It's not every day that an aspiring bodybuilder gains the international fame and adoration that Arnold Schwarzenegger has since he got his start in bodybuilding in the 1960s. He far surpassed his goal of becoming a renowned bodybuilder to set physique standards that have stood the test of time. You'd also be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn't seen (or heard an impression of) his acting chops in action hits like Terminator or Predator.
And that's just the start of the list of accomplishments Schwarzenegger has under his belt. The businessman and activist has also served two terms as governor of California—a huge achievement for any American politician, let alone an Austrian immigrant from a small town who worked as a bricklayer when he was starting out in the states.
Three-month-old Arnold Schwarzenegger sleeps in his crib in November 1947 in Thal, Austria.
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At 11 years old, Schwarzenegger poses for a photo in art class in 1958 in Thal, Austria. "As children, we would be sitting in the classroom with the parents at the back," Schwarzenegger said. "If the teacher said something negative about my work, my father would come forward and smack me, as other parents would do to their kids."
Schwarzenegger poses for a portrait circa 1966 in Austria. The now-legendary bodybuilder has since disclosed that his mother wasn't as enthusiastic about his hobby as he was in the very beginning. "When I first started lifting weights in 1962, my mother cried, saying, 'Where did I go wrong? My boy has pictures of naked, oiled-up men on his wall, and all his friends have pictures of girls in their rooms,'" he said.
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Schwarzenegger pretends to drink from his Mr. Universe trophy while wearing its lid as a crown after his victory in London, England, in September 1967. It was his 1968 Mr. Universe victory that led Joe Weider to send Schwarzenegger a telegram asking him to come to America to compete in the IFBB Mr. Universe competition—a request that he happily went through with.
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Schwarzenegger poses with his Golden Glode award for Most Promising Newcomer to Films for the 1976 film Stay Hungry in Beverly Hills, CA, on Jan. 30, 1977.
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Schwarzenegger works out at Muscle Beach in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA, in August 1977. The outdoor gym became world-famous, with countless bodybuilders working out at the legendary venue.
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Schwarzenegger attended the 30th Cannes film festival in 1977 to present Pumping Iron, the docudrama that made him well-known outside of the bodybuilding world.
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Schwarzenegger holds his naturalization certificate on Sept. 16, 1983, the day he received it. Coming to America in the first place is a decision he credits fellow bodybuilding legend Joe Weider for.
"I think Joe came to look upon me as the son he never had," he said. "And I owe him so much for bringing me to America. Without Joe I wouldn’t have had the life I’ve had."
Sunset Boulevard / Getty
Schwarzenegger's role in Terminator may be his most well-known, even leading to the nickname "The Governator" when he served as Governor of California for two terms. But even before the movie was made, he had the drive of the titular character.
"From 1970 on, my instinct was to win: eliminate anyone who was in competition, destroy your enemy, and move on without any hesitation at all," he said. "I was the Terminator years before the movie was made."
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With one day remaining before the October 7 recall election of Gov. Gray Davis, the would-be Governator took a one-day fly-around through California. Here, he greets supporters during a rally in San Bernardino, CA.
"It was like it was meant to be. I had resigned myself to wait until ’06, but the opportunity just opened up right before me. It was like, 'Come and get it. What do you want, a written invitation?'" [In regard to the incumbent California governor, Davis, being recalled in 2003, motivating Arnold to enter and win the election.]
Justin Sullivan / Getty
Schwarzenegger was sworn in as the 38th governor of California on Nov. 17, 2003, in Sacramento, CA, after defeating former California governor Gray Davis in a historic recall election in October.
"There is no school to go to that teaches you how to be a governor. Sitting in that office and that building, with all its history, can be a little overwhelming," he said. Apparently, even the Terminator can be intimidated.
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Schwarzenegger attends the Escape Plan screening and red carpet during Comic-Con International 2013 in San Diego, CA. The film marked the first time that Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone co-starred. In the '80s, the two were locked in an action-movie showdown, according to Schwarzenegger.
"Back in the ’80s, I always tried to outdo Sylvester Stallone on the physique side; or who had the most awesome weapons in a movie; how many people we killed in a movie; who killed the villain in the most outrageous or funny way; whose movie grossed the most," he said. "It was crazy, intense competition, an all-out war in a sense."
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