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Jakub Paulík
August 10, 2022, 4:30pm
Reading time: 12:01

Life Of Arnold Schwarzenegger: His Nazi Father Tortured Him. The Actor Didn't Even Come To His Funeral

Fights with his father, bad relations with his brother and later problems with his psyche. Arnold experienced rough times, but he did not give up.

Jakub Paulík
August 10, 2022, 4:30pm
Reading time: 12:01
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Life Of Arnold Schwarzenegger: His Nazi Father Tortured Him. The Actor Didn't Even Come To His Funeral
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The more his tyrannical father pressured him, the more he wanted to leave Austria and become famous in the world. They didn't exactly have a good relationship, and when he died, Arnold didn't even come to his funeral. Schwarzenegger is a model of success, but even he didn't have it easy in the beginning.

He struggled with his accent, an unsuitable surname for Hollywood, but also with anxieties. We know him from movie hits, bodybuilding podiums and political appearances, but few know that in the past he appeared in "Adam's robes" and in a magazine intended for gays.


11-year old Arnold with his friends. Can you tell which boy is Arnold? Source: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty


When criticizing Russian propaganda, he remembered his Nazi father 

Many fans have wanted to know Arnold's recipe for success. “I always say to them, Well, I'll give you the short version. Come to America, work hard and marry a member of the Kennedy family," (Arnold's ex-wife Maria Shriver is the niece of ex-president John F. Kennedy) he was quoted saying to The Buffalo News.


This now 75-year-old Hollywood star was born in the small village of Thal (today the Arnold Schwarzenegger museum stands on the site) near the second largest city of Austria - Graz. His father Gustav worked as a police chief and struggled with alcoholism for many years. Before Arnold was born, he was even a member of the Nazi NSDAP for a while. He initially became a member of the SA troops and later fought in the Wehrmacht for Nazi Germany and near Leningrad, writes Newsweek.


Arnold Schwarzenegger remembered his father in 2022, when he spoke about him in a video dedicated to Russian citizens influenced by the state propaganda of Vladimir Putin's regime. "When my father arrived in Leningrad, he was completely pumped by the lies of his government, and when he left Leningrad, he was physically and mentally broken," Schwarzenegger said in one of the videos on Instagram. He pointed out considerable similarities between Nazi and Russian propaganda, which is being abused during the war in Ukraine.


Brother, mother and father of Arnold Schwarzenegger (1965) Source: Michael Ochs Archives

He did not come to the funeral of his father or brother


The actor never spoke fondly of his childhood. Relations in the family were strained mainly because of the father, who not only favored Arnold's brother Meinhard, but also beat the boys many times and provoked them against each other.

When Arnold, as a young man, wrote letters to his family from abroad, instead of loving replies, he received only a number of his father's critical remarks about his son's grammar, highlighted with a thick red marker, writes Men's Health magazine.


He never had much understanding for his son's problems. Of the pair of parents, Arnold definitely got along better with his mother Aurelia, with whom he was in contact with until her death, according to the Cheat Sheet portal.


At this point, the relationship with his brother was also quite different. He died in 1971 under the influence of alcohol as a result of a car accident. Although Arnold did not come to his brother's funeral, according to the Los Angeles Times, he made sure that his then three-year-old nephew Patrick received a proper education and also helped him with his later move to the United States.

A similar scenario was repeated with the death of his father. According to his former claim from the bodybuilding documentary Pumping Iron, he did not attend the funeral due to intensive training for an upcoming competition. However, he later admitted that the reason for not attending his father's funeral was false and the aim was to provoke conflicting reactions. But the truth remains that Arnold didn't really show up at his father's funeral.

Arnold with his son Christopher Source: IG/schwarzenegger

Beating with a belt and hair pulling 

In Arnold's youth, the parents were not entirely in agreement with their son's bodybuilding dream. Despite his father's humiliation and objections to a sports career, Arnold went for what he wanted. At one time, his mother thought he might be gay because of the posters of muscular men that filled Arnold's room. Therefore, she asked the local doctor if it was okay for his friends to have women plastered on the walls, while Arnold preferred bodybuilders, writes Digital Spy.


In 1967 came Schwarzenegger's first huge success. As a 20-year-old young man, he became the youngest winner of the Mr. Universe. It became his ticket to America, where he planned to gain wealth and fame. But to what, paradoxically, does he owe his motivation? Partly, they say, also because of the father's "toughness".

As they say - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. In Schwarzenegger's case, even in his opinion, it was doubly true. He himself says that he never felt good enough, strong enough or smart enough. His father simply always let him know that there was still room for improvement.

And that's what Arnold used as his fuel to keep improving. However, it was not at all easy to create a shield against the father's harsh approach, and certainly not every child would behave in a similar way, having experienced youth in a disharmonious family.


In an interview from 2004, he stated that what he experienced in his childhood, we could easily call it abuse nowadays, reports Daily Mail with reference to Fortune magazine. Hair pulling or beating with a belt were just some of the many examples. However, children from the neighborhood were said to have lived no differently. He spoke about these events in the interview as a sad fact that described the German-Austrian mentality of the given time.


Parents did not want to raise individual personalities from their children, but satisfactory copies. And that's why, according to his words, he became a kind of rebel. Every time he got hit, and every time someone told him he couldn't do something, Arnold kept repeating to himself, “This won't happen again, because I'm going to get out of here. I want to be rich. I want to be somebody."


Shortly after the above-mentioned victory at Mr. Universe moved to the USA in 1967, where he trained regularly at the famous Gold's Gym in Venice under the supervision of bodybuilding legend Joe Weider. It is there, that his great success began.


Arnold exercising with his friends. At the top of the photo is Schwarzenegger's close friend, the now-deceased bodybuilder Franco Columbu Source: IG/schwarzenegger


Sylvester Stallone – longtime rival and good friend

As Arnold himself says, he traveled to America with only his training backpack. 10 years later, as an extremely successful and recognized bodybuilder, he starred in the cult documentary Pumping Iron (1977).

However, even before that, in 1970, he managed to "star" on his debut in a deeply below-average film - Hercules in New York. His accent was so bad at the time that it had to be completely overdubbed later.

Pumping Iron, on the other hand, was a great success. In addition to him, other famous bodybuilders appeared in the documentary, as well as his great competitor Lou Ferrigno: "I wanted to be part of the film at all costs, because I knew that no matter what happens, I will be part of history - and that's because of me and Schwarzenegger . Arnold was a five-time Mr. Olympia and being on stage with him meant being with the best. It was a lot of fun, which also made bodybuilding famous."


Few people know that during this period, Arnold appeared as one of several bodybuilders in the gay magazine After Dark. Some of the images for the magazine can be described as quite controversial even today, because in them Arnold can be seen essentially naked.


During the filming of the documentary Pumping Iron, Arnold also met the rising star Sylvester Stallone - his former rival, but now a great friend. Their eyes met for the first time at the Golden Globe Awards in 1977.

At the time, Stallone thought of Arnold as a strange-looking huge man with a funny accent. He also had fun with his last name. Later in the evening, Schwarzenegger was honored as Male Discovery of the Year, to which Stallone responded by saying, "Come on, what a joke, nobody can be called that!"


On the same night, Stallone's boxing classic Rocky also got its moment of fame, winning the Golden Globe for Best Picture. Sly then threw a large bouquet into the air, which landed directly on Arnold's shoulders, thus conceptually starting their long-standing rivalry, during which they liked to tease each other.


In 1992, Arnold was offered a role in the action comedy Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Schwarzenegger felt that the film would be a flop, but Stallone was told the exact opposite. That's why his rival signed up for the film to blow it off Arnold, but later found out that Schwarzenegger deliberately manipulated him to do so, Stallone told Variety.



He almost did not become the Terminator

A few years after the success of Pumping Iron, the bodybuilder's career moved closer to Hollywood. Documentary producers Edward R. Pressman and Edward Summer decided to give Arnold a shot in their upcoming adaptation of Robert Howard's Conan the Barbarian.

Two years after that, Schwarzenegger played another breakthrough role, that of the Terminator himself, whom he incidentally stole from the beloved and hated athlete O.J. Simpson, who was tried for the murder of his own wife.

However, the path to a famous role could easily have been thwarted. Schwarzenegger's agent advised the actor not to play negative characters, and director James Cameron's agent considered the whole project a big fiasco, which is why Cameron finally fired him, reports E! Online.


When Cameron asked Arnold about his acting experience during their meeting, the famous bodybuilder confidently replied, according to Men's Journal: “It doesn't matter. I intend to be a movie star like Clint Eastwood and Sylvester Stallone”.


Originally, Schwarzenegger was supposed to appear in the film as the main character Kyle Reese. However, Schwarzenegger personally asked Cameron to play the character of the terminator after reading the script. The director once considered Rees the main star of the film and the Terminator just a machine that barely says a few dozen words in the film. Today we know that it was exactly the opposite.


During the filming of the Terminator series, he became a close friend of actress Linda Hamilton, who played Sarah Connor Source: IG/schwarzenegger

Bad advice from Luke Skywalker

From today's point of view, we take these roles for granted, but for Arnold in those years it was a great redemption and satisfaction. His beginnings as an actor were not easy at all. Agents and casting people often told him that his body was "too weird" and his accent was comical. There were even critics of Schwarzenegger's last name, who called it unnecessarily long and advised Arnold to rename himself.


But Arnold thought that if you have trouble pronouncing someone's last name, the better you'll remember it, reports The Buffalo News. Interestingly, one of the people who gave him similar advice was Mark Hamill, the representative of Luke Skywalker from Star Wars. "I told him to lose his accent for a wider range of roles & to change his last name since no one could pronounce it. He did the opposite & became one of the biggest stars EVER”




Although he did not change his last name, he tried to work on his accent for a long time. He still remembers how he kept repeating the sentence "a fine wine grows on the vine" during one linguistics class, reports Time.


From his arrival in America until 1983, when Arnold received his American citizenship, he experienced an exciting, but at the same time very demanding and stressful period, during which, among other things, he managed to obtain a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

It was around this time that he first confided in a friend who taught Transcendental Meditation about his anxiety problems. As he himself claims, he still draws many positives from this meditation teaching, he writes Business Insider


In addition to The Terminator and Barbara Conan, the 80s brought to the audience other unforgettable Arnold hits, such as Commando and Predator. During the filming of Commando, Schwarzenegger took the role of young Alyssa Milano's father somewhat literally. The actress was only 13 years old at the time, so he even sometimes helped her with homework for school, Milano revealed. The filming of the film took only 45 days in total. Although it is not a world record, we can still talk about a really fast and problem-free process.


On the contrary, the filming of Predator was not easy at all. Not only did the screenwriters constantly struggle with their work, but perhaps most importantly, there were problems with the film's main villain. The original representative of the feared hunter was, by the way, the future Belgian star Jean - Claude Van Damme.


He had to leave the project willy-nilly. They mainly talked about his problematic behavior and dissatisfaction with working in the costume (see the video below). "I hate it. I look like some kind of comic book hero in it," he said angrily, according to Den of Geek. Sooner or later, the filmmakers and the actor ran out of patience, and so the audience got the final form of the monster we know today. No nimble moving beast, but a massive intelligent killer.


Shyness while filming an intimate scene

The 90s in Arnold's career started with the sci-fi classic Total Recall. On the other hand, there is one funny incident connected with its filming. To this day, even his co-star Sharon Stone fondly remembers it. She played the main character's wife in the film.

In the bed scene, when Stone was wearing only a nightgown and Arnold was supposed to be completely naked under the covers (but in reality he was dressed in a miniature version of underwear), he seemed extremely shy, according to her. The actress described Arnold as very vulnerable in the situation, reports the magazine Men's Health.


However, the following decade, compared to the previous one, was a slight failure in the filmography for the native Austrian. In addition to Total Recall, he played in the second part of the Terminator (considered by many fans to be the best) and in the great action comedy True Lies, but he also signed up for below-average projects, such as the comedy Junior or the critically rejected Batman and Robin.


Predator director John McTiernan has revealed that heavy criticism of his new films broke Arnold's heart. However, Arnold was never "only" a world-famous acting legend, but also an extremely successful athlete. Therefore, he did not intend to put an end to the gradually declining acting career with his spectacular cuts into the world.

After the below-average comedy Junior or the commercially successful but qualitatively average Kindergarten Cop, he tried to make a comeback to action films, but was unsuccessful. The End of Days or 6th Day simply did not succeed at all compared to his former action hits.


The governor's partnership crisis and the fight against the climate crisis

In 2003, he presented himself to the audience for the third time with the character of the Terminator. Financially, by the way, Arnie improved himself by an incredible 30 million dollars, The Guardian reported. After playing his last film until then, he only symbolically waved to the audience and said goodbye to his admirers for good.


In the summer of 2003, on Jay Leno's show, he announced to America that he planned to run for governor of the state of California. A few months later, he won. That's why Schwarzenegger had to stop working as an actor for a while. He was inspired to enter politics by the president he voted for first - Ronald Reagan.

In the political sphere, among other things, he distinguished himself as a great fighter against the climate crisis, while he himself tries to set an example. He is a fan of electric cars and owns a modified Hummer that leaves no carbon footprint behind. He regularly speaks at the Vienna climate conference Austrian World Summit, which is also co-organized by his organization Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative. He also publicly supported the well-known activist Greta Thunberg, whom he met in the US and rode a bicycle with.


Thanks to Arnold's help, Greta was able to travel to climate conferences in the USA in his Tesla Model 3 electric car. However, ex-president of the USA Donald Trump, who often connected with Greta, has a different view of the climate crisis. Despite the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger, like Trump, is a Republican, he openly criticized the president at the time.

In addition to his irresponsible approach to climate change, Schwarzengger opposed him in the fight against the pandemic. From the beginning, he supported the introduction of the obligation to wear protective masks and was also behind vaccines. "Wearing a mask protects the people around you. It is not a matter of politics. It's not a weakness. It's the right thing to do,” he said on Instagram in one of his videos.


However, to the great delight of millions of fans, he didn't stop at politics, and in 2010 he appeared with a small role in his friend Stallone's Expendables. Since returning to his acting career in 2011, Schwarzenegger has appeared, among other things, in, for example, the lukewarmly received part of Terminator with the subtitle Genisys, in the horror drama Maggie or in the unfortunately sharply below-average action comedy Killing Gunther. In recent years, he's also starred in the co-produced Sino-Russian fantasy The Mystery of the Dragon Seal and the fairly decent latest Terminator, subtitled Dark Fate.

As for his acting career in the future, in the next few years he should star in a new part about Conan or in the expected sequel to the commercially successful comedy Twins. In addition to Danny DeVito, we will also see the famous comedian Eddie Murphy. He plays their third lost sibling in a film about a pair of markedly different brothers, which makes the whole comical situation even crazier.


Danny DeVito, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the late director Ivan Reitman Source: IG/schwarzenegger





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Thumbnail: Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives
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