Arnold Schwarzenegger is many things to many people: to some he is the ultimate Hollywood action hero movie star, to others he is a successful politician and former two-time Governor of California. Fans of bodybuilding regard him as the Muhammad Ali of their sport, arguably the greatest of all time. Many see Arnold as an entrepreneur par excellence, a man who has been a runaway success in every venture he has approached.
At 2ndPassports.com, we see Arnold as a glowing example of what we are all about, not settling for the hand or citizenship – that you were dealt at birth, and daring to dream of a new life in another country, then having the drive and desire to fulfil that dream.
Arnold: The Early Years
Post WW2 Austria in 1947 the year Arnold was born – was probably not too dissimilar to any number of third world countries that have been ripped apart by war today. To make matters worse, Austria was a humbled, defeated nation, ostracized from much of Europe as Nazi Germany’s cohorts, and the birthplace of deposed Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler no-less.
Schwarzenegger’s father was the local policeman in the tiny village of Thal in Southern Austria, and because of this the family enjoyed a certain status in the community. The young Arnold was a good looking kid with a gregarious, outgoing personality, a natural extrovert who felt stunted by his overbearing, strict father and staunch protestant home life. Even as a youngster Arnold set his sights on pastures new and dreamed of travelling to that mythical nation of America, home of his boyhood hero, John Wayne.
Naturally big and strong, the young Arnold was a natural at sports, and excelled at ice hockey and soccer. In order to fill out his tall frame, at the age of 13 he was encouraged to take up weight training, and there began his love of bodybuilding.
The Bodybuilding Bug
Schwarzenegger soon became enamored with the images he found in magazines of early muscle stars like Steve Reeves, John Grimek and particularly Reg Park, star of the Italian made Hercules movies.Â These magazines depicted a world of bronzed musclemen on golden Californian beaches surrounded by smiling, beautiful women and the young Austrian knew that that was the life he wanted, and he would one day have.
Soon the teenage Arnold was spending more time in the gym than he was playing sports, and despite the consternation of his parents, began competing in bodybuilding competitions in Austria and Germany. While bodybuilding is still something of a niche sport today, back in the 1960s the pastime was looked upon suspiciously and participants were often seen as freaks and narcissists.
Nevertheless Arnold was bitten by the bodybuilding bug, and luckily for him, he turned out to be a genetic freak unlike the sport had ever seen. His progress was rapid, and by the age of 18 he was Junior Mr. Europe. The following year he travelled to London and came second in the Mr. Universe, one of only three defeats he would suffer. By 1967 Arnold was Mr. Universe aged just 20, and had grabbed the attention of billionaire health and fitness guru Joe Weider, who sent him a one-way ticket to his California offices.
As we have established, the young Schwarzenegger had long dreamed of America not just as a place to visit but to live his life and make his home. Arnold and America were seemingly synonymous; the USA was big, bold, brash, with the capacity for anything and everything, and so was Schwarzenegger. The fact that he barely spoke a word of English was not an issue!
Joe Weider signed the 20-year old Arnold to a long-term lucrative contract, and set out to make the handsome 6’2, 240 lb. Austrian the face of his company by putting him on the cover of magazines and using his image to promote everything from exercise equipment to protein powder. It worked.
Schwarzenegger’s looks, physique and charisma propelled the sport of bodybuilding to a level of popularity it had never previously reached. He won the coveted Mr. Olympia title a record six times, and retired right at his peak in 1975 aged just 28. He had conquered the world of bodybuilding, earned himself a green card, made America his home and become a multi-millionaire, but as it turned out, Arnold was only just getting started!
Ever since childhood, Schwarzenegger had set his sights on becoming a movie star, and had even enjoyed some success in the mid-70s with small parts, most notably playing a version of himself in the 1976 Jeff Bridges vehicle Stay Hungry. The groundbreaking 1977 documentary Pumping Iron followed Arnold as he prepared for and competed in his final Mr. Olympia, and revealed a man of exceptional screen presence, presumably a star in the waiting.
Initially Arnold seemed the most unlikely candidate for the role of a Hollywood action hero. Despite hours of acting lessons his delivery would always be somewhat wooden, and try as he might, he would never quite lose that thick Germanic accent (probably by choice). Plus there was the fact that he was physically more massive than anything Hollywood had seen before.
A couple of Conan movies did okay in Europe but failed to set the US box office alight. Arnold’s movie career was going nowhere when a young director named James Cameron cast Arnold in what proved to be the perfect role, as a monosyllabic cyborg killing machine in the movie Terminator, and the rest is history. The movie was a smash hit, and overnight Schwarzenegger became a huge box office draw.
Hit after hit followed, including Commando, Raw Deal, Predator, The Running Man, Red Heat, Twins, Total Recall and Kindergarten Cop all topping the US box-office , and by the time Arnold agreed to reprise his role as the cyborg in Terminator 2 in 1991, he had become the highest paid actor in the world, and the no.1 star in Hollywood.
The hit movies continued well into the 90s with smash hits like True Lies, Eraser and Junior, but Schwarzenegger, who had always had a strong interest in politics and had married into the Kennedy clan when he wed US TV news anchor Maria Shriver, now turned his attention to campaigning for office, and targeted the leadership of the sixth biggest economy in the world, the state of California.
Of course, America had seen movie stars become politicians before. Republican Ronald Regan was a Hollywood leading man from the late 1930s right through to the 60s before he himself became Governor of California, going on to be elected President of the United States in 1980. Now Arnold, himself a republican, set out to replicate Reagan’s achievement, although as an Austrian he knew his political scope would be limited in the US and he wouldn’t be able to run for President.
Schwarzenegger had firsthand experience of US politics, having been appointed Chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports during the Presidency of George Bush Senior from 1990 to 1993. That position involved travelling across the United States promoting physical fitness and lobbying all 50 state governors in support of school fitness programs.
In 2001 Schwarzenegger was asked to run for governor by the California Republican Party, and in 2003 he won 48% of votes in the elections, claiming 4.2 million votes, almost twice that of nearest rival Cruz Bustamante.Â Arnold would ultimately serve two terms as California governor and remain in office until 2010.
Schwarzenegger would be the first to admit that while he was honored to have been granted such a privileged position, he found the experience frustrating, but he was nevertheless a well-liked and popular governor who will be remembered for making California a world leader on renewable energy, and for playing a major role in combating climate change with the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, showing eco awareness when many of his political contemporaries were pretending such issues were either exaggerated of simply did not exist.
The Ultimate Dual Citizen
Since returning to acting, Arnold has been busy starring in a string of movies, and while not quite the box-office attraction he was in the 90s, he is still very much in demand. His roles have included parts in Terminator Salvation, The Expendables 1, 2 & 3 and The Last Stand, and he received the best acting reviews of his career for his performance in the low-budget zombie film Maggie.
Arnold has also taken steps re-establishing his bond with Austria. He was recently pictured spending time with former heavyweight boxing champ Wladimir Klitschko at his Austrian training camp while he prepared for his proposed rematch with Tyson Fury. While Schwarzenegger has lived much longer in the US than in his native land, he has always maintained dual citizenship and remains a proud Austrian.
That pride in his heritage might be part of the reason Arnold never really tried to rid himself of his Austrian accent, no matter how excellent his command of English became. At heart, Schwarzenegger is the perfect example of what a dual citizen should be; someone who knows who they are and what they came from, someone who will always love the nation of their birth, but someone who could see the bigger picture, and realized that if they were going to fulfil their dreams, achieve their ambitions and aspirations, they would need to become a citizen of a second country, one with a level of freedom and potential for achievement far greater than that of their own.
If Arnold Schwarzenegger’s story has inspired you to consider dual citizenship, why not check out the 2ndPassports.com homepage? You will find full details of all of the very best Citizenship By Investment (CBI) programs currently available in the world. CBI is the only legal way to acquire second citizenship and the passport that will change your life forever in just a matter of months.
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