Last Updated on March 25, 2020

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Most Iconic Moments

The world loves Arnold Schwarzenegger (as do we). On Friday, following reports of the fitness icon’s emergency heart surgery, the Internet was flooded with tributes and well wishes for the Hollywood star, champion bodybuilder, and politician affectionately known as the Governator.

According to reports, 70-year-old Schwarzenegger is recovering from the procedure, which he underwent after going to Cedars-Sinai on Thursday for a catheter valve replacement. He’s had heart surgeries before, most recently in 1997, to replace an aortic valve. In past interviews, Arnold has said that family has a history of heart problems.

To kick off his speedy recovery, we’re recapping some of Arnold’s most iconic moments—from his days at Muscle Beach to his Hollywood hits and all the bodybuilding titles in between.

Mr. Universe, 1967

Schwarzenegger began weightlifting at age 15. Two years after being named Junior Mr. Europe in 1965, Arnold brought home the title of Mr. Universe, which at the time was the most prestigious international bodybuilding event in the world. He was just 20 years old.

Also in 1967, Schwarzenegger won the Munich stone-lifting contest, in which he lifted a stone weighing 560 pounds between his legs while standing on two footrests. He returned to London in 1968 to win the Mr. Universe title a second time.

Arnold went on to win Mr. Universe five times. “The most perfectly developed man in the history of the world,” as the Guinness Book of World Records called him, would soon come to America and, take the bodybuilding world by storm.

Mr. Olympia, 1970-1975 

Arnold arrived in America in 1968, determined to become the best bodybuilder in the world. A key part of that vision was winning the Mr. Olympia title. After losing to reigning champion Sergio Olivia in 1969, Schwarzenegger won the title in 1970. At just 23 years old, he was the youngest ever Mr. Olympia—a record he still holds today.

Arnold would go on to win the Mr. Olympia title seven times, including during the 1971-1975 competitions and again in 1980. In case you’re curious, here are a few of Arnold’s personal records:

  • Clean and press– 264 pounds
  • Snatch – 243 pounds
  • Clean and jerk – 298 pounds
  • Squat – 545 pounds
  • Bench press – 520 pounds
  • Deadlift – 710 pounds

Pumping Iron, 1977

By this time, Schwarzenegger was both a bodybuilding icon and a fixture at Los Angeles’ famed Muscle Beach, the epicenter for the “Golden Era of Bodybuilding.” But it wasn’t until the documentary Pumping Iron that the world outside of bodybuilding got to know Arnold. The film was shot in the 100 days leading up to the 1975 Mr. Olympia competition, and premiered at the 30th Cannes Film Festival in 1977.

Conan the Barbarian, 1982

Pumping Iron put Schwarzenegger on the world’s radar, but Conan the Barbarian made him a household name. The blockbuster brought in more than $39.1 million at the box office and was, as Arnold put it, “God’s gift to my career.”

Said Arnold of the film’s director, “Someone else, for example, might have picked Charles Bronson and then just rewritten the script, picking up Conan from the time he was 40. I think that picking us took an enormous amount of courage on John’s part.”

Schwarzenegger trained heavily, shedding 30 pounds off his 240-pound frame to prepare for the movie. The training got him in such good shape that he returned from retirement to compete in Mr. Olympia 1980—winning the title after just seven weeks of preparation.

The Terminator, 1984

Hot on the heels of Conan the Barbarian came Arnold’s most iconic blockbusters: The Terminator series. The franchise has already delivered five consecutive box-office smashes (Terminator 2: Judgment Day grossed nearly $205M upon release in 1991) and endless catchphrases. And now, the Terminator will indeed be back for a sixth installment, which will undoubtedly shed light on the role of artificial intelligence in the modern world.

Arnold’s films have grossed a staggering $1.9 billion in North America to date. His other films credits include True Lies, Total Recall, Batman & Robin, and Twins.

The Governator, 2003

After decades in the spotlight as a bodybuilder and actor, Schwarzenegger reinvented himself yet again—this time as a politician. He was sworn in as the 38th governor of California in November 2003, after winning a historic recall election, and served two consecutive terms. He has since made climate change a core mission.

More than three decades since retiring from competitive bodybuilding, Arnold is still a familiar presence at international competitions. His namesake competition, The Arnold Classic Worldwide, is an annual multi-sport festival featuring bodybuilding, strongman, fitness and bikini competitions. He also supports the Special Olympics and numerous other athletic events—and is still getting pumped.

Cory is a veteran health industry writer and content creator. His work has been featured in major publications such as MyFitnessPal, Healthy Living, and Low Carb Fanatics. His health industry writing career spans over nearly two decades.

In his free time, Cory enjoys snowboarding, fictional writing, and online chess.