From playing the leader of an elite Special Forces team in John McTiernan’s 1987 sci-fi action movie Predator to being elected the Governor of California from 2003 to 2011, Arnold Schwarzenegger has truly done it all. He’s an actor, father, businessman, author, filmmaker, politician, and a seven-time Mr. Olympia champion. He is without question the most recognizable athlete-turned-actor of all time. Who else could make lines like “get to the chopper!” and “it’s not a tumor!” so memorable? Nobody.
In celebration of Schwarzenegger turning 72 today, we wanted to pay tribute to the iconic action star by highlighting 10 lesser-known facts about his fascinating and inspiring life. Enjoy!
10 He Has A Strange Batman & Robin Souvenir
1997’s Batman & Robin widely considered one of the worst superhero films ever made, Joel Schumacher and George Clooney apologizing for how terrible the film turned out, Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of Dr. Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze
During an interview with the producer, Peter MacGregor-Scott revealed Arnold desperately wanted to take one of the Mr. Freeze costumes home, so he and the studio worked out a pretty sweet deal.
Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted a costume of Mr. Freeze. It went all the way up to the top of the studio. He had to sign a contract, and I think he pays $1 per year to borrow the costume. The lights in those costumes last 9,000 hours. He doesn’t have them on all day long but he does turn them on quite frequently.
9. He Auditioned for The Incredible Hulk
As much as we love Arnold, we’re extremely glad this never happened. Before casting Lou Ferrigno in the 1970s TV series The Incredible Hulk, Schwarzenegger auditioned and was at one time considered for the role Hulk, but producer and writer Kenneth Johnson felt he wasn’t tall enough and cast the 7’2″ Richard Kiel (Happy Gilmore) instead. Shortly after, it was pointed out that although Kiel was tall, he lacked the build to play Hulk, so the 6’5″ Ferrigno got the role
The series ran for seasons and also starred Bill Bixby as Dr. Bruce Banner.
8. Arnold’s Bodybuilding Idols
Even though he’s arguably the most recognizable and successful athletes-turned-actors of all-time, Schwarzenegger has always been quick to credit those that that came before him. Growing up, he would frequent the movie theatre to watch films featuring Steve Reeves, Reg Park, and Johnny Weissmuller, all of which turned impressive athletic careers to successful acting careers.
Pictured below is a photo of fellow Olympians Johnny Weissmuller (left) and Duke Kahanamoku (right) at the 1924 Olympic games. After retiring from competitive swimming Weissmuller famously went on to play Tarzan in an incredible twelve films.
7. The Austrian Army
In Austria, all males are required to devote one year to the military when they turn 18 years old. Unfortunately for Schwarzenegger, at the time of his eighteenth birthday, his bodybuilding career was beginning to take off. Desperate to reach his goals, Arnold went AWOL and was thrown in military jail for a week after leaving to compete in the Junior Mr. Europe contest – which he won. One year after winning the Junior Mr. Europe, Arnold went on to win Mr. Europe as well.
Looking back on the decision, Schwarzenegger has said, “participating in the competition meant so much to me that I didn’t carefully think through the consequences.”
6. His Brother’s Son, Patrick
After the older brother Meinhard died in a tragic car accident on May 20, 1971, Schwarzenegger didn’t hesitate to offer his support to his brother’s then 3-year-old son Patrick Knapp (Schwarzenegger) by paying for his education and later immigrate to America to attend the University of Southern California School of Law, which he graduated in 1995 with a Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.).
In 2017, Patrick acted as an advisor to his uncle, alongside Warren Buffett, Tyra Banks, Steve Ballmer, Jessica Alba on Season 8 of The New Celebrity Apprentice.
5. Golden Globe Winner
Despite previously appearing in Hercules in New York (1969), The Long Goodbye (1973), and Happy Annivresary and Goodbye (1974), Schwarzenegger was nominated for and won a Golden Globe for “Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture” for his portrayal of Joe Santo in Bob Rafelson’s 1976 comedy-drama Stay Hungry, starring Jeff Bridges and Sally Field.
In the film, Arnold plays an Austrian bodybuilder with a nonchalant lifestyle who is training for a Mr. Universe competition… so basically he plays himself. The role eventually led to him landing a starring role alongside Lou Ferrigno in the 1977 docudrama, Pumping Iron.
4. His Successful Bricklaying Business
Back in 1968, at the age of only 21, Schwarzenegger and a fellow bodybuilder Franco Columbia opened a bricklaying business that quickly flourished because of the pair’s expert-marketing tactics and a big jump as a result of the devastating events of the 1971 San Fernando earthquake.
Although the bricklaying business was doing much better than either could have expected, the two men decided to leave it behind and use the profits to start a mail-order business of fitness equipment, books, instructional tapes and more to reach new levels of success.
3. Stuntmen Wanted
In the early days of his career, Arnold was forced to perform the majority of his stunts because it was so difficult to find someone that matched his look and size. During the filming of 1984’s The Terminator, Schwarzenegger filmed a scene where he was asked to punch through a car window, which he did. It was later revealed in the film’s special features that director James Cameron didn’t have permits to film in the street, so they had no choice but to film quickly and didn’t have time to set prop glass for the shot.
Eventually, body doubles and stunt performers Billy D. Lucas, Joel Kramer, and Peter Kent were hired to be on Schwarzenegger’s team.
2. Lance Henriksen As The Terminator?
Although it might be hard to imagine, Schwarzenegger wasn’t James Cameron’s first choice to play the Terminator, he had had his sights set on Lance Henriksen, best known for playing Bishop in the Alien film franchise and Frank Black in TV series Millennium.
Initially, Cameron envisioned someone for the role that looked like just an average person, but after meeting Arnold in person for the first time, the iconic director quickly changed his mind. Interestingly enough, Schwarzenegger was originally being considered for the role of Kyle Reese, but Cameron hated that idea and insisted they cast Michael Biehn instead.
1. He Was Credited As Arnold Strong
Schwarzenegger is one of the most recognizable and beloved actors on the planet, but when he first arrived in Hollywood in the early ’70s, he was told that he’d never make it because he was too muscular, his accent was too heavy, and his last name would be difficult and confusing for people pronounce. As a result, when Austrian native made his debut in the 1969 fantasy comedy Hercules in New York, he decided to go with the name “Arnold Strong.”
Following the film, the former seven-time Mr. Olympia champion decided to revert to his real name and roll the dice and we’re glad he did. Nowadays the Schwarzenegger name is one of the most distinguished in Hollywood and synonymous with the action hero genre.