Arnold Schwarzenegger is certainly a name we won't soon forget. This bodybuilding champion has the biceps and the brains to take him a long way from his native home of Austria. His thrive for success in everything he undertakes has brought him to where he is today, ever since he crossed the ocean to the US to take part in the 1968 Mr. Universe competition.
Born on July 30, 1947 in Graz, Austria, Schwarzenegger was raised with strict rules and morals instilled by his parents. The second son of a police officer in his native town, his childhood was a very difficult one and the building block for his character today.
The beginning of his bodybuilding career began when he wanted to join the soccer team. He began lifting weights, and his destiny was already starting to pan out. He later joined the Austrian army at 18 in order to follow his strict diet. His stay was very short as he went AWOL to take part in the Mr. Junior Europe competition, which he won by the way.
And so a legend was born. Schwarzenegger started piling up professional titles and later went on to win the International Powerlifting Championship before he made the move to the US in 1968.
After winning Mr. Universe as an amateur and a professional, he was gradually becoming the talk of the weightlifting industry. This launched his weightlifting career and he won six consecutive Mr. Olympia titles from 1970 to 1975. He had pretty much realized his dream of becoming the "best-built man in the world." He temporarily ceased competing as he felt he "wasn't giving others a chance to win."
His first role in a motion picture was for the movie Hercules Goes to New York in 1970, which later landed him an appearance on the The Merv Griffin Show.
A short-lived venture into show business led him to start a construction company with his bodybuilder friend Franco Columbu. The profits were going to fund a mail-order business of fitness material such as books and cassettes.
Driven by his passion to be taken seriously and be wealthy, he managed to obtain a correspondence degree in business and international economics from the University of Wisconsin.
His constant inflow of money allowed him to live the life of a superstar even before his bodybuilding documentary Pumping Iron came out in 1977. His rise to wealth brought him to invest in real estate, where he was living comfortably in a $200,000 home on the West Coast.
Schwarzenegger won a Golden Globe for Best New Actor in the 1975 movie Stay Hungry. His acting career didn't take off, however, until he obtained the lead role in Conan the Barbarian in 1982. His most memorable and career launching role came with The Terminator in 1982 with director James Cameron.
This sci-fi flick presented Schwarzenegger as a cold-hearted cyber killer. His following movies were also box office champs: Commando (1985), Total Recall (1990), Twins (1988), and Kindergarten Cop (1990).
His personal life also turned out to be a success. After dating Maria Shriver for eight years, they finally got married in 1986. Niece to former president John F. Kennedy and therefore part of the Kennedy legacy, Maria had now brought an avid Republican to the forefront.
Schwarzenegger was often seen alongside president George Bush during his administration, as Chairman of the President's Council on Sports and Fitness.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day, made its presence felt in theaters when it was released in 1991, which turned out to be one of his most commercial successes to date. The limited success of The Last Action Hero was followed with the even more disappointing film Junior.
True Lies (1994), Eraser (1996) and Batman & Robin (1997), however, managed to bring back some of his action superhero credibility. The Austrian Oak, as people often refer to him, appeared recently in the movie End of Days (1999) as a hero trying to confront Satan in an "end of the world" millennium movie.
One of the most respected actors in Hollywood, Arnold is now in the comfortable position of being able to select the projects he wants to partake in. After his role in 2000's The Sixth Day, Arnold was seen blowing up more stuff in Collateral Damage in 2002. He is set to star in the sequel to True Lies and the third installment of the Terminator series.
Taking up the director's chair is also a potential goal in the near future for this man who made his American Dream come true.