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Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger

There was no way of knowing it at the time, but a baby boy born in Graz, Austria, was pre-destined for greatness. His father strongly encouraged him to become involved in athletics in order to develop a strong sense of determinationa trait that evolved into nothing short of a dogged pursuit of excellence in every aspect of his life. He participated in the sport of soccer and competed in track and field events before discovering his true passion for weight lifting at the age of 15. Three years later, he trained as a professional bodybuilder and by the age of 20, he became none other than Mr. Universe. That baby boy grew up to be ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER.

Schwarzenegger would of course go on to become one of the most successful entertainers in box office history, but before the Austrian bodybuilder immersed himself in his lifelong ambition to act, he moved to the United States and received a business degree from the University of Wisconsin. His humanitarian contributions subsequently garnered him an honorary doctorate from the same university. While attending the University of Wisconsin, he continued to compete in bodybuilding, packing an unprecedented thirteen world titles under his belt, including Mr. Universe, Mr. Olympia and Mr. World. With an international fan base, charisma, growing popularity and natural talent in front of media and cameras, his goal of launching a motion picture career was the next logical and inevitable transition.

In 1970, he landed a small role in the aptly titled Hercules in New York. Another minor break followed when director Bob Rafelson cast him in a key role opposite Sally Field and Jeff Bridges in Stay Hungry. His performance not only earned him winning reviews, but even a Golden Globe Award for Best Newcomer that year. But it would be the critically acclaimed 1977 film Pumping Iron that really captured his engaging, natural presence in front of the camera. The feature-length documentary about the Mr. Olympia competitions would ironically allow him to put his own Mr. Universe moniker aside and pursue acting full-time.

A romantic action-comedy western called The Villain was released next, pairing Schwarzenegger with Kirk Douglas and Ann-Margret. That same year, Arnold agreed to play the part of Mickey Hargitay opposite Loni Anderson in The Jayne Mansfield Story. But it wasn't until 1982 that the former bodybuilder really made his mark on the Hollywood scene in director John Milius' interpretation of Conan the Barbarian, in which Arnold portrayed the overblown comic-book hero of the mystical Dark Ages. The film grossed over $100 million worldwide, spawning a popular sequel called Conan the Destroyer and securing Schwarzenegger a devoted following around the globe.

Soon after becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1983, Schwarzenegger took a chance on a low-budget independent film by an unknown director named James Cameron. A futuristic thriller that featured Arnold as one of the most terrifying villains in movie history, The Terminator was a runaway box-office hit. Cited by Time magazine as one of the year's Ten Best Films, the success of The Terminator immediately thrust its star into the forefront of Hollywood's elite. Over the next few years, his name would become virtually synonymous with the term action hero due to a phenomenal string of crowd-pleasing and money-making adventure films including: Commando, Raw Deal, Predator, The Running Man, Red Heat and Total Recall.

Schwarzenegger was determined to realize yet another one of his goals by tapping his previously unknown talents as a comedic actor. The result was the 1988 movie Twins in which Arnold starred alongside Danny DeVito with Ivan Reitman directing. The film's triumphant success paved the way for a reunion of sorts when the two actors, directed again by Reitman, starred together in 1995's Junior. True to form, Schwarzenegger received a Best Actor in a Comedy Golden Globe nomination for his performance.

Despite Arnold's success and accomplishments in comedy, it was definitely action that became his signature statement on the big screen. And nothing could have prepared Arnold fans for the hugely successful sequel to his breakthrough role as a killer cyborg from the future in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The big-budget follow-up to the sleeper hit seven years earlier brought in more that $500 million worldwide, his greatest commercial success to date and one of the biggest grossing films of the decade.

To this day, Schwarzenegger continues to be the driving force behind many of the industry's biggest blockbusters, including True Lies, Eraser, Batman and Robin, Kindergarten Cop and End of Days. He even became active behind the scenes of movie-making, directing an episode from the popular HBO series Tales from the Crypt called The Switch and a Turner Network Television (TNT) remake of the holiday classic Christmas in Connecticut starring Dyan Cannon, Kris Kristofferson and Tony Curtis. In late 2000, Schwarzenegger released the science fiction action picture The 6th Day, and in 2002, the much anticipated action thriller titled Collateral Damage hit theaters. Schwarzenegger also has plans to shoot the highly anticipated True Lies 2 with Jim Cameron in 2003 and has a Conan sequel as well as the remake of the classic Westworld slated to follow.

But for all the hype surrounding his career in bodybuilding and in Hollywood, Arnold Schwarzenegger's most gratifying accomplishments are much more steeped in reality. He has made countless contributions of his time and energy, not to mention his personal finances, to philanthropic organizations around the world. He was named the International Weight Training Coach of the Special Olympics in 1979, and serves as a Global Ambassador to the organization founded by his mother-in-law, Eunice Shriver, in 1967. He was appointed Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under the Bush Administration from 1990 to 1993, and also served as the Chairman for the California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under Pete Wilson.

In 1991, Schwarzenegger began a term as Executive Commissioner of the Hollenbeck Youth Center Inner-City Games in Los Angeles. He believed strongly that educating kids, giving them opportunities, encouraging them to set and reach goals, helping them to become winners and offering a sense of pride and accomplishment was the only way to break the cycle of poverty, despair and untimely death for kids in our inner-cities. Four years later, in collaboration with Hollenbeck's Director Danny Hernandez, Schwarzenegger established the National Inner-City Games Foundation and serves as its National Chairman. Schwarzenegger wanted to create alternatives for kids to violence, drugs and gangs during the critical hours after school, on weekends and during the summer. What started as a summer athletic competition became so successful that ICG now provides year-round opportunities for under-privileged children to participate in educational, cultural and community enrichment programs as well as computer and sports activities. ICG offers competitions and clinics around the country, building confidence and self esteem as well as encouraging the youth of America to say no to gangs, drugs and violence while saying yes to hope, learning and life. From humble origins in Los Angeles, the foundation now stretches to fifteen cities around the nation reaching over 250,000 kids in over 400 schools. Schwarzenegger does not merely lend his name to the Foundation but acts as a child advocate he rolls up his sleeves and flexes his muscles traveling the country meeting with local officials, educators, administrators and kids to ensure the program's continued growth and success.

The latest project of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Inner-City Games Foundation is Arnold's All-Stars an organization dedicated to providing specially designed after-school programs offering academic, recreational and cultural enrichment programs for every middle school in the state of California to help young people improve in school and in life. In addition, Schwarzenegger put his muscles where his mouth is and created an after-school initiative the After School Education and Safety Act of 2002 (Proposition 49), which was recently passed in the California election. As the initiative's sponsor, author and Chairman, Schwarzenegger designed the program to make state grants available to every public middle school in California to create quality after-school programs for its kids.

Arnold's efforts have certainly not gone unnoticed over the years. Just some of the many acknowledgments he has received include the National Association of Theater Owners inventing a new award to present to him at the ShoWest convention in February of 1993: International Star of the Decade. In both 1991 and 1997, he was lauded with the Simon Wiesenthal Center's National Leadership Award for his support of the organization's Holocaust studies. He was also the recipient of the ShoWest Humanitarian of the Year Award in 1997 and in 1998 received the Moving Picture Ball's American Cinematheque Award. In 2000, he was recognized by Boys and Girls Town with the Father Flanagan Service to Youth Award for his efforts with ICG and Special Olympics and received the AFMA's top honor as World Wide Box Office Champ.

He has most recently been honored in 2001 at the International World Sports Awards with their highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, for his accomplishments as an athlete and for promoting health, sports and fitness among children. In the same year he was also awarded the Taurus Honorary Award by the World Stunt Awards organization to honor his body of work, which consistently supports and celebrates the art and science of stunts in cinema. In 2002, he was given the esteemed honor of the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award, presented to him by Ali, a longtime friend and sports mentor. He also recently was honored with the Caritas Award for Spirit of Charity from St. Johns Hospital with wife Maria Shriver.

In 2002 Schwarzenegger was selected by Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn to light the Olympic cauldron during the countrywide torch run for the summer 2002 Olympics. Schwarzenegger has also received several honorary degrees in recent years. His alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, presented him with the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 1979; Imadec University in Vienna bestowed an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration for his Life Achievements in 2001 and in 2002; Chapman University presented him with a Doctorate of Humane Letters for his work with Special Olympics as well as Inner City Games.

In addition, Schwarzenegger is a well-respected investor and business entrepreneur, event producer and author. He has significant commercial real estate holdings in Southern California and considerable corporate investments. Schwarzenegger is a partner with the Limited, Inc. and Georgetown Associates in the Easton Town Center, a one million square-foot urban entertainment and retail shopping center located in the northeast quadrant of Columbus, Ohio, which was opened in 1999. He is also a producer of the Arnold Classic, one of the largest annual bodybuilding and fitness events in the world. The weekend long expo is attended by over 70,000 people and features over 600 booths including the Arnold Strong Man Competition, The Powerlifting World Championship, The Karate World Cup Championship, and a handicapped competition. Schwarzenegger is also the author of many books including Arnold, The Education of a Bodybuilder as well as two volumes of the Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.

Throughout his lifetime, Arnold Schwarzenegger has provided the world with so many significant contributions and achievements along a broad spectrum of work ranging from acting, directing and producing to athletic competitions, business ventures and community service. From his early days as Mr. Universe to a well-respected patron of the arts to reigning box office champion he expects the best from himself and inspires the best in others. All the while Schwarzenegger puts his family first as husband of fifteen years to broadcast journalist Maria Shriver and father to their four children Katherine, Christina, Patrick and Christopher.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Facts

Birth NameArnold Alois Schwarzenegger
OccupationActor, Director
BirthdayJuly 30, 1947 (76)
BirthplaceGraz, Austria
Height6' 2" (1m88)  How tall is Arnold Schwarzenegger compared to you?
Awards1992 MTV Movie Awards: Best Male Performance (for Terminator 2: Judgement Day)

Selected Filmography

Terminator 3 - Rise of the Machines (2003) as The Terminator
Collateral Damage (2002) as Gordy Brewer
The 6th Day (2000) as Adam Gibson
Batman & Robin (1997) as Mr. Freeze
Eraser (1996) as John Kruger
Jingle All the Way (1996) as Howard Langston
True Lies (1994) as Harry Tasker
Terminator 2 - Judgment Day (1991) as The Terminator
Red Heat (1988) as Captain Ivan Danko
Twins (1988) as Julius Benedict
The Running Man (1987) as Ben Richards
Red Sonja (1985) as Kalidor
Conan The Destroyer (1984) as Conan
The Terminator (1984) as The Terminator (breakthrough)
Conan The Barbarian (1982) as Conan
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