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ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER Real Life Action Hero by Kaya Morgan

We all have our favorite Arnold moment, movie, or line, and some of us at one time or another wished we could be that kind of butt-kicking, no-holds-barred kind of guy. With Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines slated to be one of the blockbuster releases of the summer, Schwarzenegger will once more keep us on the edge of our seats as he forestalls the looming threat of Judgment Day — lest the world be faced with the apocalypse and fall of civilization as we know it.

This former bodybuilding champion had the biceps and the brains to get him a long way from his native Austria. Born in the city of Graz, as the second son of a police officer, Shwarzenegger's childhood was anything but easy. Raised according to very strict rules, he would tell you it was the cornerstone of his character today. The beginning of his bodybuilding career came when he wanted to join the soccer team and started lifting weights in order to build his physique, going as far as breaking into the gym on Sundays to be able to train. He became so determined to be the greatest bodybuilder in history that he would pump iron until he literally collapsed from exhaustion.

Then at 18, Schwarzenegger joined the army but went AWOL to take part in the Mr. Junior Europe bodybuilding competition, which he won by the way. His dream was realized when at age 20, he won his first Mr. Universe contest, and his destiny was already starting to pan out. This launched his weightlifting career, going on to win six consecutive Mr. Olympia titles from 1970 to 1975. And so, a legend was born. He temporarily ceased competing as he felt it "wasn't giving others a chance to win," but later went on to win the International Powerlifting Championship before he made the move to the U.S. in 1968. He has been credited with single-handedly popularizing the sport.

His bodybuilding career was merely a prelude to the enormous success he would eventually achieve as an action movie star. However, it wasn't immediate. He set his sights on Hollywood to try his hand at acting, originally billed as Arnold Strong, with a screen debut in the low-budget adventure, Hercules in New York. After a few years struggling in the film industry, he started a construction company with his long-time bodybuilding buddy, Franco Columbu. The profits were used to fund a mail order business of fitness materials, books and cassettes, and a bodybuilding equipment company. Further driven by his passion for success, he managed to obtain a degree in business and international economics from the University of Wisconsin. His rise to wealth brought him to invest his good fortune in real estate, soon living comfortably in a spectacular home on the West Coast. Due to his shrewd business investments, a constant influx of money allowed him to live the life of a superstar even before his rise to recognition as a film star.

Eventually drawn back to the movie industry by the prompting of a close friend, Schwarzenegger landed his first substantial acting role in an offbeat comedy, Stay Hungry (1976), starring Jeff Bridges and Sally Field for which he won a Golden Globe as Best New Actor. Then, in the early 1980s, he established himself as the leading figure in a new genre of Herculean action films beginning with Conan the Barbarian (1982), and its reliably rapid sequel Conan the Destroyer (1984). Later that year, he landed the role which catapulted him to superstardom — that of the indestructible cyborg in the post-apocalyptic blockbuster, The Terminator.

Over the next few years, Schwarzenegger's films became increasingly technological and violent, including Commando (1985), The Running Man (1987), and Total Recall (1990). A more humane side to Schwarzeneggar emerged with lighter films such as Twins (1988) and Kindergarten Cop (1990). With its state-of-the-art special effects and equally impressive action sequences, the 1991 sequel Terminator 2: Judgement Day featured Schwarzenegger as a gentler, kinder android. When released, the film held the notable distinction of being the most expensive film ever produced, and with over $200 million in box office sales, the returns were equally impressive, making it one of the top 20 highest-grossing films of all time.

His personal life has also turned out to be a huge success. While attending a tennis tournament, he met television journalist Maria Shriver, daughter of politician Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President John F. Kennedy. After a long and storied courtship, they wed in 1986 and Arnold became part of the Kennedy legacy, now with four children. Named chairman of President George Bush's Council on Physical Fitness in 1990, he continues to support sports programs for underprivileged children, including the Inner-City Games and the Special Olympics. His future in politics? Well, we can only speculate.

Despite the strong accent that might not help him sound like the smoothest English-speaking Casanova, everyone who comes into contact with Arnie admits that the man has an incredible presence. Now one of the most respected actors in Hollywood, he is in the comfortable position of being able to select the projects he wants to be involved in. Taking up the director's chair is also a potential goal in the near future for this man who has made his American Dream come true.

Arnold could have let his muscles do all the talking a long time ago, but instead he created a worldwide persona that has brought him countless riches and everlasting fame. Love him or hate him, Arnold Schwarzenegger is certainly a name we won't soon forget. As one of the top action stars of the 20th century, there's no doubt that when Arnold puts on his Terminator sunglasses and his leather outfit, few men are as ice cool as him.

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