Arnold Schwarzenegger started from practically nothing. He grew up in Austria, and his childhood was rather abusive – but that didn’t stop him. Not even family tragedy could get in the way of his goals. He encountered obstacles nearly every step of the way, but eventually became the greatest action star of all time. But in spite of all of his virtues, not even Arnold is without his flaws. Indeed, Schwarzenegger would come to regret the choices he made. Most notably, when one scandal went public, it threatened to tear his family apart and rip away all that he had worked so hard for…
Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most popular and famous people alive today. He is doubtlessly the most famous bodybuilder who ever lived, for one, as well as one of the greatest action movie stars of all time.
Despite the fame and popularity, he has gained in his career, however, he has overcome more obstacles than you may know. Indeed, much of what Arnold accomplished was through controversy, from a difficult upbringing to a recent scandal that threatened to destroy his family…
Troubled Father-Son Relationship
His father, Gustav, harbored an unfound suspicion that Arnold wasn’t really his biological son. He “had no patience for listening or understanding your problems.” Gustav treated Arnold abusively while favoring his older son, Meinhard.
“My hair was pulled,” Arnold recalled. “I was hit with belts.” But Arnold turned negativity into positivity: “Every time someone said, ‘You can’t do this,’ I said, ‘This is not going to be for much longer because I’m going to move out of here. I want to be rich. I want to be somebody.'”
A Harsh Upbringing
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger was born to Gustav and Aurelia on July 30, 1947, in Thal, Austria. He grew up poor; one of the highlights of his youth was when the family bought a refrigerator.
Post World War II Austrian society was harsh and strict. “Back then in Austria, it was a very different world,” he recalled. “If we did something bad or we disobeyed our parents, the rod was not spared.” Unlike him, “Many of the children I’ve seen were broken by their parents,” he said.
Influenced by his father, Arnold got into sports from a young age. He was eventually exposed to weightlifting and bodybuilding, which quickly became his passion. “My own plan formed when I was 14 years old. My father had wanted me to be a police officer like he was. My mother wanted me to go to trade school.”
As for his work ethic, Arnold recalled, “It would make me sick to miss a workout… I knew I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror the next morning if I didn’t do it.”
An Odd Obsession
Bodybuilding wasn’t a popular and well-known sport back then. When Arnold started getting into it, his mother was apparently worried. She even called the doctor! On 60 Minutes, Arnold revealed her line of thinking: “She asked the doctor, ‘Can you help me? I don’t know if there’s something wrong with my son because his wall is full of naked men. All of Arnold’s friends have pictures of girls above their bed. And Arnold has no girls.'” She would eventually come around, though!
Stint In The Military
When he was 18, Arnold began his compulsory, one year service in the Austrian Army as a tank driver. This, he said, “appealed to the part of me that has always been moved by any show of strength and force.”
Not even military discipline could get in the way of his aspirations — he went AWOL to participate in the Junior Mr. Europe competition, which he won. As punishment for insubordination, Arnold was put in a military prison. Years later, he purchased the same tank he drove in his service.
First Plane Ride
After his Austrian army service, Arnold Schwarzenegger traveled to London in 1966, which would be his first time traveling an airplane. The purpose of his trip was to compete in the Mr. Universe competition. It’s surprising, but he actually didn’t come in first place! That honor went to American Chester Yorton, who won by virtue of having better muscle definition, particularly in the legs. Despite this, the Austrian bodybuilder certainly turned heads when he came to England…
Improving His English
One of the competition’s judges, Charles “Wag” Bennett, offered to coach Arnold after he lost to Chester Yorton. Bennet even let him stay at his family home! Arnold later recalled: “Being with them made me so much more sophisticated. When you’re the age I was then, you’re always looking for approval, for love, for attention and also for guidance. At the time, I wasn’t really aware of that. But now, looking back, I see that the Bennett family fulfilled all those needs. Especially my need to be the best in the world.”
Meeting His Idol
Through Bennett, Arnold Schwarzenegger was able to meet his childhood idol, Reg Park, who won the Mr. Universe competitions three times. Park also held a record as only the second person in history to bench press 500 pounds. The two hit it off and became lifelong friends. Reg Park would be his mentor, helping him train. In such an environment, Arnold found himself greatly improving in England. But would it be enough to beat Chester Yorton and the other bodybuilders?
After training with some of the best in the world, Arnold finally managed to win the Mr. Universe competition in 1967 when he was just 20 years old. With this, he became the youngest person ever to win. He won three more times. Schwarzenegger then moved to Munich, Germany, where he attended a business school. He always had his eyes on the prize, though, even telling his English coach at the time: “I’m going to become the greatest actor!”
Coming To America
He moved to London in 1966 to concentrate on his career, where he finally won his first Mr. Universe title at the age of 20 in 1967. “The Mr. Universe title was my ticket to America — the land of opportunity, where I could become a star and get rich.”
The next year he moved to America, where he “overcame a thick Austrian accent and transcended the unlikely background of bodybuilding to become the biggest movie star in the world in the 1990s,” according to LA Weekly. Arnold would become a naturalized American citizen in 1983.
While raking in Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia titles while living in America, tragedy struck. Arnold’s brother, Meinhard, was driving under the influence when he died in a traffic accident in 1971.
A year and a half later, his father died. He didn’t return to Austria to attend either one of the funerals. Although he reportedly had a good relationship with his brother, he reportedly wanted to avoid seeing his father, with whom he had a strained relationship. Arnold later helped his nephew, Patrick, come to America.
Patrick M. Knapp Schwarzenegger
While we’re on the subject of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s nephew, Patrick, oddly has the same name that Arnold chose to name one of his own sons. The older Patrick was raised mostly by his mother and grandparents. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2006, retaining his Austrian citizenship as well, like his famous uncle. He is a lawyer with decades of experience. Currently, he is Arnold’s advisor on his TV show, The New Celebrity Apprentice, alongside Tyra Banks, Warren Buffet, and more.
All in all, Arnold would go on to win three Mr. Universe titles and no less than seven Mr. Olympia titles, the last of which he won after joining the competition at the last minute.
Regarding his anabolic steroids use, he took them when they were still legal, 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.”
Early Movie Roles
His ambition to become an actor began being realized after being cast as Hercules in 1969’s Hercules in New York, where his accent was dubbed over. In 1976, he won a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year — Actor for his role in the movie Stay Hungry.
He got even more fame with the 1977 bodybuilding film Pumping Iron. Despite his eventual rise to fame as a movie star, which was monumental, Schwarzenegger said, “It was very difficult for me in the beginning.”
“I was told by agents and casting people that my body was ‘too weird’, that I had a funny accent, and that my name was too long,” Arnold said. Despite the naysayers, he worked hard throughout the 1970s to make it big and realize his dreams.
“He would write the most extraordinary targets on little index cards on January 1,” an ex-girlfriend from the time later said. “Ridiculous things, like starting a mail-order business or buying a BMW. And, by the end of the year, they’d all be done.”
A History Of Promiscuity
This ex-girlfriend, Barbara Outland Baker, would later discover that Arnold was unfaithful. Surrounded by women who were attracted to him for his physique, it was understandably hard for him to remain faithful.
Baker later published a book that outlined these transgressions, as well as illicit substance use, which can be seen featured in Pumping Iron. Schwarzenegger gracefully commented that “sometimes Barbara’s recollection of events differs from my own,” while still giving her a three-hour interview. Infidelity would haunt him later in life…
But before all of this, many years would go by between his original film debut in 1969 and his Golden Globe-winning performance in 1976’s Stay Hungry. Things really began to pick up in 1982, when he was cast as Conan in Conan the Barbarian.
Schwarzenegger followed this role up in 1984 with the sequel Conan the Destroyer, which was less of a hit than the first movie. Despite this, that same year he played in the role he is perhaps best known for…
If you guessed that this role was none other than his role in 1984’s The Terminator, you’re right! This movie rightfully solidified his place as an action hero. Alongside other actors like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold helped sate audiences’ appetite for action in the 1980s.
Unlike Stallone and others, however, Schwarzenegger’s roles reflected his good sense of humor, making him an audience favorite. Indeed, he was often cast as all-American heroes, despite the fact that his outrageous accent revealed his foreign origins.
A New Terminator
If you don’t already know the exciting news, James Cameron and Arnold are planning another Terminator movie. Filming will begin this summer, as long as the schedule pans out as intended. This will be a sequel to Terminator 2, which was arguably the best one. It will completely disregard what happened in Terminator 3, Terminator Salvation, and Terminator Genisys. Even after years of relative inactivity, Arnold is still able to bank on the classic role that has helped turn him into a cultural phenomenon.
Secret To Success
When asked about his movie career, Arnold explained that he chooses “movies people like to see. It’s that simple. You try to make sure the movies are memorable. Not just another movie.
You’ve got to have a feeling for hipness. You milk certain lines. ‘Hasta la vista, baby,’ or, ‘I lied.’ You go a little over the top. People love it. Kids love it. And you do some athletic stuff, some fitness, and people think you’re cool.” Clearly, he knows he’s talking about.
Arnold Schwarzenegger eventually married Maria Shriver in 1986, a member of the Kennedy family. In a 2009 commencement speech at the University of Southern California, Schwarzenegger humorously described three things you need to succeed:
“Number one, come to America. Number two, work your butt off. And number three, marry a Kennedy.” Following his marriage, he continued to churn out blockbusters and became immensely rich. In 2011, his net worth was appraised at anywhere between $100 million and $800 million. But his alleged womanizing ways would threaten to unravel everything…
Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger made their home in a house located in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. They had vacation homes in Sun Valley, Idaho, as well as in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.
Their first child, Katherine Eunice Schwarzenegger, was born on December 13, 1989, followed by Christina Maria Aurelia Schwarzenegger, who was born on July 23, 1991. Later, sons Patrick Arnold Shriver Schwarzenegger and Christopher Sargent Shriver Schwarzenegger were born on September 18, 1993, and September 27, 1997, respectively. While these are the only children Shriver has, Arnold eventually discovered he had another…
Shriver and Schwarzenegger actually began dating while he was in an open relationship with another woman, Sue Moray. Various women have also come out with allegations that he behaved inappropriately in the past, while others have come to his defense.
One former bodybuilding who is African-American even accused Arnold of racism. In spite of this, Schwarzenegger and his supporters insist he is neither a misogynist nor a racist…
An Illegitimate Child
Shockingly, Maria and Arnold separated in 2011. It turned out that he had sired a son out of wedlock with the family maid, Mildred Patricia “Patty” Baena. They reportedly had relations only a handful of times, and everyone assumed that the son, Joseph, was fathered by her husband, Rogelio de Jesus Baena.
What’s all the more scandalous is that Joseph was born on October 2, 1997, days after Maria and Arnold’s second son, Christopher, was born. It took Schwarzenegger seven or eight years to realize this fact, though…
The Truth Comes Out
Indeed, Schwarzenegger admitted it was only when Joseph “started looking like me, that’s when I kind of got it. I put things together.” It wasn’t until he ended his foray into politics that his wife confronted him about the affair, which happened after she had confirmed this incident vis-a-vis Baena.
Shriver described his admission as “painful and heartbreaking.” They split in May of 2011, with Maria moving into a nearby home so their children could easily go between the two parents.
What He Most Regrets
Arnold took financial responsibility for his illegitimate son from the beginning. Between Maria and Arnold, things appear to remain amicable despite the split. Schwarzenegger admitted that he had done wrong, noting that this was his least proud moment.
“I’m least proud of the mistakes I made that caused my family pain and split us up.” Although he was on the top of the world, his infidelity came back to haunt him. As inspirational as he is for his accomplishments, his mistakes should also serve as a warning.
“He’s terrific and he totally understands the situation,” Arnold said about Joseph in 2015. When he was told who his real father was by his mother, Joseph reportedly replied, “Cool.”
Several years after the scandal broke, Schwarzenegger concluded that “it all has worked out. It’s a very tough situation for [Joseph]. It’s a very tough situation for my kids, very tough situation for my family. It was tough for everybody. But it has happened and now we have to figure it out, right?”
Preserving The Family Unit
That’s really the best thing for everyone, despite it all. Daughter Katherine has said, “My parents were very, very big on making sure that we remained a family unit no matter what happened and they did a really good job at that.”
“We’ve remained very, very normal and we just have a lot of love for each other. We’re overly obsessed with each other … they did a great job, both my parents … maintaining our family unit.”
Chris Pratt, Future Son-In-Law
Maria Shriver set up her oldest daughter, Katherine, with another action superstar, Chris Pratt. The cute couple recently announced that they were engaged and want a religious wedding.
We’d be scared to ask the Terminator for his daughter’s hand, but Pratt and Arnold actually share a lot in common when you take into account his comedic side. Initial reports that Arnold didn’t approve were proved wrong, as he has expressed only warmth and support for the couple. Congratulations!