe.
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, outtakes, and associated still photography that could be embarrassing politically. Initially he had trouble breaking into films because agents disliked his surname, muscles and accent. Though Schwarzenegger refuses to discuss his plastic surgery ("You are confusing me with Cher," he told People Magazine in 2002), citing before and after photos, critics allege he has undergone procedures on his eyes and chin, and has received at least one facelift.
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 most well-known as the title character of James Cameron's android 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, his most prominent contemporary. (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 never came 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 behind his usual violent action. Kindergarten Cop (1990) was another comedy.
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. True Lies (1994) was a popular sendup of spy films, and saw Schwarzenegger reunited with director James Cameron, whose own career had taken off with The Terminator. 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. Although Batman & Robin was a famous disaster, Schwarzenegger emerged largely unscathed. Several film projects were announced with Schwarzenegger attached to star including the remake of The Planet of the Apes, a new film 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. He starred in the popularly received Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) and was slated to star in a possible True Lies 2 and Conan the King, but his duties as California governor have likely put his movie career on hold until at least 2007, though producers repeatedly claim he will make a small appearance in a fourth Terminator film. His last film appearance to date was a cameo in the 2004 remake of Around the World in 80 Days, notable for featuring him onscreen with action star Jackie Chan for the first time.
Schwarzenegger is a Republican, unusual among the often heavily Democratic Hollywood community. He describes himself as fiscally conservative and socially moderate. Schwarzenegger backed Republican President Ronald Reagan, whose footsteps he's following - movie star turned politician - while Reagan was in office, and campaigned for George H.W. Bush in 1988. However, he chastised fellow Republicans during the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998. Sensing an opportunity to affect the outcome of the 2004 Presidential race, Schwarzenegger campaigned in Ohio for Republican George W. Bush in the closing days of the campaign.
In an interview on October 29, 2002, with MSNBC's Chris Matthews at Chapman University, Schwarzenegger explained why he is a Republican:
"Well, I think because a lot of people don't know why I'm a Republican, I came first of all from a socialistic country which is Austria and when I came over here in 1968 with the presidential elections coming up in November, I came over in October, I heard a lot of the press conferences from both of the candidates Humphrey and Nixon, and Humphrey was talking about more government is the solution, protectionism, and everything he said about government involvement sounded to me more like Austrian socialism.
Then when I heard Nixon talk about it, he said open up the borders, the consumers should be represented there ultimately and strengthen the military and get the government off our backs. I said to myself, what is this guy's party affiliation? I didn't know anything at that point. So I asked my friend, what is Nixon? He's a Republican. And I said, I am a Republican. That's how I became a Republican".
It had been known since the 1990s that Schwarzenegger was interested in public office; this was jokingly referenced in the 1993 Sylvester Stallone film, Demolition Man, where a future America passed a constitutional amendment to allow naturalized Americans like Schwarzenegger to become President, and that film has reference to a "Schwarzenegger Presidential Library".
Regarding a run for public office, in 1999, he told Talk magazine that "I think about it many times". He said, "The possibility is there because I feel it inside. I feel there are a lot of people standing still and not doing enough. And there's a vacuum".
Venturing into politics
Schwarzenegger was appointed Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in the administration of George H. W. Bush from 1990 to 1993. During that time, Schwarzenegger traveled across the U.S. promoting physical fitness to kids and lobbying all 50 governors in support of school fitness programs".He would hit sometimes two or three governors in a day in his own airplane, at his own expense, somewhere around $4,000 an hour," said George Otott, his chief of staff at the time".When he walked in, it wasn't about the governor, it was about Arnold," said Otott, a retired Marine".He has what we in the military call a command presence. He becomes the number one attention-getter".
He later served as Chairman for the California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under Governor Pete Wilson.
Schwarzenegger scored his first real political success on November 5, 2002 when Californians approved his personally crafted and sponsored Proposition 49, the "After School Education and Safety Program Act of 2002", an initiative to make state grants available for after-school programs.
2003 California recall
For years, Schwarzenegger had discussed with friends, potential donors, advisors and political allies a possible run for high political office; on April 10, 2003, for example, he met with Republican political operative Karl Rove to discuss a future campaign. In the months leading to the 2003 California recall, Schwarzenegger was widely rumored to be considering a run at becoming Governor of California. In the July 2003 issue of Esquire magazine, he said, "Yes, I would love to be governor of California.. If the state needs me, and if there's no one I think is better, then I will run". When a petition to recall Democratic governor Gray Davis qualified for the ballot on July 24, Schwarzenegger left many wondering whether he would jump into the contest. Schwarzenegger was just wrapping up a promotional tour for Terminator 3 and said he would announce his decision on whether to run on August 6 on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
In the days and even hours leading up to the show's taping, political experts and insiders concluded that Schwarzenegger was leaning against running in California's October 7 recall election. Even his closest advisors said he was probably not going to run. Rumors leading up to the announcement said that his wife, Maria Shriver, a Kennedy family Democrat, was against his running, and he wanted her approval in order to run. When announcing his candidacy on the Tonight Show, he joked, "It's the most difficult [decision] I've made in my entire life, except the one I made in 1978 when I decided to get a bikini wax". Ultimately, Shriver said she would support Schwarzenegger no matter what he chose, so he decided to run. Schwarzenegger told Leno, "The politicians are fiddling, fumbling and failing. The man that is failing the people more than anyone is Gray Davis. He is failing them terribly, and this is why he needs to be recalled and this is why I am going to run for governor".
As a candidate in the recall election, Schwarzenegger had the most name recognition in a crowded field of candidates, but he had never held public office and his political views were unknown to most Californians. His candidacy was immediate national and international news, with media outlets dubbing him the "Governator" (referring to The Terminator movies, see above) and "The Running Man" (the name of another of his movies), and calling the recall election "Total Recall" (ditto) and "Terminator 4: Rise of the Candidate" (referring to his movie Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines). Schwarzenegger was quick to make use of his well-known one-liners, promising to "pump up Sacramento" (the state capital) and tell Gray Davis "hasta la vista". At the end of his first press conference, he told the audience "I'll be back". Schwarzenegger looked to follow in the footsteps of former California governor and one-time movie star Ronald Reagan. However, due to his status as a naturalized citizen, he would not be eligible to seek the Presidency unless the Constitution were to be amended (as proposed in 2000 by Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), and in July 2003 (the Equal Opportunity to Govern Amendment) by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)). Among his campaign team were actor Rob Lowe, billionaire Warren Buffett, and former Nixon and Reagan aide George Shultz.
During the campaign, allegations of sexual and personal misconduct were raised against Schwarzenegger (see Gropegate). Within the last five days before the election, news reports appeared in the Los Angeles Times recounting allegations of sexual misconduct from several individual women, sixteen of whom eventually came forward with their personal stories. Chronologically, they ranged from Elaine Stockton, who claimed that Schwarzenegger groped her breast at a Gold's Gym in 1975 (she was 19 at the time), to a 51-year-old woman who said that he pinned her to his chest and spanked her shortly after she met him in connection with production of his film, "The Sixth Day," in 2000. Schwarzenegger admitted that he has "behaved badly sometimes" and apologized, but also stated that "a lot of (what) you see in the stories is not true". This came after a magazine interview from the same era (1975) surfaced in which Schwarzenegger discussed attending sexual orgies and indulging in drugs like marijuana and cocaine.
Allegations printed on the front page of The Los Angeles Times, based on selective quotation, were also made that he at one time admired Adolf Hitler and had praised him as a great propagandist. However the full text of the statement from which the quotation was taken significantly reduces the credibility of the allegations. Although Schwarzenegger's father was in fact a member of the Nazi party, Schwarzenegger has been a strong supporter of various Jewish groups, and has denounced the principles of the fascist German regime, saying "I have always despised everything that Hitler stands for".
March 1992 Spy Magazine article mentions a story confirmed by "a businessman and longtime friend of Schwarzenegger's" - that in the '70s Arnold "enjoyed playing and giving away records of Hitler's speeches". Arnold supported the campaign of Kurt Waldheim Former UN chief and a former Austrian politician who was found guilty of war crimes and participating in Nazi activities during World War II. Schwarzenegger's name remained on Waldheim's campaign posters, even after allegations of Waldheim's war crimes were brought to light. Waldheim was also invited to Arnold's wedding with Maria Shriver.
These allegations were brought up mainly in the context of his campaign, but they continue to be occasionally used by some critics. Garry Trudeau, the cartoonist behind the comic strip Doonesbury, combined the allegations by nicknaming Schwarzenegger "Herr Gropenfuhrer" and depicting Schwarzenegger as a huge, groping hand in his artwork.
On October 7, 2003, the 2003 California recall resulted in Governor Gray Davis being recalled with 55.4% of the Yes vote. Schwarzenegger was elected Governor of California under the second question on the ballot with 48.6% of the vote, defeating Democrat Cruz Bustamante, fellow Republican Tom McClintock and others. In total, Arnold won the election by about 1.3 million votes.
He was sworn into office on November 17, 2003. Schwarzenegger's inauguration was opened by Vanessa Lynn Williams, his co-star from Eraser, singing the National Anthem. His children joined others in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, then Maria Shriver spoke and held the Bible while Schwarzenegger was sworn into the office of Governor. He spoke briefly: "Today is a new day in California. I did not seek this office to do things the way they've always been done. What I care about is restoring your confidence in your government.. This election was not about replacing one man. It was not replacing one party. It was about changing the entire political climate of our state".