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Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:
Actor. (b. July 30, 1947, Graz, Austria.) He had a name you couldn't pronounce, an accent you couldn't cut, and a body out of a Frank Frazetta painting, yet this worldchampion bodybuilder defied all the naysayers to become the undisputed Biggest Movie Star in the World, as well as a restaurateur, political activist, and leading spokesman for physical fitness. The product of a difficult childhood, he turned to weight training as both an escape and a self-esteem booster. Coming to America to make his fortune, Schwarzenegger landed the title role in the low-budget, barely released Hercules in New York (aka Hercules Goes Bananas 1970), billed as Arnold Strong. The movie revealed two things: his impressively sculptured body, and the fact that he couldn't act (let alone speak English). Schwarzenegger's lessthan-spectacular film debut sent him back to the weight room, and he concentrated on bodybuilding for some time thereafter, winning seven Mr. Olympia titles-a record only recently beaten-and earning the nickname "the Austrian Oak."
Writers George Butler and Charles Gaines featured him prominently in their book Pumping Iron a comprehensive examination of bodybuilding; he then made a considerable impact in the 1977 film of the same name, and was much talked about. He'd been cast as a bodybuilder (what else?) in the comedy Stay Hungry (1976, starring Jeff Bridges and Sally Field). His performance was, in the main, kindly reviewed, but Schwarzenegger still didn't actively pursue a screen career until accepting the role of the impeccably costumed Handsome Stranger in a cartoonish Western, The Villain (1979). He realized that he'd milked bodybuilding and decided to tackle a new career.
Schwarzenegger threw himself wholeheartedly into acting, beginning with roles in Scavenger Hunt (1979) and the TV movie The Jayne Mansfield Story (1980, earnestly but ineptly playing Mansfield's muscleman husband, Mickey Hargitay), then graduating to the title role of 1982's sword-and-sorcery blockbuster Conan the Barbarian and its 1984 sequel, Conan the Destroyer Later in 1984 he starred in The Terminator a sci-fi actioner that cast him as an unstoppable killer robot from the future; its success made him a superstar and gave him a signature line-"I'll be back!"-that he managed to work into many subsequent films for a knowing laugh. In fact, Schwarzenegger's sense of humor (even about himself) set him apart from the other pumped-up action stars of the 1980s. He played a Conan-like barbarian in Red Sonja (1985), and then churned out a string of blood-and-wisecracks blockbusters including Commando (also 1985), Raw Deal (1986), Predator, The Running Man (both 1987), and Red Heat (1988). He turned to silly comedy for real in Twins (also 1988, costarring with Danny DeVito), proving he could make cash registers jingle without killing dozens of adversaries in every reel. Since then he's alternated between "serious" action films like Total Recall (1990) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), which have been hugely successful, and "lighter" fare like Kindergarten Cop (1990), a modest hit, and the overblown, tongue-incheek Last Action Hero (1993), a colossal fiasco that had the media clucking that even the mighty Arnold could fail. In 1994 he reteamed with Terminator's James Cameron for the smash hit True Lies then starred as a pregnant man in Junior.
Though he does not officially produce his films, Schwarzenegger pretty much calls all the shots, right down to planning publicity, and he has dabbled in directing for TV (an episode of "Tales From the Crypt" and the 1992 remake of Christmas in Connecticut as a possible prelude to big-screen helming. In 1990 he was named chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness, and his lengthy association with Republican politics sparked rumors that he might someday run for office. Ironically, he is married to TV journalist Maria Shriver, one of the (Democratic) Kennedy clan.