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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 August, 2004, 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
Profile: Arnold Schwarzenegger
George W Bush at a fundraiser with Arnold Schwarzenegger
Schwarzenegger became a Republican star at a stroke
Arnold Schwarzenegger is to many the embodiment of the American dream.

He arrived in the US speaking no English, conquered the worlds of body building and film - becoming a millionaire property magnate along the way - and was elected governor of California in an extraordinary election in late 2003.

The victory turned him at a stroke into one of the stars of the Republican party - one of few figures from liberal-leaning Hollywood to support the Republicans rather than the Democrats.

George W Bush was quick to link himself with the politician nicknamed the Governator, in reference to one of his most famous film roles.

He flew out to California soon after Mr Schwarzenegger was elected and joked that the two had much in common: marrying well, trouble with the English language, and big biceps.

"Well, two out of three ain't bad," he added.


But the two men in fact do not see eye to eye on everything.

Mr Schwarzenegger is much more liberal than the president on social issues such as abortion, gun control and gay marriage - although he did move to block gay weddings when the city of San Francisco began issuing marriage licences.

As I've grew up, got older, maybe wiser, I think your life is judged not by how much you have taken but by how much you give back
Arnold Schwarzenegger
He was born in the small Austrian town of Thal, near Graz, on 30 July, 1947, in an ancient house with no plumbing, phone or carpeting.

His father Gustav wanted him to be a soccer player, but the young Arnold always wanted to do things his own way.

He began body building in the basement of his parents' house, winning the Mr Junior Europe contest in 1965.

Two years later he became the youngest-ever winner of the Mr Universe title.

'Proportion and perfection'

At the age of 21 he moved to the United States, dubbing himself the Austrian Oak and going on to win Mr Universe four more times.

He has said: "I was always interested in proportion and perfection."

He developed his brains as well as his brawn, graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a business and economics degree.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
He won Mr Universe five times
He invested his contest winnings in property and a mail-order body-building equipment company and became a millionaire at the age of 22.

He then embarked on an ambitious plan to conquer Hollywood.

While his physique impressed producers, his name caused immediate problems and it was changed to Arnold Strong for the 1970 low-budget spoof Hercules in New York.

His thick accent also caused a problem and he was dubbed.

His acting career seemed to be floundering but a role in the body-building film Pumping Iron in 1977 boosted his profile.


The next problem was finding a role which suited the accented, muscled Austrian and it took a script co-written by Oliver Stone to give his career lift off.

Terminator 3
Action movies made "Arnie" an international star
Conan The Barbarian, released in 1982, was the perfect vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The film spawned a sequel and led to his most influential role - as an emotionless killer robot in James Cameron's cult 1984 film The Terminator.

Cinema audiences in the 1980s had an insatiable appetite for action movies and stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone became huge international stars.

In 1987, Mr Schwarzenegger married the niece of John F Kennedy, Maria Shriver, becoming part of America's Democratic royal family.

But in 1990, when Mr Schwarzenegger started his flirtation with politics, it was in the Republican camp.

He was named by former President George Bush as chairman of the President's Council of Physical Fitness and Sports.

He also became a more public activist for the Republican party and in 2002 the actor sponsored a successful bill to provide after-school care for children.

Run for governor

But it was in 2003 that rumours of a possible political career actually became reality, when Mr Schwarzenegger announced - on US talk show host Jay Leno's programme - that he would be running for the governorship of California.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver
He became a US citizen in 1983
Mr Schwarzenegger campaigned vigorously for his victory and won with ease although critics said he had little grasp of California's economic woes.

The Los Angeles Times, opposing Mr Davis' recall, said the action star "seemed to have only a casual acquaintance with the truth as practised outside Hollywood".

It did not take long for Mr Schwarzenegger to face some skeletons in his closet. During the campaign he had to confront accusations of groping women, of drug-taking and orgies in his bodybuilding days, and of "admiring" Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

Mr Schwarzenegger vigorously denied being pro-Nazi - pointing out his contributions to Jewish groups - and offered an apology to any women who may have been "offended" by his earlier behaviour.

Reflecting on his move into politics, he said: "In the beginning I was selfish. It was all about: 'How do I build Arnold? How can I win the most Mr Universe and Mr Olympia contests? How can I get into the movies and get into business?'

"I was thinking about myself... As I've grew up, got older, maybe wiser, I think your life is judged not by how much you have taken but by how much you give back."

It is not clear how much more he can give back - although Mr Schwarzenegger has been compared to Ronald Reagan, another actor turned California governor, he is not eligible to run for US president because he is not a natural-born citizen.

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