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Arnold Schwarzenegger - an American Dream

From Jennifer Leavitt-Wipf,
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Hasta La Vista, Baby

These goodbye words from Terminator 2 seem to perfectly match Arnold’s career, a splendid tale of “see you agains,” but in different circumstances. We first saw him as an Austrian immigrant in the 60's, flexing his muscles for a living and winning the Mr. Universe and the Mr. Olympia titles several times, at the same time making the sport of body building more popular. In the 80's, producers in the Hollywood movie industry had a nose for Arnold’s success as an action movie star, and what followed were the hugely popular “Terminator” movies. To most people, it would have seemed unlikely that a guy with an accent as thick as Sacher Torte (Viennese chocolate cake) would hit the box office by saving the world from the future with many guns and few words.

Now, in the beginning of the 21st century, he is trying to save California from its deficit and the dwindling economy as the new governor, smoking cigars and driving hydrogen-fueled Hummers. And, if this weren’t enough, this socially liberal Republican married a Democrat from the Kennedy clan, Maria Shriver, a former news anchor and now-mother of their four children. What’s next? President of the United States? Since he tried to get into the governor’s seat in Sacramento, many people have been speculating about this scenario, but let’s focus on his accomplishments to date.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career reads like the American dream, a dream that is realized day by day with many individuals that came to the United States to create a new life. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first life starts on July 30, 1947 in Thal, a small village outside Graz in the state of Styria, Austria. At an early age, he shows an interest in sports and especially in working out. As a teenager, he decides to become the “most pumped up guy in the world.” While many others of his generation smoke dope, practice free love and protest against the Vietnam War and capitalism, he goes on to win several titles in bodybuilding, among them the European Mr. Universe in 1968. After that, he moves to the United States, with just a duffle bag, a few dollars and little knowledge of English.

As the world soon finds out, he ends up needing more than one duffle bag for his trophies, the few dollars grow to several million, and his English is as good as anyone’s, not counting his accent, which adds to his popularity. Between 1970 and 1980, he wins the prestigious Mr. Olympia title seven times, appears in bodybuilding movies, including Pumping Iron, which is also published as a book that hits the New York Times bestseller list. In 1977, he meets Maria Shriver who introduces him to Special Olympics, and he becomes honorary weight-lifting coach of this organization, a title he still holds. Two years later, Arnold graduates from the University of Wisconsin Superior with a B.A. in business and international economics. He always had a keen sense for business: as early as 1967, he purchased a gym in Munich with money he had saved up, and the publicity from his 2nd place in the Mr. Universe competition tripled the membership of the gym. The following year, after he arrived in the U.S., he started a mail order business, selling body building products under the label “Arnold Strong.” Later on, he gets involved in the real estate business, a fact he cites as one of his selling points in business experience during the campaign to become governor of California. The late TV comedian Johnny Carson was one of his tenants. Never tired of exploring new areas, Arnold and his wife open "Schatzi on Main" in 1991, a restaurant in Santa Monica that serves Austrian specialties, among a diverse selection of dishes. To learn more about Austrian cuisine and its history, go to this article.

Arnold’s big day as an immigrant arrives in 1983, when he gets naturalized and receives American citizenship. Securing his ties to the United States forever, he marries Maria Shriver in 1986. His list of accomplishments continues, including many movies, the American Cinematheque Award, a leadership award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and so on. For a detailed life story and interesting facts about the “Styrian Oak,” go to Arnold’s Web site.

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