The man who eventually married into America's elite political royalty had already had two successful careers before becoming Governor of California. Arnold Schwarzenegger started out as one of the country's top bodybuilders before launching an iconic Hollywood film career.
Born in 1947 in Austria, Schwarzenegger had a somewhat troubled childhood. His father, a police chief and an alcoholic, terrorized Arnold as a child. In addition to a series of beatings, unremitting intimidation, and ridicule when he voiced his dream of becoming a bodybuilder, Schwarzenegger was turned down by his father at every attempt in favor of his brother. The relationship was so strained that Schwarzenegger refused to attend the funerals of his father and brother when they died.
Despite early adversity, Schwarzenegger continued on with his dream of becoming a bodybuilder and moved to America, a country he became obsessed with through movies he watched as a child. He began training when he was only fifteen years old and won his first of five Mr. Universe titles at the age of twenty. By the time he concluded his bodybuilding career, he had also won six Mr. Olympia titles.
Schwarzenegger fulfilled his dream of immigrating to America in 1968, when he was just twenty-one years old. He was responsible for bringing bodybuilding to the public's awareness as a mainstream sport and ended his career with his first movie, "Pumping Iron," a documentary about his winning and defending the Mr. Olympia title.
Movies were next on his list, and this is where Schwarzenegger became an American legend. His first movie role was in "Hercules in New York" in 1969, and he followed that up with several movie and television appearances in the 1970s. His real movie success didn't come until the early 1980s, when he starred in "Conan the Barbarian" and "Conan the Destroyer," which he quickly followed up with "The Terminator" in 1984.
He became a hot commodity in Hollywood and took on the role of John Matrix in "Commando" in 1985, Dutch in "Predator" in 1987, and Ben Richards in "The Running Man" in 1987. Schwarzenegger attempted to break out of the hero role in 1988 by appearing in a comedy, "Twins," with Danny DeVito. While it wasn't exactly a box-office smash, it didn't fall completely flat either.
The movies kept coming, with "Total Recall" and "Kindergarten Cop" in 1990 and "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" in 1991. He also starred in "True Lies," "Last Action Hero," and "Junior" in the mid-'90s. He filmed the last of the Terminator franchise, "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," in 2003. Schwarzenegger was the official king of action films.
Toward the end of his first film career, he fell in love with Maria Shriver, Eunice Kennedy Shriver's daughter and John F. Kennedy's niece. They married in Hyannis, Massachusetts, on Apr. 26, 1986, and before long, they were the proud parents of two daughters and two sons.
The family settled in California, where Schwarzenegger began to put plans in place to seek political office. When Governor Gray Davis was recalled in 2003, Arnold ran for the seat and won the election, making him the thirty-eighth Governor of the state of California. He was reelected in 2007 to serve a full term in office.
Unfortunately, his personal life wasn't as successful as his sports, acting, and political careers. After twenty-five years of marriage, the couple got separated when it came to light he had engaged in an ongoing affair with a member of the household staff and had even fathered a child with her. Shriver moved out and purchased a home nearby.
Schwarzenegger was devastated by the loss of his wife and family and opted not to run for another term as governor. Instead, he threw himself back into Hollywood, where he took on the role of Ray Owens in "The Last Stand." While the movie was well received, it was not the box-office hit that usually follows Schwarzenegger's roles, so his acting future remains to be seen. As of 2013, he has two more movies in post-production, one in preproduction, and three, including "Terminator 5," that have been announced but have not yet started filming.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a true superhero for many in the United States, both in stature and in nature. Despite a rocky beginning, he managed to not only achieve but also exceed all of his dreams and to reinvent himself in ways he may not even have predicted. He is a man of determination and conviction with a bright future that could take him in many different directions.