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April - May 2000


When Arnold Schwarzenegger first came to America to train for the 1969 IFBB Mr. Universe competition, he had no money, no job and barely spoke English. Sure, the Austrian Oak was known in the bodybuilding world, but there was really no money in the bodybuilding industry at the time. He wasn't yet "Ah-nold", seven-time Mr. Olympia and world box-office champion. In 1968, he was just plain Arnold, simply another guy walking down the street, (okay, a guy with 22 inch biceps). More than anything, he needed a job.

The first thing Arnold managed to do was work out an agreement with Joe Weider. Arnold would provide information on how he trained and allow Weider to publish photographs of him in his bodybuilding magazines. In exchange, Arnold got a small salary, an apartment and a car, but even better was that the arrangement provided Arnold the freedom to train four to five hours a day.

Later that year, Arnold convinced Joe Weider to bring his friend, now Dr. Franco Columbu, to America and the two of them started a bricklaying business together. As the story goes Arnold and Franco would seduce potential customers by telling that their method of bricklaying was different because it was "Austrian Bricklaying", During 1971, Los Angeles was hit with one of the biggest earthquakes in it's history. Arnold remembers "All the chimneys fell down. Franco and I were busy for two years rebuilding chimneys and fireplaces and patios and walls." They made a good living, but both men had other goals -- to be bodybuilding champions, and they spent hour after hour training at Gold's Gym. Later, after the release of the phenomenally successful book PUMPING IRON, Arnold recalls that he and Franco would affectionately refer to the company as "Pumping Bricks".

In 1970, Arnold was given his first acting job. An overseas production company was looking for a muscleman to play the mythical hero Hercules and contacted Joe Weider. Weider immediately sold them on the young Schwarzenegger, convincing them that the Austrian Oak had been a Shakespearean Actor back in Germany. The production company bought it and before Arnold knew it, he was in a toga and following in the footsteps of his boyhood heroes Steve Reeves and Reg Park, who'd also brought the famous Greek hero to life on the silver screen. Although Arnold's debut in HERCULES GOES BANANAS (that's right, that was name before it was later changed to HERCULES IN NEW YORK) was well, less celebrated than its predecessors, and barely seen (Arnold's voice was even dubbed) he did make a much appreciated $12,000 and took his first step toward his inevitable cinema super-stardom. Arnold recalls the shoot as a great learning experience and many years later, on THE DAVID LETTERMAN SHOW, Arnold would recall the experience fondly, "You have to remember, I'd just gotten off the boat, you see, and someone asked me if I wanted to play Hercules in a movie. I thought it was dream."

It was also during his time with Joe Weider that Arnold began a small mail order business, selling training manuals and supplies. There were ten manuals in all, with names like BUILDING THE LEGS OF AN OAK, and BUILDING A CHEST LIKE A FORTRESS. At first, Arnold sold the books under the name Arnold Strong, his stage name HERCULES IN NEW YORK but as his fame grew, he was able to change the name to Schwarzenegger. The last manuals were sold in 1980 and have since been updated and most of their material included in Arnold's full-length books, THE (NEW) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN BODYBUILDING, ARNOLD'S BODYBUILDING FOR MEN and ARNOLD'S BODYBUILDING FOR WOMEN.

AND THAT WAS ALL BETWEEN WORKOUTS! Even back then, Arnold understood that the foundation of his dreams was going to be built on hard work, whether in the gym or out. Arnold simply didn't know how to do it any other way. In these early days, Arnold saved as much of the money as he could and slowly began invest in real estate. Arnold's business savvy proved him as successful an investor as he'd been a bodybuilder. Before the end of the decade, he was a millionaire.

In 1975, after winning the Mr. Olympia competition in South Africa, Arnold retired from bodybuilding and, once again, found himself out of work.

So what did Schwarzenegger do? Arnold decided to give acting another shot.

At last glance, he wasn't doing too bad.



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