Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rise to prominence epitomizes a story of success for foreign nationals who have migrated to the United States. Formerly an actor and action star, he currently serves as the 38th governor of California. As a household name and icon, his style, personality and accomplishments have earned him a place in history. His Austrian manner of speech, so recognizable to his audience, allows for many hilarious cartoon characters to use the famous “Ahnold” accent in their skits. As an ode to the Terminator movies, the media jokingly nicknamed him the “Governator.”
Born on July 30, 1946, in Graz, Austria, Schwarzenegger was the second son of a police officer. He attributed much of his success and character to the strict moral upbringing his parents provided. He grew up in a small village but very soon grew restless with his surroundings. Interested in physical fitness from an early age, he turned to bodybuilding as a way to a better life.
Schwarzenegger’s first encounter with success happened when he was a bodybuilder. His start in professional competition began when he won the Junior Mr. Europe contest in 1965. At 20 years old, he was the youngest person to win the competition. He came to America after his win.
Encouraged by the win, Schwarzenegger then worked toward the goal of molding himself into the greatest bodybuilder in the world. He won the Mr. Olympia title from the years 1971 to 1975. After that he retired from professional bodybuilding. He filmed a few promotions for muscle supplements and soon became interested in acting.
Schwarzenegger had a slow start in the motion picture industry because of his difficult-to-pronounce name and thick accent. His breakout role came with the 1982 film Conan the Barbarian. The role led to his casting in many over-the-top action films. His action films often alternated violence with lighter, funny situations, and they made him one of the most successful movie stars in the business. He starred in several movies, the most well known being as the cyborg in the first three Terminator films. Phenomenally successful, the films broke records as one the most profitable franchises in history.
Naturalized in 1983, Schwarzenegger holds dual Austrian and United States citizenship. He holds a B.A. in Business and International Economics from the University of Wisconsin.
Schwarzenegger married television journalist and niece of former president John F. Kennedy on April 26, 1986. They have four children.
Schwarzenegger ran for governor in the California recall against beleaguered governor Gray Davis in 2003. Davis, hammered by the electricity crisis and the budget crisis caused by the dot-com bubble burst, was being recalled. Schwarzenegger won the race and assumed office as elected Governor of California on October 7, 2003.
As governor, Schwarzenegger implemented many progressive policies. Some notable accomplishments he made in office include implementation of aggressive environmental policies and investments in state infrastructure. He actively markets California commodities and technology.
Governor Schwarzenegger signed legislation making the state’s school nutrition standards the most progressive in the nation. California also started the first comprehensive after-school program in the nation during his term.
Some statistics that indicate his success include the fact that California’s Gross State Product grew 29% since the governor took office in 2003. He was elected in 2006 to serve a full term as governor, and won a second term in 2007. Governor Schwarzenegger plans to run for a Senate seat after he reaches his term limit as governor.