45 Impossibly Huge Facts About Arnold Schwarzenegger

April 1, 2019 | Mathew Burke

45 Impossibly Huge Facts About Arnold Schwarzenegger

“The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else. I hate that.”

Actor. Producer. Businessman. Philanthropist. Activist. Bodybuilder. Politician.

For an immigrant who was initially known primarily for his ability to lift very heavy things, Arnold Schwarzenegger has had an incredible life that has included being one of the biggest action stars the world has ever known as well as serving two terms as the Governor of California. Despite being from Austria, he is the human embodiment of the American Dream.

Here are a few things you may not have known about “The Governator.”

45. Party Pooper

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s father, Gustav, served in World War II as a Hauptfeldwebel, after voluntarily joining the Nazi Party in 1938. He was later discharged in 1941, after suffering a bout of malaria.

How's that for a bummer to start this list? Not that we're in any way implying that the choices Arnold's father made are reflective of who Arnold is. Still, you have to admit it's surprising to learn that one of your favorite actors is the son of a National Socialist!

Arnold Schwarzenegger facts Getty Images

 Germany during World War 2.

44. In Rod We Trust

According to Schwarzenegger, his parents were very strict.

Here's how he described it: “Back then in Austria, it was a very different world… if we did something bad or we disobeyed our parents, the rod was not spared.”

Physical ramifications for bad behavior were just par for the course in the Austria of Arnold's youth.

Arnold Schwarzenegger facts Shutterstock

43. It’s Meinhard Knock Life

Arnold's father, Gustav, had a clear preference for his eldest son, Meinhard. It apparently stemmed from his unfounded suspicion that Arnold was not his biological son.

Oof. That would make family dinners pretty brutal.

Arnold Schwarzenegger facts Shutterstock

42. Somewhere to Put the Magnets

Schwarzenegger’s family was not well off. Even by the standards of Austria between World War 1 and 2.

Arnold has recalled that one of the highlights of his youth was the day his family bought a refrigerator. As in, the thing that keeps your food cold.


Arnold Schwarzenegger facts Pixabay

41. Basically the Plot of “Big”

Schwarzenegger started lifting weights when he was 14 years old.

How does that happen? Well, his dad wanted him to be a police officer, while his mother wanted him to go to trade school. Obviously, they weren't considering the third option: become an internationally renowned bodybuilder-cum-political activist.  Hence, with the wisdom of a 14-year old, he decided to make a career out of being an absolutely massive human.

Seems to have worked out so far.

Arnold Schwarzenegger facts Getty Images

40. Breaking, Entering, and Lifting

He was so dedicated as a teenager that when the local gym was closed he would break in to work out. “It would make me sick to miss a workout,” he said. “I knew I couldn’t look at myself in a mirror the next morning if I didn’t do it.”

That sounds… healthy.

Arnold Schwarzenegger facts Shutterstock

39. Behind Barbells

Schwarzenegger served in the Austrian Army for a year, as part of the mandatory service requirement for all 18-year old Austrian males. He went AWOL during basic training so he could compete in the Junior Mr. Europe contest and spent a week in military prison.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsFlickr

38. Don’t Skip Leg Day!

In his first Mr. Universe competition, Schwarzenegger came second to Chester Yorton because Yorton’s leg definition was judged to be superior.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsShutterstock

37. The Big Bang

With a new training regimen that sculpted his legs into text book examples of perfect human legs, Schwarzenegger took his first Mr. Universe title at the age of 20, the youngest ever.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsWikimedia Commons, Madison Square Garden Center

36. Who Knew?

Back when Arnold was still adjusting to speaking a new language, he frequently told his English coach, Roger C. Field, about his biggest ambition: that he was “going to become the greatest actor.”

That says a lot about Schwarzenegger's character. At a time when many people would be struggling with the simple hardship of getting used to life in a new country, Arnold was already dreaming about and working towards becoming an actor... in a language he barely knew!

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsWikipedia

35. Scaling Mount Olympus

At the age of 23, Schwarzenegger captured his first Mr. Olympia title, which he would go on to win another six times.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsPixabay

34. Arnold Got Stoned... Kind Of

Arnold once won the Munich stone-lifting contest, in which he lifted a 560 lb stone between his legs.

Never heard of a stone-lifting contest? You've been missing out. It's basically exactly what it sounds like: dozens of absolutely massive gentlemen struggle to lift up hunks of rock, all in front of an adoring crowd.

It's basically the geological olympics.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsWikimedia Commons, Indalecio Ojanguren

33. Not That There’s Anything Wrong with That

In 1977, Arnold made an interesting life decision: he posed nude for the gay magazine “After Dark."

Not that there's anything wrong with the magazine's demographic. You just have to assume that, had he known he would one day run for political office, Arnold may have wanted to negotiate the "nude" part of the job.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsPixabay

32. TMI

Schwarzenegger struggled with anxiety and learned how to overcome it when a friend taught him Transcendental Meditation.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsShutterstock

31. Hulk Sad

Schwarzenegger was convinced to compete in his 6th Mr. Olympia in 1975 by filmmakers George Butler and Robert Fiore to make the bodybuilding documentary Pumping Iron.  He handily beat Lou Ferrigno, the future Hulk, and then retired from bodybuilding until 1980.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

30. Kleenex

Schwarzenegger admitted to using anabolic steroids when they were legal. He called the drugs “tissue building.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

29. Mute Button

In his first film, “Hercules in New York,” Schwarzenegger’s accent was so thick that his lines had to be dubbed after production. In his second film, he played a deaf-mute.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsShutterstock

28. Don’t Stop Believing

Schwarzenegger has discussed his early struggles in developing his acting career: "It was very difficult for me in the beginning – I was told by agents and casting people that my body was 'too weird', that I had a funny accent, and that my name was too long. You name it, and they told me I had to change it. Basically, everywhere I turned, I was told that I had no chance.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

27. Set it to Cimmerian

Schwarzenegger broke through with the 1982 sword-and-sorcery epic “Conan the Barbarian” which was a box office hit. This was followed with a sequel, “Conan the Destroyer,” which did not destroy at the box office.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsConan the Barbarian, Universal Pictures

26. He’ll be Back

In 1984, Arnold appeared in James Cameron’s “The Terminator,” in what many would say is his career’s signature role.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsFlickr

25. Show Me the Money

When he did, indeed, come back as the title character in 1991’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” he hit his commercial peak as the Terminator sequel was the highest grossing film of that year with a box office of $519.8 million.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsWikipedia

24. An Argument for Immigration

In 1993, he was named by the National Association of Theater Owners as the “International Star of the Decade.” Not bad for an immigrant with a weird shaped body, a too long name, and a funny accent.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

23. Conan the Republican

Schwarzenegger became a Republican because the Democrats of the 1960s were far too similar to the Austrian socialists he had left behind in his home country. He was inspired hearing Nixon talking about free enterprise, getting the government off your back, and strengthening the military.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

22. He’s Here to Pump… You Up!

Arnie’s first political appointment was as chairman on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

21. The Cimmerian Candidate

When Schwarzenegger first announced his candidacy for the 2003 California recall election for Governor of California, it made national and international news, with budding comedians in the media quickly dubbing him “The Governator” and “The Running Man”... and referring to the ensuing recall election as “Total Recall.”


Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

20. Landslide

Schwarzenegger won the election by 1.3 million votes becoming only the second foreign-born governor of California since 1862.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

19. Political Rollercoaster

Schwarzenegger won some early political victories by repealing an unpopular increase in the vehicle registration tax and preventing driver’s licenses from being issued to illegal immigrants. However, he started to feel backlash when powerful state unions began to oppose him. After a special election he called in 2005, in which four ballot measures he sponsored were defeated, Schwarzenegger accepted personal responsibility and later commented, “no one could win if the opposition raised 160 million dollars to defeat you.” It was later found that the unions’ use of compulsory fundraising during the campaign had actually been illegal. Vindication!

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

18. Reaching Across the Aisle

Against the advice of his fellow Republican strategists, Schwarzenegger appointed Susan Kennedy, a Democrat, as his Chief of Staff.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

17. Take Two

As he moved towards the political center, Schwarzenegger won re-election with 56% of the vote compared to 38.9% for his opponent Angelides. It was a margin of well over a million votes.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

16. Gasta La Vista

In 2006, Schwarzenegger signed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, creating the nation’s first cap on greenhouse gas emissions. He also signed another bill prohibiting large utilities and corporations in California from making long-term contracts with suppliers who do not meet the state’s greenhouse gas emission standards. The two bills were part of a plan to reduce California’s emissions by 25%.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

15. Small Shoes to Fill

In addition to fighting global warming through politics, Schwarzenegger also took steps to reduce his personal carbon footprint by adapting one of his Hummers to run on hydrogen and another to run on biofuels.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsWikimedia Commons, SPÖ Presse und Kommunikation

14. We Can Dream

Because he is not a natural born American citizen, Schwarzenegger cannot run for president. However, he was portrayed as the president in both “The Simpsons” and “Demolition Man.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsShutterstock

13. True Lies

In an April 2010 report, ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Schwarzenegger one of the 11 “worst governors” in the United States because of various ethics issues during his terms as governor.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsShutterstock

12. Can’t Please Everyone

Although he began his tenure as governor with a record-high 89%, he left with a record low 23%.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

11. Leaf Him Alone

In an interview with GQ magazine in October 2007, Schwarzenegger said, "Marijuana is not a drug. It's a leaf. My drug was pumping iron, trust me." His spokesperson later said the comment was meant to be a joke. A hilarious joke. If you’re high.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsShutterstock

10. Your Clothes. Give Them To Me Now!

During his initial campaign for governor, allegations of sexual and personal misconduct were raised against Arnie, dubbed “Gropegate,” because the name “Predator” had already been taken.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

9. Putting the Buff in Buffet

Schwarzenegger is quite the savvy businessman, starting with bricklaying business, then a mail order business, a real estate investment venture, a chain of international theme restaurants, a shopping mall, a sports festival, and a movie production company. Before his divorce, he was worth anywhere between $400 and $800 million.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsPixabay

8. Little Hummer Boy

Schwarzenegger was the first civilian to purchase a ‘Humvee’. He was so enamored with the vehicle, that he lobbied AM General to produce a street-legal, civilian version, which they did in 1992. Because when Arnie wants a Hummer, he gets a Hummer.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsPixabay

7. It’s Me or the Kennedy

Schwarzenegger was in an open relationship with Sue Moray, a Beverly Hills hairdresser’s assistant, when he met Maria Shriver at a tennis tournament. He dated both women for a year until Moray issued an ultimatum. Schwarzenegger ended up marrying Shriver. So… oopsies.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

6. What Dreams May Come

Schwarzenegger has apparently been lobbying legislators for a possible constitutional change that would allow him to run for president or has been considering filing a legal challenge to the provision. A Columbia University law professor noted that while, “the law is very clear, it’s not a hundred percent clear that the courts would enforce the law rather than leave it to the political process.” “The Simpsons” already predicted Donald Trump. Perhaps they can go two for two.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images

5. Now with 50% More Heart!

Schwarzenegger was born with a bicuspid aortic valve, an aortic valve with only two leaflets. A normal aortic valve has three leaflets. In 1997, he opted for a replacement heart valve made of his own transplanted tissue, opting against a permanent mechanical valve as it would limit his ability to exercise and physical activity.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsPixabay

4. Elephant Love

Arnold’s safari vehicle was charged by an elephant while he was in South Africa. Arnold, being an absolute legend, chuckled as the elephant chased the vehicle, then took some time to talk about how important elephant conservation is.

"I couldn't have written this safari encounter better if it was a movie. I'm absolutely in awe of these beautiful, strong animals, even though some of us had to change our pants after this. We need to stop killing them — take a photo, not a shot. Would you rather be able to experience these creatures or a hunk of ivory? I thought so."

You can check out the video of the elephant encounter below.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsPixabay

3. Last Action Hero

In 2004, Schwarzenegger saved a drowning man in Hawaii by swimming out and bringing him back to shore.

Arnold Schwarzenegger facts

2. Trying Abstinence on for Size

Schwarzenegger did not vote for Donald trump in the 2016 US Presidential election, the first time he did not vote for the Republican candidate since becoming a citizen in 1983.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsShutterstock

1. The Baena of Maria’s Existence

Twenty-five years after marrying Arnold, his wife Maria Shriver was horrified to learn that he had actually slept with the housekeeper Mildred Patricia Baena. Not only that, but he had fathered a son with her fourteen years earlier, which his wife didn't know about.

Although Baena was the housekeeper, Shriver kept the house.

Arnold Schwarzenegger factsGetty Images


Sources: 1

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