BODYBUILDER / ACTOR / POLITICIAN
Facing up to real things, the majority of the readers, who take the book “Total recall. My unbelievable true life story” do it to find out more about Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the star of the first magnitude and one of the most recognizable actors in movie history. Fewer are interested in his sports career, thousands of tons of iron in gyms around the world, in his Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia titles, changing the core of the sport. And very few will focus on the third part of the book, to explore the path of the Terminator-Governor in the policies and features of the legislation of the state of California.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Total recall” autobiography has no other division than structuring into chapters, and the three most important periods in his life can be distinguished in the book very conditionally. The fact is that from the very first chapters, Arnold shares his dreams of youth, among which were then both the greatest achievements in bodybuilding and a career in cinema in the United States. Already in 1974, the focus of his attention was actively shifting from professional sports towards a career in cinema, which had very vague perspectives at that time. The same is true of a career in politics, the grains of which were sown two decades before being elected as the Governor of California. These three pivotal foundations of Schwarzenegger’s career run like a golden thread through the entire book, reflecting its essence. Thus, he has always been an athlete, actor, and politician, just at different stages of his life with a different focus towards each component.
THE GREATEST BODYBUILDER OF ALL TIMES
The subject of bodybuilding, training, and self-improvement is the theme song of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life and his autobiography. After introducing own childhood and youth in the town of Thal, the next ten chapters are mostly devoted to fulfilling the dream of becoming the most muscular man in the world. Arnold charges us with the enthusiasm of his first workouts, youthful dreams, which others laughed at. He describes those emotional states that the young man had created for himself so that he could move every day towards his goal. The torn skin on his hands, a five-hour workout every day, psychological battles with the opponents, viewing posters on the wall.
In this one-third of the “Total recall. My unbelievable true life story” autobiography, Arnold recollects a lot of things already being said earlier in “Education of a Bodybuilder” and well-known “The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding”. A confrontation with Frank Zane and Sergio Oliva receives special attention. At the same time, the author does not concentrate only on training and on his competitions. He progressively describes all the aspects of his life within the first twenty-seven years. Military service, first victories in competitions, a friendship with Franco Colombo, moving to Munich, first business success, moving to the USA and fateful cooperation with Joe Weider, evening studying at the university, death of father and brother, new areas of business, love affairs, first serious perspective in a movie career. If you are passionate about your own body and have grown up surrounded by the pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger, this part of the book involves unreservedly.
The most recognizable actor of the era
The book begins to shift the focus of its attention towards the cinema, starting with the chapter entitled “STAY HUNGRY” The upcoming film by Bob Rafelson served as an impetus, which advanced Arnold’s life beyond the competitive stage. The next eleven chapters, before joining the race for the governor’s chair, are devoted precisely to the period of Arnold’s active movie career from 1974 to 2003. Arnold Schwarzenegger plunges us into the production process of the movies in which he did participate. First, the period of the 1970-s, when he played roles on television and opened the world of bodybuilding to the public in “Stay Hungry” and “PUMPING IRON” and was just preparing for a big role.
The period of the 1980-s and the beginning of the 1990-s, when Arnold Schwarzenegger became one of the most highly paid, recognizable actors of our time, is fully revealed. A whole chapter is devoted to ”Conan the Barbarian”, after which Arnold Schwarzenegger woke up to be a celebrity. How difficult the filming turned out to be, how demanding director John Milius was, how unpleasant producer Dino De Laurentiis was, how painful injuries on the set were and what a sweet victory at the box office they all did manage. Among all the projects, ‘’Twins’’, ‘’Terminator 2: Judgment Day’’, “True Lies”, “The last action hero” also receive the most book attention. At the same time, the author talks about his success in business, his acquaintance and marriage with Maria Shriver, the birth of children, the foundation of the ”Planet Hollywood”, rivalry and friendship with Sylvester Stallone and many other things.
When I visited the house of Arnold in Austria, I was surprised by the very section of the museum set aside for Schwarzenegger’s political career. In all fairness, not everyone is equally interested in reading about sports and cinema on the one hand and about the problems of the California state budget deficit on the other. Nevertheless, Arnold enthusiastically writes this part of the book, going into the most unexpected details. On the one hand, he describes all the political background, important acquaintances that had been leading him to the governor’s chair for decades. On the other hand, he honestly invites us to his home and conveys how difficult it was for the family, and for Mary, in particular, to make individual decisions. How difficult marriage can be, when the husband is a Republican and the wife is a Democrat from the Kennedy family.
After taking up the chair of the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger plunges us into the routine of decision-making, reforming the economy. At the same time, this part of the book does not seem superfluous or written for the sake of appearance. In any case, this is a story from the point of view of Arnold Schwarzenegger, where he applies his rules and principles, previous experience, to solve problems. There is no difference where diligence and perseverance are to be exercised – within the gym or in the politician’s chair. The final part of the book also includes the chapter called “The Secret” about the sexual relationship with the servant Mildred and the birth of the son Joseph, as well as a brief synopsis of Arnie’s return to the cinema in 2011.
DELICATES ISSUES OF PERSONAL LIFE
We can compare various biographical sources, including Wendy Leigh’s well-known ”Arnold. An Unauthorized Biography”, an excellent detailed book “Fantastic. The Life of Arnold Schwarzenegger” by Lawrence Leamer and the German book, recommended by Arnold himself called ”Arnold Schwarzenegger: Die Biographie” by Mark Hoyer. It should be said that Arnold himself was fairly honest. Perhaps, a franker personal narration from a star of this magnitude, an icon of sports and politics, we would never have.
For decades, the media exaggerated scandals, fragments of childhood, adolescence, and active maturity of Arnold Schwarzenegger, seeking out not the most provocative episodes. As if collecting all of them into one mandatory list on paper, Arnold touched on almost all the delicate topics that were attributed to him. Thus, most of the main themes from a scandal Wendy Leigh’s book now find confirmation in the words of the superstar himself. Personal relationships and family, love affairs, attitudes towards opponents, building a career in sports and cinema. Arnold devotes some topics to a whole chapter; others honor only a couple of uncertain paragraphs, but this does not detract from the value of the autobiography itself, which is one of the best examples of memoirs of our time.
The theme of Arnold’s relationship with his father, Gustav Schwarzenegger, runs like a red thread through the whole book, up to his mature age. Describing his not always simple childhood in the small village of Thal, Arnold admits that his father was an uneasy, domineering figure. The scenes of a drunken father once a week did not affect him as much as the respect for the discipline that his father instilled in him and his brother from an early age. The author sincerely admits that he is always worried about the thought of who he would become if the father were not so strict with him. Could he have had the courage to leave his native city and country, become the greatest athlete, an actor, and afterward an outstanding politician.
Within the book, Arnold tries to find an explanation for the behavior of his father, referring to the military past of a parent in World War II, the ways of generation and place, and great responsibility as chief of local police. The text sheds light on the relationship of the rebellious son with his father, after leaving, first from Thal, and after from Austria. Including a change in Gustav’s attitude with his son’s achievements over the years. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography reveals in more detail, what was acknowledged in ”Pumping iron”, what really happened when Gustav Schwarzenegger had passed away. Revising later periods, the Schwarzenegger recalls the scandal about Gustav’s Nazi past, which Schwarzenegger himself successfully debunked by granting the good name of his parent.
RELATIONS WITH HIS BROTHER
Meinhard Schwarzenegger is remembered in history not as a person, but as the elder brother of Arnold Schwarzenegger and as an antipode to the qualities that the future bodybuilder, actor, and politician developed in himself. While the elder brother was a favorite child in the family, gifted by nature with the best physique and rarely received scolding from his father, little Arnold fought his way through rivalry with his brother. First, to earn the attention and respect of the father, and then to prove to everyone that he is capable of more than working in Austria at the factory or in the police.
Recognizing all the differences with his brother, Arnold Schwarzenegger, nonetheless, gives him only nominal attention in the book, especially after his departure from Thal, first to Graz, and after to Munich and to the USA. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s memoirs honor the circumstances of the death of his brother, as well as what it was for Aurelia to lose a son. Several times in his memoirs, Arnold talks about Meinhard’s adopted son, Patrick. As Arnold writes, the brother met a woman who already had a three-year-old child. Despite this and strained relations with Meinhard, Arnold cites examples of his care for his nephew and his mother.
DASHING TEMPER IN YOUTH AND ADULTHOOD
In his “Total recall” memoirs, Arnold does not recall episodes, such as stories with the help of posing known from “Pumping iron” or advice to eat a spoonful of salt, which Wendy Leigh had revealed to the public. He does not mention his authority among friends, and how he did use them in some aspects. At the same time, Schwarzenegger reveals a number of interesting episodes. Like how he and his brother actually begged people for money, which they explained as a lack of a bus or food. Arnold remembers the desire to stand out among age-mates for the attention of girls. He does not bypass his ability to play a trick on opponents or friends. At number 4 in the section “The Arnold Rules”, we see: “You can use outrageous humor to settle a score”. There he tells the story of how, being a governor, he wrote the answer to his opponent so that ”FUCK YOU” could be recognized from the first letters along the vertical line of each line.
ARNOLD’S LOVE AFFAIRS
If you do not even turn to the connection with Brigitte Nielsen and the maid, Arnold youth was a place for amorous stories. He tells how he began to show interest in girls. As he and his friends used to spend time at the Thalersee lake and Arnold absorbed the habits and ability to behave with the opposite sex, which he observed from the older partners in training. When he once was in a tight tent with a young girl, the tent was unzipped by his mother Aurelia, who made a scandal and called the girl a whore. Arnold says that in Munich there was a hotel where they met with stewardesses, and the area where Putziger’s gym was located, was full of nightclubs. At the same time, Arnold says that love affairs could not distract him from achieving his global goals.
STEROIDS USAGE IN BODYBUILDING
Having already gone from a sport, Arnold had to face the criticism that he had taken hormonal drugs to compete on the stage in bodybuilding. The star confesses that he has derived a formula for himself how to minimize the damage from scandalous criticism – it is better to always be honest. Wendy Leigh wrote that young Arnold began using anabolic steroids in the first year of training when he was 14-15 years. According to Schwarzenegger himself, his first experience in anabolic steroids dates back to 1967. Arnold argues that he was able to win the title of Mr. Europe among juniors and second place in the competition of Mr. Universe in 1966 without using doping, which, of course, is far from the truth. After a couple of paragraphs about going to the doctor for information and prescription and passages about taking hormones only during the contest period, Arnold no longer returns to this topic, although he definitely continued to use steroids in his film career until the early 1990-s. Thus, this topic cannot be characterized, in the tone of the Arnold Schwarzenegger memoir’s title, as an ”unbelievably true life story”.
MENTAL STRUGGLE WITH THE OPPONENTS
Arnold has already paid enough attention to this topic in his first book, ”Education of a Bodybuilder”, as well as in a number of interviews and the ”The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding”. Nevertheless, he is remembered and attributed to the image of the “bad guy.” Of course, the lion’s share in the disclosure of the topic concerns legendary contest battle with Sergio Oliva. Arnold describes in detail how he created the image of an opponent of Sergio, who must get out of the way and be defeated. How he himself lost even before entering the stage in 1969, and what tricks and motivational techniques were implemented the following year, first in Columbus at the new Mr. World contest, and then in New York during his triumph at Mr. Olympia 1970. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography does not bypass the victory over Reg Park, his closest friends, and over Franco Columbu, and unpleasant conflicts with Mike Mentzer before, during and after the Mr. Olympia contest of 1980, still a matter of dispute.
DINO DE LAURENTIIS AND CONAN
Arnold devotes more than one chapter to his role in ”Conan the Barbarian“, as a turning point in his life. He does not ignore the difficulties that stood in the way of taking this opportunity, and among them, there were uneasy relations with the famous Hollywood producer Dino De Laurentiis. During the first acquaintance, Arnold called the movie businessman a short man with a bald head. The book returns several times to this difficult duet, which earned both men millions of dollars and world fame. Commitments to the future sequels of ”Conan” and other projects that could tie Arnold’s hands for a full ten years. The author does not include the producer in the list of his mentors, but he acknowledges that the meeting and the cooperation have become crucial, at least for Arnold.
A LOVE AFFAIR WITH BRIGITTE NIELSEN
Arnold describes in detail the story of acquaintance with his future wife, Maria Shriver, which took place in 1977. And although then they still did not have an agreement about complete loyalty to each other, in 1984, the couple had already met for seven years. Arnold very briefly describes their relationship with Brigitte Nielsen, which took place at the end of 1984. Just a few paragraphs about the fascination with the young model, two weeks of joint vacations in Europe and about the further break. But nevertheless, Arnold is concerned with this topic, which was once hotly debated, including Wendy Leigh’s book. Arnold finishes the story about ”Red Sonja” in her meeting with Stallone, although he doesn’t comment on his involvement in this relationship.
OPPOSITION WITH STALLONE
Another Hollywood discussion topic that has been discussed by all prominent publications of show business and cinema over the past decades. Surprisingly, Arnold returns several times to his matchup with Stallone. The big movie debut in 1976, when Arnold received the Golden Globe for “Stay Hungry”, but Sly’s “Rocky” movie became a sensation and made the writer and actor a star for one night. Arnold Schwarzenegger recalls how he demonized his colleague when he already earned millions for his roles in the 1980-s. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s memoirs recall the mutual attacks in the press and not entirely pleasant jokes. Attributes Stallone with participation in the scandal, when the British newspaper published a slander about the Nazi past of Gustav Schwarzenegger. At the same time, the story gives way to positive colors when two men buried the hatchet of the war, participated in the ”Planet Hollywood” joint business, even lit cigars together. Schwarzenegger was touched when Sly visited him at the hospital and supported him back in 1997.
THE BIRTH OF THE FIRST CHILD
Wendy Leigh, in her book, addressed this topic from the perspective of the problem, namely the fact that Arnold and Maria simply did not have a baby before 1989, because of the possible consequences of Arnold’s consumption of anabolic steroids. Surprisingly, Arnold devotes several pages to this subject so delicate for men. He talks about the concerns of Maria’s parents, in particular, Eunice Shriver. How she went to the doctors and even collected a medical report. But the author describes in detail the preoccupation with his career of himself and of Maria at that time. When a wife earned a million dollars, as a journalist, she was known all over the world and was not in a hurry with the birth of children. When the couple agreed that the moment had come, in fact, there were no problems with conception. At that time Arnold was really 41 years old, and Maria was 33.
Arnold recalls one of his mentors Kurt Waldheim, the Austrian President, and UN Secretary-General in the context of his wedding with Maria in 1986. Arnold publicly supported the politician and a friend, who was then blamed for the ”Nazi past” – such a sensitive issue for the political situation in Germany and Austria in the XX century. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography book draws parallels with the scandal involving the slander of his own father Gustav. But, to a certain extent, Arnold regrets that then he publicly supported Waldheim, whose reputation was heavily damaged.
Arnold devotes an entire chapter under the heading “The secret” to this disputed topic of his personal life as a public figure. It serves as the epilogue of the book, before the “Rules of Arnold”. Schwarzenegger does not go into the dirty details – why and how the act of marital unfaithfulness occurred in detail in 1996. All that Arnold writes about this is: ”Mildred had been working in our household for five years, and all of sudden we were alone in the guest house”. At the same time, Arnold Schwarzenegger tells in detail about his guilt towards Maria and how he helped and continues to help his son Joseph and his mother Mildred, who had worked as a servant. The book goes into great detail about how Maria returned to this painful subject for her.