First recognized as a commerical success for his role in 1982's "Conan the Barbarian," Schwarzenegger is perhaps best known for his blockbuster roles in the trilogy of "Terminator" films.
There were plenty of bumps along Schwarzenegger's road to victory. The actor shrugged off an egging at a college campus, sparred through a televised mud-slinging match with fellow recall contenders, battled multiple allegations of sexual harassment and denied rumors he once praised Hitler in an interview before winning the election.
Schwarzenegger first entered the public eye in the U.S. in the 1977 film "Pumping Iron," a feature-length documentary of the "Mr. Olympia" competitions that went behind the scenes of the body building profession. The film allowed Schwarzenegger to make the transition from bodybuilding to acting.
Born in Graz, Austria, Schwarzenegger began weight lifting at age 15. At age 20, he captured the title of "Mr. Universe" and later went on to lift thirteen championship titles, including Mr. Universe, Mr. Olympia and Mr. World.
Schwarzenegger came to the U.S. at age 21. He first earned a living working as a brick-layer, and for a while, pursued a career as a businessman. Schwarzenegger earned a business degree from a campus of the University of Wisconsin, and moved into the real estate market buying property in Santa Monica, Calif.
During that time, he continued to pursue acting work, and scored his first big commercial success with title role in "Conan." He went on to become a box office star with action-hero flicks like "The Terminator," "Predator," "Total Recall," and "True Lies."
Schwarzenegger has also revealed a comedic side in lighter feature films like "Twins," "Kindergarten Cop," and "Jingle All The Way."
Later in his film career, Schwarzenegger earned a reputation for his philanthropic pursuits. He was named the International Weight Training Coach of the Special Olympics in 1979, and serves as a Global Ambassador to the organization founded by his mother-in-law, Eunice Shriver. He was also appointed Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under the George H. W. Bush Administration from 1990 to 1993.
At a 1977 tennis tournament, Schwarzenegger met television journalist Maria Shriver. Shriver is the daughter of politician and diplomat Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President John F. Kennedy. Following a long and storied courtship, the couple married in 1986. They have four children.