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The Untold Truth Of Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a man of many talents, but to call him a jack of all trades wouldn't be accurate. The Austrian-American star has managed to master several vocations since he arrived in the United States "with empty pockets but full of dreams." A bodybuilding champion turned entrepreneur turned movie star turned politician, Schwarzenegger can seemingly do anything he sets his mind to, though he's been open about the fact that he's made some major mistakes in his personal life.

His past was put under the microscope after he announced his intention to become the 38th governor of California, and the findings were pretty shocking. As he was running for office, Schwarzenegger admitted that he'd "sometimes behaved badly" when six women accused him of sexual misconduct in 2003. In other words, Schwarzenegger has lived a life of incredible achievements, but he has more than a few skeletons in his closet. From his tough childhood in occupied Austria and his eventful days in the military to the story behind the scandalous affair that cost him his marriage, this is the untold truth of Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger grew up poor

The term "rags to riches" is perhaps bandied about a tad too often in showbusiness, but it can be used quite literally in the case of Arnold Schwarzenegger. According to the A-lister, the house he grew up in had no running water and no bathroom. He didn't even know what a shower was until he joined a local gym at the age of 15. Like the rest of his family, he was used to washing with a rag. "This basin and a washcloth was how we bathed," he recalled in a series of tweets. "My brother and I would schlep the water from the well to the house, and then we would all clean ourselves — first my mother, then my father, then my brother, then me. The water was dirty by the time it was our turn, but my brother and I weren't going to schlep back to the well."

This wasn't the first time that Schwarzenegger talked about how growing up extremely poor affected him. When he was featured on "In Depth with Graham Bensinger" a few years earlier, he said that having next to nothing from a young age made him crave success all the more. "I think that my hunger and my desire and my fire in the belly and that nothing could stop me — I think that comes from growing up the way I did," he said.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's mother thought he was gay

According to Arnold Schwarzenegger, love was like money in his childhood home — in short supply. When he sat down for a frank interview with "60 Minutes" in 2016, he spoke of how his police chief father (who was revealed to have been a member of the Nazi party after Schwarzenegger himself requested an investigation into his wartime actives following press reports) used to physically abuse him. "He ran after me with a belt and beat me," Schwarzenegger said (via Hello!). His mother expressed concern about him ... but not because of the beatings. She was more worried about the way he admired men with muscles.

"I don't know if mum thought I was gay, or if she just thought there was something off, and 'let's catch it early,'" Schwarzenegger said. "She asked the doctor, 'Can you help me? I don't know if there's something wrong with my son because his wall is full of naked men. All of Arnold's friends have pictures of girls above their bed, and Arnold has no girls.'" Schwarzenegger continued to show a purely professional interest in his fellow bodybuilders after moving to California, where he became a regular at the famous Muscle Beach in Venice. His mother passed away in 1998 after she collapsed from a heart attack while visiting the grave of her husband, who died in 1972.

He got rich before he became famous

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a millionaire many times over nowadays, but what most people don't know about him is that his first $1 million had nothing to do with his movies. He moved to the States in 1968 at the age of 21 in pursuit of the American dream. Upon finding out that friend and fellow bodybuilder Franco Columbu was a skilled bricklayer, Schwarzenegger registered a business, and they began charging wealthy Californians inflated prices. He placed an ad in the Los Angeles Times that marketed them as "European bricklayers and masonry experts," and people bought it. Schwarzenegger told "The Tim Ferris Show" that he raked in money this way for two years, but he was still dreaming bigger.

The savvy Schwarzenegger put his bricklaying money into a mail-order business for gym equipment and then turned his attention to real estate, making some wise investments that paid off in no time at all. "I quickly developed and traded up my buildings and bought more apartment buildings and office buildings on Main Street down in Santa Monica and so on," he told Ferris for his book "Tools of Titans" (via CNBC). "I became a millionaire from my real estate investments." By the time he made his big screen debut 1970's "Hercules in New York," Schwarzenegger was already loaded.

He had a 'hot affair' with another action movie star

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Hollywood breakthrough came in 1982 when he took on the title role in Conan the Barbarian, set in Robert E. Howard's fictional Hyborian Age. The actor returned to that universe in 1985's "Red Sonja," which introduced statuesque Danish model Brigitte Nielsen. She would go on to marry Schwarzenegger's rival, Sylvester Stallone, but not before having an "outrageous affair" with the bodybuilder. In her memoir "You Only Get One Life" (excerpted by The Sun), Nielsen revealed that she and Schwarzenegger got pretty freaky during the filming of the sword-and-sorcery epic.

"We both knew that when the film was finished, so were we," Nielsen, who was married to composer Kasper Winding at the time of the affair, wrote. "Time was limited so we didn't hold back — we really made the most of it. The set lights would barely be off before we disappeared to do our thing. We wanted time to ourselves, and we wanted to try everything. And when we were alone, that's exactly what we did." Schwarzenegger confirmed that the pair did indeed have a "hot affair" in his own book, "Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story" (via ITV)He was dating (and already living with) future wife Maria Shriver at the time of his "fling" with Nielsen, although the "Red Sonja" actress developed a "deep sense of guilt" after it ended.

Did he really steal the Terminator role from O.J. Simpson?

Arnold Schwarzenegger has claimed on multiple occasions that when he was first approached about appearing in James Cameron's seminal sci-fi film, "The Terminator," someone else was already signed up to play the eponymous cyborg assassin. "It was actually O.J. Simpson that was the first cast Terminator," he told The Independent. "Then somehow [James Cameron] felt that he was not as believable for a killing machine. So then they hired me. That's really what happened." During his sit-down with Graham Bensinger, Schwarzenegger said that he was originally supposed to play hero Kyle Reese in the movie, but he talked so enthusiastically about the Terminator part when he met with Cameron that the director gave it to him, instead.

However, Cameron has denied that Simpson was ever officially cast in his movie, claiming that it was an idea from producers that he quickly shot down. That's not the only thing the pair has disagreed on when it comes to "The Terminator," either. Back when they were making the movie, Cameron and Schwarzenegger clashed over the latter's most famous line — Schwarzenegger thought that "I'll be back" wasn't robotic enough and wanted to say "I will be back," but Cameron wouldn't budge. Schwarzenegger delivered the line in around ten different takes, not knowing just how iconic it would become. "I had no idea that anyone would ever repeat it, period," he told GQ.

The time he accidentally drove a tank through a wall

Arnold Schwarzenegger became associated with choppers after he famously urged Elpidia Carrillo's Anna to get to one in 1987's "Predator," but tanks are the actor's first love. His "fascination" with the armored vehicles began in the aftermath of World War II, when British troops would regularly pass through the streets of his Austrian hometown. The occupiers were "very sweet to us kids," Schwarzenegger told Graham Bensinger, revealing that the Brits used to let the local youngsters climb on the tanks. He joined his own country's military as soon as he was old enough, and he set about getting a ride of his own.

Schwarzenegger was just 18 years old when he passed his tank exams, and his inexperience soon showed. In a scene ripped straight from a Hollywood comedy, the rookie accidentally reversed his tank through a garage wall, busting clean though gas and water pipes. He went straight to an officer that liked him, hoping to get a little sympathy, but when said officer saw the damage, he "almost died," according to Schwarzenegger. "He started screaming — I mean he started screaming," the actor recalled. "He almost got a heart attack." But that incident didn't affect Schwarzenegger's love for this giant armored vehicles. In 1991, Schwarzenegger paid $20,000 to ship his old army tank (an 1951 M-47 Patton, CNBC confirms) to the United States.

He tricked Sylvester Stallone into making the biggest mistake of his career

They've starred alongside each other in movies since, but Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were genuine archenemies during the height of their rivalry in the 1980s. "We were very competitive," Stallone told Jimmy Fallon. "I think 'hate' is a good word." The two action stars became involved in a game of one-upmanship that pushed their pictures into ridiculous territories. "I was running around with guns that were meant for helicopters," Schwarzenegger told Jimmy Kimmel. "It was crazy. It was all-out war." The war swung decidedly in Arnie's favor in the early '90s when he managed to trick Sly into starring in the widely panned "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.".

"I read the script, and it was a piece of s***, let's be honest," Schwarzenegger said. "They went to Sly, and Sly called me. 'Have they ever talked to you about doing this movie?' And I said, 'Yes, I was thinking about doing it, this is a really brilliant idea, this movie.' When he heard that, because he was in competition, he said, 'Whatever it takes, I'll do the movie.' And of course the movie went major into the toilet." Stallone appeared to admit that he fell hook, line, and sinker for Schwarzenegger's trick in an interview with Variety, singling out "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot" as the biggest regret of his career.

Arnold Schwarzenegger saved a man's life in a real act of heroism

He's played an action hero on the big screen on countless occasions, but during a Hawaii vacation in 2004, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a real-life hero. The then-governor of California sprang into action when he noticed a man in distress about 400 yards out to sea, commandeering a boogie board and heading straight for him. "I realized he was having trouble, and I asked him if he was in trouble, and he said he had cramps all over his body," Schwarzenegger told Hello! at the time, revealing that he stayed with the man after escorting him back to shore. "I set him on the beach and told him to relax a little because he was so out of shape. He told me that for two years he hadn't done any exercise."

One bystander told the mag that Schwarzenegger went above and beyond for the stricken tourist. "Arnold sat with this guy for quite a while as he had cramps, was breathless, and a bit shaken-up," they revealed. "He was also overawed by having just been rescued by the Terminator." "Access Hollywood" broke the story after host Pat O'Brien, who was off duty and just happened to be staying at the same hotel as Schwarzenegger and his family, got a tip. He later indicated that his source was none other than Schwarzenegger's then-wife, Maria Shriver.

His love child is a chip off the old block

Arnold Schwarzenegger sowed the seeds of his 2011 divorce from Maria Shriver over a decade earlier when he fathered a love child with Mildred Patricia Baena, the family housekeeper. In his book, Schwarzenegger revealed (via The Hollywood Reporter) that he became involved with Baena while his family was away on vacation in 1996. Baena was married at the time, so when she fell pregnant, it didn't raise any suspicions. The true identity of her son's biological dad remained a secret for years, but when the boy hit his teens, there was no more hiding it — Joseph Baena looked like Schwarzenegger. "I realized there was little doubt that he was my son," the actor said (via the New York Daily News).

Shriver realized it, too, but when she asked Schwarzenegger if he was Joseph's dad, he flat-out denied it. She clearly wasn't convinced, however. Just one day after her governor husband left office, Shriver hit him with a surprise counselling session. "The minute we sat down, the therapist turned to me and said, 'Maria wanted to come here today and to ask about a child, whether you fathered a child with your housekeeper, Mildred,'" Schwarzenegger wrote. "I told the therapist, 'It's true.'" It was the end for him and Shriver, but it was the beginning of the actor's relationship with his fifth child. "He's terrific and he totally understands the situation," Schwarzenegger told People.

A man dropkicked Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he barely noticed

Not many 71-year-old men could take an unexpected dropkick to the back and stay on their feet. Arnold Schwarzenegger went one better than that — he didn't even know that he'd been kicked. In one of the most bizarre news stories of 2019, Schwarzenegger was attacked by a man as he filmed a video on his phone at the Arnold Classic Africa sports gala in Johannesburg. The man repeatedly shouted, "Help me, I need a Lamborghini!" as he was detained. He was described as a "crazed fan" by organizers, who praised the quick actions of the security team in a statement.

In a statement of his own, Schwarzenegger revealed that he only realized he had been dropkicked when he saw the viral video. "I thought I was just jostled by the crowd, which happens a lot," he tweeted. "I'm just glad the idiot didn't interrupt my Snapchat." Video footage of the incident backs this up. The action star barely budges as the two-footed kick lands. Schwarzenegger went on to confirm that he would not be pressing charges, telling his followers that he hoped the incident would act as a "wake-up call" for his Lambo-obsessed assailant. He said, "I'm moving on, and I'd rather focus on the thousands of great athletes I met."

How Arnold Schwarzenegger's son-in-law, Chris Pratt, won him over

Asking a father for his daughter's hand in marriage is infinitely more daunting when her father is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Chris Pratt plays a superhero in the biggest Hollywood franchise in history, but even he was still nervous about seeking permission to marry author and advocate Katherine Schwarzenegger. The two men have a lot in common (Pratt went from living in a van to playing Star-Lord in the MCU), but it was their shared love of pumping iron that wound up sealing the deal. The way Schwarzenegger tells it, he was still on the fence about giving Pratt his blessing until he went for a workout with him and saw what he was capable of.

"When I watched him make his moves in the gym, the incline press specifically did it," Schwarzenegger told Jimmy Kimmel. "[That's] why I wanted him to become my son-in-law. It was the incline press." He went on to call Pratt "a strong guy," whom he's "very proud of." The Marvel star didn't need to worry about the approval of his mother-in-law, who reportedly played matchmaker for the power couple (Pratt knew Maria Shriver through church, according to The Cut). They married in June 2019 and welcomed their first child together a little over a year later.

He thinks Donald Trump is in love with him

When Donald Trump left "The Apprentice" to concentrate on his run for the White House, NBC needed a replacement with a big name and a solid track record in the business arena. Arnold Schwarzenegger seemed perfect on paper, but viewers didn't respond to the "The New Celebrity Apprentice," and Trump was quick to point that out. "Wow, the ratings are in, and Arnold Schwarzenegger got 'swamped' (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT," the then-president elect tweeted. He continued to mock Schwarzenegger after becoming president, asking people to pray for Schwarzenegger's ratings during a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Schwarzenegger used Trump's preferred medium to respond, suggesting that they "switch jobs" in a Twitter video (per Variety). "You take over TV because you're such an expert in ratings, and I take over your job, so then people can finally sleep comfortably again." Trump criticized Schwarzenegger's political career in his response, tweeting that he "did a really bad job as governor of California and even worse on 'The Apprentice.'" The Donald then took another shot at the Terminator in 2019, seemingly unprovoked. When Men's Health asked Schwarzenegger why he thought Trump kept fanning the flame of their feud, he said, "I think he really — he's in love with me. That's the reality of it. With Trump, he wants to be me."

He endured some professional indignities early in his career

The first entry in Arnold Schwarzenegger's long and very successful career is the 1970 B-movie "Hercules in New York." He portrays the titular strongman of Greek mythology, although he's billed as "Arnold Strong" and "Mr. Universe." Those stage names capitalized on Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding championship, but producers were apparently not interested in him much beyond his physical form. According to his memoir "Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story," Schwarzenegger said that producers excised all of his dialogue. "When they edited the film, they dubbed another actor's voice over mine, because my accent was too thick for anybody to understand."

A literal hulking mass, Schwarzenegger found fame portraying very big, very strong macho figures in "Conan the Barbarian," "Red Sonja," "Predator," and "True Lies." Bafflingly, Schwarzenegger missed out on a chance to play a character who was literally an incredible hulk — the Incredible Hulk. When the green, shirtless, ripped Marvel Comics superhero made his way to live-action primetime television in 1977, producers' first choice was Schwarzenegger. He ultimately lost the part to Lou Ferrigno, because at a height of 6'2" tall, he wasn't considered tall, or "hulking" enough to play the Hulk, according to PBS.

Arnold Schwarzenegger killed the Hans and Franz movie

The bombastic pop culture of the '80s gave way to the irony-and-commentary-soaked '90s. Grunge knocked hair metal off the charts, and action movies turned comic and self-conscious. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who helped establish the tropes of action movies in the '80s with the likes of "The Terminator" and "Predator," satirized the same elements in 1993 with "Last Action Hero," an oddball where he teams up with a kid sucked into movie-world who helps him navigate his cliché-ridden existence. Heralded by Entertainment Weekly and other outlets as one of the most anticipated films of the summer of '93, the $80 million movie flopped, earning $50 million in North America, suggesting that audiences didn't want Schwarzenegger in ambitious, self-aware comedies.

Schwarzenegger was so burned by his "Last Action Hero" experience that he pulled out of a similar meta comedy. "Hans and Franz: The Girly-Man Dilemma" was based on the recurring "Saturday Night Live" sketch about two Austrian-accent bodybuilders (Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon) obsessed with Schwarzenegger, who showed up for a cameo once. "The basic crux of the idea was that they wanted to become movie stars like Arnold," screenwriter Robert Smigel told The AV Club, adding that the film would consist of "a parody of Arnold's oversized action-star career." After "Last Action Hero," Schwarzenegger's agent told Smigel that the star swore to never play himself in a movie again, and "Hans and Franz" fizzled out.

Why Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to become the governor of California

An unlikely and rare confluence of events led to Arnold Schwarzenegger, an Austrian-born bodybuilder and action movie star, becoming the governor of the most populated state in the US in 2003. According to History, California voters opted to recall democratic Governor Gray Davis, the first gubernatorial redo since 1921, and held a recall election that featured a whopping 135 names on the ballot, among them veteran politicians and celebrities (including "Diff'rent Strokes" star Gary Coleman). Schwarzenegger, running as a Republican and with zero elected office experience after annoying his candidacy on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," won that special election, garnering more than 3.7 million votes.

In his 2012 memoir "Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story," Schwarzenegger said that he decided to run after a visit to George W. Bush's White House in 2003. He spoke with GOP strategist and presidential advisor Karl Rove, who told the actor that the recall election wasn't a likely occurrence, and that Republicans wanted National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to run for governor in the next general election in 2006. He was so miffed that Rove didn't consider him a viable candidate, that he decided to give it a shot when the recall wound up happening.

Arnold Schwarzenegger could have held a federal government position

A surprising California governor, but a popular one nevertheless, Arnold Schwarzenegger was easily elected to the office in 2003 and cruised to a second term in 2006 with nearly 60 percent of the popular vote — a remarkable show of support for a Republican in a state where the Democratic presidential candidate had won every election since 1992. The last time a California governor had been this well-liked was Ronald Reagan (1967-1975), who, like Schwarzenegger, was a movie star turned politician, and he'd gone on to become President of the United States. Schwarzenegger had similar ambitions, and in 2013, according to Page Six, he made overtures toward a 2016 presidential run. "He is ready to file legal paperwork to challenge the rules," a source close to the former governor said. Those would be big and complicated rules to challenge: Schwarzenegger would have had to persuade two-thirds of both chambers of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives, to rewrite the Constitution, which doesn't allow foreign-born individuals to become president.

That didn't work out, but in 2008, if John McCain had won the presidential election, there was a possibility that Schwarzenegger could have garnered a cabinet position, and thus find himself in the presidential order of succession. According to Grist (via HuffPost), high-ranking Republican operatives considered Schwarzenegger for Secretary of Energy. McCain lost the election to Barack Obama, so nothing came of it.

Arnold Schwarzenegger motivated a stranger suffering from depression

According to the BBC, Arnold Schwarzenegger sat for an "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit in August 2018 — an anything-goes conversation with readers who could ask the movie star and politician virtually any question that came to mind, with the understanding that the celebrity would answer the most interesting and provocative queries. One question, from a user with the screen name "077005983433178" (later identified as a Canadian man named Ali) proved particularly compelling to Schwarzenegger. "I know this is pandering but, I've been depressed for months and haven't hit the gym during that time," the user explained. "Mr. Schwarzenegger can you please tell me to get off my lazy a** and hit the gym? I swear to everything I hold dear that I will snap out of it and go."

Ali was looking for a little tough love from a stern-speaking fitness enthusiast, but he didn't get it. Instead, he got compassion, empathy, and practical advice. "I'm not going to be that hard on you. Please don't be that hard on yourself. We all go through challenges, we all go through failure," Schwarzenegger immediately replied. "Sometimes life is a workout. But the key thing is you get up. Just move a little. Roll out of bed and do some pushups or go for a walk. Just do something." At any rate, it worked; Ali reported that he hit the gym that very day.