He’s done drugs, participated in orgies and doesn’t hold a grudge against a Nazi war criminal. No wonder he’s doing well in the polls
Worldwide mega-celebrity Arnold Schwarzenegger has said and done many things during the course of living a very public life that don’t exactly square up with traditional American ideals of noble authority and benevolent leadership.
Given the short window of time between now and Election Day Oct. 7—and the fact that the Schwarzenegger campaign seems unlikely to reveal many details about the candidate’s strategy or true background—we thought his decades in the public eye might provide us information enough to determine some of his qualifications for public office. We wanted to discover what he’s truly like as a man and to comprehend, ultimately, whether he has the constitution of one fit to stand as leader of the world’s fifth-largest economy.
Given the opportunity, his campaign spokesman, Rob Stutzman, declined to comment on what follows.
It is not our intention simply to knock Schwarzenegger who, after all, is easy to admire as a force of nature and self-made man. What we set out to do instead was compile, from many sources, some of the most interesting material we could find about this complex individual. We offer the following pieces in the hope that they help readers put together the puzzle that is Arnold before the election.
1 Pig valves keep Arnold’s heart pumping
In 1997, Schwarzenegger elected to have open-heart surgery to replace an aortic valve. A 2001 article in Premiere magazine quoted George Butler, director of Pumping Iron (the 1977 documentary that first introduced the world to Schwarzenegger), as saying, “During the operation, doctors removed his heart from his body and replaced one of the heart valves with a pig valve. During his recovery, he was rushed back to the operating room, where the doctors again removed his heart and implanted two more pig valves.”
Unfortunately, the valves have one disadvantage: They wear out after an average of 12 years. Schwarzenegger’s surgeon denies pig valves were used, and the Schwarzenegger team denies that Arnold’s heart problems were a result of steroid use (see No. 2) during his bodybuilding career.
2 Speaking of pumping, Arnold has done some pumping of an anabolic nature
The sweat-shirted comedy character on Saturday Night Live gave our culture the phrase, “I vant to pump … you up!” We laughed at the Arnold-like accent and bulging fake muscles. But, perhaps more seriously, there was something artificial pumping Schwarzenegger up: anabolic steroids. The artificial male hormones were prevalent among muscle heads, and while the drug had the effect of pumping muscles to skin-stretching proportions, it sometimes had disastrous health and behavioral consequences, also.
Schwarzenegger admitted using steroids in a pamphlet he authored in 1977 titled Arnold: Developing a Mr. Universe Physique. He wrote: “Anabolic steroids were helpful to me in maintaining muscle size while on a strict diet in preparation for a contest.” He also told U.S. News & World Report in 1992 that he didn’t have to go to the black market back in the 1960s and 1970s; he could simply ask his doctor because it was legal. “The dosage that was taken then versus what is taken now is not even 10 percent. It’s probably 5 percent,” he said.
3 Arnold’s voting record lacks vigor
Schwarzenegger did not vote in five of the past 11 statewide elections. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, Schwarzenegger requested absentee ballots on four of these five occasions, but, according to elections officials in his hometown of Brentwood, the ballots were not recorded as having been received. Among other things, the big guy missed the opportunity to vote for President George H. Bush on two occasions—oops!—and skipped out on the chance to vote on whether to legalize medical marijuana (see No. 11). He did, however, vote in the 2002 primary and general election, which included his own ballot initiative to promote after-school programs.
4 Arnold has donated his time (and big bucks) to charities
Schwarzenegger played an influential role in the Special Olympics, a well-thought-of athletic competition for the mentally retarded that was founded by his mother-in-law, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. He launched the Inner-City Games for disadvantaged kids in Los Angeles in the early 1990s and later helped roll the games out in dozens of American cities. He was chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and has, on his own dime, toured 50 states on its behalf. He and his wife, Maria Shriver, donated a million dollars to the 9/11 fund. Recently, he financed much of a campaign for a state ballot initiative promoting after-school programs. Schwarzenegger also has given millions of dollars to Jewish causes and numerous other charities.
5 Arnold’s dad was a Nazi
Let us state the obvious: The son cannot be held responsible for the sins of the father. But it is nonetheless of interest that Gustav Schwarzenegger, the actor’s father, was a member of the Nazi Party—a member of the SA (Sturmabteilung, or storm troopers), the brown-shirted Nazi paramilitary wing made up, according to the actor’s unauthorized biographer, Wendy Leigh, of “the most enthusiastic of Hitler’s followers.”
Gustav joined up in May of 1939—about six months after the storm troopers launched Kristallnacht, the Night of the Broken Glass, when Jewish homes and businesses were attacked across Germany and Austria and when thousands of Jews were taken to concentration camps. Gustav, who had no official record of having been a war criminal, served in Germany’s military police. He was, by many accounts, a strict disciplinarian. Gustav died a drunk in 1973, and his son did not attend the funeral.
Arnold subsequently contacted the Simon Wiesenthal Center, reportedly for information regarding his father’s war record, and eventually became a major donor to the center.
6 At his wedding, Arnold professed love for Nazi war criminal Kurt Waldheim
While running for president of Austria in March of 1986, Kurt Waldheim, former secretary general of the United Nations, was revealed to have participated in Nazi atrocities during World War II. A month after this discovery, Schwarzenegger, a native Austrian, married Maria Shriver in a high-society wedding at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Mass. It was attended by a who’s who list of celebrities, including Andy Warhol, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Brokaw, Quincy Jones, Grace Jones, Diane Sawyer and, of course, all the Kennedys.
Invited before news of his past was made public, Waldheim sent the couple a gift in lieu of attending. It was a life-sized rendering of Schwarzenegger in lederhosen holding his bride, wearing a dirndl. At his wedding, the groom subsequently made a toast he probably now regrets. As reported in Leigh’s 1990 Arnold: An Unauthorized Biography, his words were: “My friends don’t want me to mention Kurt’s name because of all the recent Nazi stuff … but I love him, and Maria does, too, and so thank you, Kurt.”
Waldheim won the election despite the revelations about his past; Schwarzenegger was photographed subsequently visiting him in Austria.
7 Arnold brought the Hummer to us
It isn’t every day you can blame a pop-culture trend on a politician, but Arnold’s association with the Hummer sport-utility vehicle runs deeper than mere endorsement. In 1992, Schwarzenegger approached AM General Corp.-which manufactured the Humvee under contract to the U.S. military, and asked if he could buy one of the behemoths for his own use.
Later that year, AM General began selling the boxy vehicle to any non-action hero willing to pony up $100,000. Schwarzenegger owns five of the newer Hummer H1s along with two of the smaller Hummer H2s (only $50,000), one of which his wife, Maria, drives. “She didn’t like the big one,” the candidate told an Associated Press reporter last year. “She said it was too wide, and she felt ridiculous in it.”
8 Arnold files lawsuits to protect his image
Republicans and Democrats alike often say our society has become too litigious. Apparently, Schwarzenegger doesn’t agree, especially where his image is concerned. When a London tabloid ran the breathlessly titled, “Arnie Gay Snaps Shocker,” his legal team went to work. The article detailed how nude photos of Arnold that were taken in 1973 ended up in a gay magazine in the United States in 1992 without Schwarzenegger’s permission. Arnold’s lawyers argued that the lurid story implied that he was unfit for public office. Eventually, the paper settled, forking over an undisclosed amount of money, an apology and assurances that Arnold was in no way involved in anything scandalous.
When British journalist and author Leigh wrote in Arnold about his familial connections to the Nazi party, Schwarzenegger sued. Leigh eventually was forced to pay and issue a mea culpa stating: “Mr. Schwarzenegger has never espoused Nazi or anti-Semite views, has never been an admirer of Hitler’s evil regime, and he did not admire or approve of his father’s alleged conduct.”
Later, Esquire magazine printed a doctored photo of Arnold giving the Sieg Heil salute, next to a story entitled “Saturday Night Fuhrer,” about Arnold’s ill-fated film in which he would portray an anti-Nazi German colonel in Hitler’s army. The photo was a parody, but it was not at all funny to Arnold, so he sued. Neither the film nor the lawsuit went anywhere.
When another tabloid reported that Arnold was a “ticking time bomb” following his heart surgery, he sued for $50 million. And just this year, when International Game Technology of Reno tried to use Schwarzenegger’s voice and image in its Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines-themed slot machine, the actor sued and won.
9 Arnold has played around with violence
The actor is responsible, during his acting career, for some 275 on-screen killings.
10 On Oprah, Arnold defended his decision to pose in the nude
If you’ve been on the Internet lately, chances are you’ve seen a photo of the candidate that reveals a libidinous nature. There’s the one with a topless woman seated astride his mighty shoulders. But the photograph that’s been doing digital warp speed these days is the photo of him in the full monty, totally frontally nude, posing during the 1970s in a classic bodybuilding, muscle-pumped position.
Asked about the photo on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Schwarzenegger said: “Why should I be upset about a nude photo I posed for an artist, a sculptor?” Indeed, according to Financial Times magazine, the famous photographer who took the shot is Francesco Scavullo.
11 Arnold went through a pumping-and-toking phase
Unlike Bill Clinton, Schwarzenegger admits that he inhaled—probably because it could be a plus in California for aging hippie voters to hear someone finally be forthright about smoking pot. But the real reason is that he can’t deny it; it’s on film, in Pumping Iron. But that was then, and this is now, a period of image polishing.
Yet, last year he boldly told an Associated Press reporter: “The bottom line is that’s what it was in the ‘70s. That’s what I did.” Yet, now, he is an after-school-child-care advocate telling children to stay away from drugs. Whazzup, dude? So, it was cool then, but it’s bad now.
Arnold says he has never touched marijuana since that time. “As you grow up and as you become more mature, those things change.” And one becomes a Republican.
12 Maria wasn’t allowed to wear pants in Arnold’s company
Speaking to Playboy in 1988, Arnold made the following statement: “I hate pants. This is something I have inherited from my father. He despised pants, and my mother was never allowed to wear them at home. We’re talking about a different time period now, when the man was much more the ruler of the house. But I still feel that way, and neither my mother nor Maria is allowed to go out with me in pants.”
Interestingly enough, Playboy republished a number of quotes from this article on its Web site to reintroduce the candidate to Playboy readers, and even though the magazine included Schwarzenegger statements on “women’s rights,” the pants quote was not included. The women of California anxiously await the candidate’s platform position on this issue.
13 Arnold can’t shake his reputation as a flirter and a groper
Despite nonviolent, female-friendly films he made in the 1980s and ‘90s (Twins, Kindergarten Cop and Junior), Schwarzenegger can’t seem to shake the rumor that he is a chronic womanizer. The now-infamous article “Arnold the Barbarian,” featured in the March 2001 issue of Premiere magazine, depicts Schwarzenegger as repeatedly acting boorish—and worse—around women. The story, based almost entirely on unnamed sources, quoted film producers, former employees and a journalist describing the Austrian superstar as a serial groper.
While promoting his movie The 6th Day in London, author John Connolly wrote, in less than 24 hours the star was reported to have “attempted to, as high school boys used to say, cop a little feel from three different female talk-show hosts.” Schwarzenegger’s attorney denied the charges, and the star himself said Connolly’s article was “trash.” Also, the article was roundly criticized by Schwarzenegger’s colleagues as a character assassination. But Schwarzenegger’s litigious team did not find grounds for a lawsuit, and the rumors—many of them reinforced by statements in the press from his friends—simply won’t go away.
Back in 1977, Arnold told Oui magazine that he participated in an orgy with other bodybuilders and a woman in a Gold’s Gym in Venice, where they “took her upstairs, where we all got together,” and “everyone jumped on.” Schwarzenegger said last week that he doesn’t remember saying any such thing.
At the least, Arnold seems clueless as to how to talk about women in the public domain. Recently, he was quoted in Esquire magazine as saying this: “When you see a blonde with great tits and a great ass, you say to yourself, hey, she must be stupid or must have nothing else to offer, which maybe is the case many times. But then again, there is the one that is as smart as her breasts look, great as her face looks, beautiful as her whole body looks gorgeous, you know, so people are shocked.” Yes, Arnold, they are shocked.
14 Arnold can be admired for his blunt, straight-talking style
The Los Angeles Times quoted Schwarzenegger last year as he heaped praise on President George W. Bush and then added, “It would have been better if he had really won, instead of through the courts.”
15 Arnold feels strongly about his toenails
From 1967 to 1975, Schwarzenegger dominated the world of major muscledom, repeatedly winning Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia titles. He accomplished this by taking meticulous care of every aspect of his physical body, melding every corpuscle to his will. It should come as no surprise, perhaps, that he cared—and likely still cares—about matters that may seem quite trifling.
For example, Arnold has a reported passion for a good pedicure. According to Newsweek columnist Martha Brant, who shares a Beverly Hills pedicurist with the candidate, Schwarzenegger gets angry when he doesn’t have his toenails looked after. Last month, she wrote, “Our mutual pedicurist told me about how he’d gotten mad at her once when he was in the hospital and she didn’t make it to his bedside” to give him complete, regular toe duty. According to this source, Arnold came to her shop afterward and “pounded on the glass,” wanting to know where she’d been.
16 The political outsiders on Arnold’s campaign look strangely like insiders
Schwarzenegger has marketed himself as an outsider ready to wrest the state Capitol away from special interests and political hacks. And yet his campaign is being run by consummate insiders. Indeed, four of the candidate’s campaign consultants were involved in a scheme wherein former insurance commissioner Chuck Quackenbush let certain insurance companies funnel money into foundations that promoted Quackenbush’s political career rather than paying fines for mishandling claims from the Northridge earthquakes. The commissioner resigned rather than face impeachment. In the process, his name became synonymous with “special interests.”
Also on board Schwarzenegger’s campaign juggernaut are Bob White, who heads up California Strategies, one of the state’s major campaign-consulting firms, and former oil-industry lobbyist Patricia Clarey. White and Clarey both were aides to former Gov. Pete Wilson. Readers may recall that it was Wilson who pushed through legislation deregulating the state’s power industry.
17 Arnold has no problem silencing billionaire advisers
Early in the campaign, Arnold’s economic adviser, Warren Buffett, gave a harsh, off-the-cuff assessment of California’s Proposition 13 tax revolt by voters in 1978, which lowered California property taxes to rates far below those in most of the rest of the country. But Buffett’s comments elicited howls of rage from the conservative wing of the Republican Party, and Arnold quickly reined in his lieutenant: “I’ve told Warren I’ll make him do 500 sit-ups if he mentions this topic again.” The candidate then proclaimed his undying loyalty for the anti-tax measure.
For a few days, Proposition 13 was in the papers again, and it looked as if the recall election might just give voters something substantial to debate beyond whether to “throw the bum out.” But the issue disappeared just as quickly, and the major media soon settled back into covering the election as a horse race.
Buffett also has settled into the background.
18 Arnold has a reputation as a shrewd businessman
Nobody doubts that Schwarzenegger knows how to make and multiply money. He put his University of Wisconsin bachelor’s degree in business economics to profitable use. His $200 million net worth was chiefly fueled by his acting career, but Schwarzenegger also has made a fortune in real estate (he owns property all over Southern California, especially in Santa Monica) and various other successful investments. Associates are often quoted describing him as a savvy and knowledgeable businessman.
19 Despite being America’s most famous immigrant, Arnold opposed Proposition 187
Nobody would doubt Schwarzenegger’s emotional allegiance to immigrants. Recently, he told reporters, “I love immigrants. You know, I’m an immigrant myself!” However, the same reporters are still awaiting an answer to the follow-up question: Then why, in 1994, did you vote for Proposition 187, a ballot measure that cut health care and public education for thousands of immigrant children and families? The initiative later was declared unconstitutional, but Schwarzenegger has yet to clarify the apparent contradiction between his view and his vote.
20 Despite his accent, Arnold believes in speaking plain English
Schwarzenegger sits on the advisory board of U.S. English Inc., an organization that promotes teaching English to immigrants. Unfortunately, scandal and investigations into possible racist connections have plagued the organization. The group’s founder made racist statements that were revealed in a leaked memo, and a spokesperson had ties to a white-supremacist magazine, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report. There’s no evidence that Arnold knew of these connections, and he hasn’t spoken of it despite press reports. Egad, even Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek is on the board: What is a synonym for anti-immigration?
21 Arnold attended a meeting with Ken Lay during the worst days of California’s energy crisis … but says he can’t remember it
Schwarzenegger has said he’s a bit fuzzy about whether he attended a meeting, held at a Beverly Hills hotel two years ago during California’s energy crisis, with former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay, ex-junk-bond king Michael Milken and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. “I don’t remember the meeting,” he told the Los Angeles Times. Somehow, it’s hard to swallow the idea that Arnold can’t remember a meeting he is known to have attended, with these particular individuals, held just as a dramatic wave of blackouts hit an energy-starved California.
During the meeting, the infamous Lay—representing the huge Houston-based energy company that later went bankrupt—pushed a plan to halt federal investigations into energy-price gouging and to have ratepayers pay many billions in debt that was owed by the utilities. Lest we forget, Enron was lead among the corporations accused of ripping off many billions from Californians during the energy crisis.
22 Arnold got in trouble with gays for taunting Democrats as “a bunch of girlie men”
While stumping on behalf of former President George Bush during his re-election campaign in 1992 at Pinkerton Academy in New Hampshire, Schwarzenegger said this about Democrats: “We don’t talk about those Democrats. I watched that debate, and they all looked like a bunch of girlie men.” The GOP audience squealed with delight, but you might think a statement like that would cause a testosterone-fueled rebuttal by the Democratic candidates in question—former Gov. Bill Clinton, former Sen. Paul Tsongas, former Sen. Bob Kerrey, former Sen. Tom Harkin and former Gov. Jerry Brown. Strangely, though, Schwarzenegger’s statement set off a firestorm of controversy and condemnation in the gay community instead. The folks at Queer Nation denounced Schwarzenegger as a homophobe thus: “Once again, Bush’s henchmen divide the nation by promoting hatred of a minority—the queer community.”
23 Arnold’s ambition seems limitless
Schwarzenegger came out of nowhere to become the most successful bodybuilder in the history of the sport, winning 13 world bodybuilding contests. Next, he was making films. In 1982, Conan the Barbarian catapulted Schwarzenegger into the ranks of genuine stardom, and, in 1984, Terminator confirmed his standing as a certified action-hero celebrity.
Soon, the actor-and his campaign contributions-led him to be introduced to various powerful Republicans, including then-President Ronald Reagan, then-Vice President George Bush, and California’s governor at the time, Pete Wilson. Indeed, in 1977, Arnold was quoted in Stern magazine as saying: “When one has money, one day, it becomes less interesting. And when one is also the best in film, what can be more interesting? Perhaps power. Then, one moves into politics and becomes governor or president or something.”
In 1986, Schwarzenegger’s marriage to a Kennedy hoisted him to a credibility-by-association status with that ultra-powerful Democratic dynasty. Perhaps all this successful status-climbing portends a future in presidential politic. As he said long ago in Pumping Iron: “I was always dreaming of very powerful people, dictators and things like that. I was just always impressed by people who could be remembered for hundreds of years.”
24 Orrin Hatch wants to change the Constitution so Arnold can run for president
In July 2003, the Republican senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch, proposed an amendment to remove an inconvenient constitutional barrier that stands between Schwarzenegger and the White House. The proposal would make anyone who’s been a U.S. citizen for 20 years (and resided here for 14) eligible to run for president of the United States. Hatch’s spokesperson told San Francisco Examiner that there’s absolutely no connection between the proposal and Arnie, who just happens to have been naturalized in 1983 and has helped raise funds for Hatch.
25 Arnold’s political ascension was foretold by Sly
Way back in 1993, the Sylvester Stallone action film Demolition Man offered up a sly warning about possible scenarios for his fellow action hero’s political future. Stallone plays a cop, who wakes from a three-decade cryogenic nap to find the Los Angeles of 2032 to be an extremely disturbing place: Listening devices fine people for swearing, Taco Bell has monopolized the restaurant market (based, no doubt, on its current “Who says you can’t buy votes?” campaign), and acting has, sadly, not improved.
But Sly’s most disturbing revelation comes from love interest Sandra Bullock, when she mentions the Arnold Schwarzenegger Presidential Library. "Stop!" bellows Sly. "He was president?!" "Yes," says Bullock, "even though he was not born in this country, his popularity at the time caused the 61st Amendment."