The Los Angeles Times, in a recent investigation of his finances, estimated that his fortune far exceeded $200 million. This included real estate investments and a significant ownership in Dimensional Fund Advisors, a mutual fund company in Santa Monica that manages about $40 billion.
Mr. Schwarzenegger has climbed a social as well as political ladder. He used his early fame to get acquainted with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. When ''Pumping Iron,'' was released, Mr. Schwarzenegger told the film's publicity agent, Bobby Zarem, that the one person he wanted to meet was Mrs. Onassis. Mr. Zarem spoke to a friend who worked for Mrs. Onassis. A luncheon meeting was arranged at Elaine's in New York to introduce the relatively unknown Mr. Schwarzenegger to Mrs. Onassis, Andy Warhol and others. A photograph of Mr. Schwarzenegger talking to Mrs. Onassis was widely distributed, and his celebrity grew.
''He took seriously his ability to charm and coax people and do exactly what he wanted,'' Mr. Zarem said. ''He knew 25 years ago where he was going.''
Mr. Butler, who still keeps in touch with Mr. Schwarzenegger, put it another way. ''Arnold is one of the most political people I've ever met,'' Mr. Butler said. ''Everything he does is political. He has an uncanny ability to go to a meeting, get into an elevator, sit down with people in a restaurant, and immediately assess their strengths and weakness. He manipulates.''
Stress and Fantasy Growing Up
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger was born on July 30, 1947, in Thal, Austria, near Graz, and grew up there. His mother was a homemaker.
Wendy Leigh, author of an unauthorized biography of the actor, wrote this year in an Australian newspaper that the elder Mr. Schwarzenegger had a ''brutal temper'' and ''gloried in pitting his two sons against each other.'' Arnold usually came out the loser in these boxing and running matches. Mr. Schwarzenegger has said that he was raised ''under great discipline.''
As a boy, Mr. Schwarzenegger found escape in the movie house and became a fan of Reg Park, a body builder who starred in B Hercules movies. Mr. Schwarzenegger would model his life after Mr. Park's. In his 1977 biography, ''Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder,'' Mr. Schwarzenegger said that Mr. Park became his fantasy ''father figure.''
Mr. Schwarzenegger said his parents ridiculed him and called his dreams of building his body and becoming a movie star a lazy and nonsensical pursuit. ''It was a very uptight feeling at home,'' Mr. Schwarzenegger said in ''Pumping Iron.'' ''I always felt I belonged in America.''
Mr. Schwarzenegger's luck turned when he met Joe Weider, who had built a worldwide fitness empire and was the power behind the International Federation of Body Building, which sponsored contests like Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia. Impressed with Mr. Schwarzenegger's charm and humor, convinced that Mr. Schwarzenegger was the kind of figure who could turn bodybuilding into a mainstream sport, Mr. Weider brought him to America in 1968.
''I knew, and he knew, that he could be great,'' Mr. Weider said. ''We created Arnold. He was special because he was tall, he had willpower, charm and above all he wanted to win.''
At 20, Mr. Schwarzenegger became the youngest man to win the Mr. Universe title, the sport's top amateur prize. (He went on to win four more Mr. Universe crowns.) But initially he could not beat Sergio Oliva, for the professional title, Mr. Olympia. He finally dethroned Mr. Oliva in 1969 at a body building competition held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Mr. Schwarzenegger's movie debut in 1970 was inauspicious. It was the now-forgotten ''Hercules in New York'' or sometimes called ''Hercules Goes Bananas.'' For the movie, he was renamed Arnold Strong, and played opposite the diminutive actor, Arnold Stang.
Early Appeal of Republicans
Television stirred Mr. Schwarzenegger's interest in politics, and in particular, Republicans. Mr. Columbu said that he and Mr. Schwarzenegger began watching television news in the late 1960's and decided that Republicans were far more appealing than Democrats.
The Democrats, Mr. Columbu said, reminded them of the dreary socialism they had left behind in Europe. The Republicans, he said they felt, were about hard work, self-sufficiency and a muscular foreign policy.
''We were mad at Europe,'' said Mr. Columbu, who was born in Sardinia. ''We were coming here because we thought America was better than Europe. We liked Nixon because he told Europe it had to pull its weight. Basically, Europe was old and you couldn't get anywhere there. America was the place.''
In the early 1980's Mr. Columbu, now a chiropractor, invited one of his patients, Dana Rohrabacher, a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, to have dinner with the action hero.