Arnold Schwarzenegger Has Revealed The Distressing Reason His Dad Beat Him As A Child

Actor, politician and all-round tough guy Arnold Schwarzenegger began his glittering career in the world of bodybuilding. But, sadly, his teenage interest in the physical sport led to physical violence at home. Here’s a look at why Schwarzenegger was routinely beaten by his father simply for choosing to dream.

Born in the Austrian village of Thal in 1947, Schwarzenegger became a Hollywood star in 1982 after playing the titular character in Conan the Barbarian. Then, two years later, he landed another iconic eponymous role in James Cameron’s sci-fi classic The Terminator. The man dubbed “the Austrian Oak” later reprised the character for several sequels – most notably in 1991’s ground-breaking Judgment Day.

Schwarzenegger then cemented his status as the 1980s’ ultimate action hero with performances in The Running Man, Commando and Predator. But turns in Kindergarten Cop and Twins showed that he also had a funny bone along with all those muscles. Having conquered Hollywood, however, the actor subsequently switched his attention to the field of politics.

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In 2003 Schwarzenegger was the seemingly unlikely winner of a race to succeed Gray Davis as the Governor of California. The star then retained his position following a gubernatorial election three years later. After having served two terms, though, the so-called “Governator” then retired from the political arena in 2011 and headed back again to acting.

2011 was also the year that Schwarzenegger’s marriage to Maria Shriver came to an end after a quarter of a century. The actress left the couple’s Brentwood home for good on learning that her husband had fathered a love child with their housekeeper in 1997. And following the revelations, Brigitte Nielsen also alleged that she’d had an affair with her one-time co-star while he had been with Shriver.

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Schwarzenegger and Shriver later agreed to share custody of Patrick and Christopher, their two youngest children. The couple also have two older kids, Katherine and Christina, both of whom had already reached adulthood at the time of the separation. And the Austrian star would later cite the anguish he’d caused his family and the resulting marriage split as among his greatest regrets in life.

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But then again, Schwarzenegger had experienced plenty of pain while growing up himself. His father Gustav Schwarzenegger, a police chief and one-time member of the Nazi Party, was a strict man who often used violence if his kids stepped out of line. Gustav also held unconfirmed suspicions that Schwarzenegger wasn’t his biological son and seemed to heavily prefer his eldest child, Meinhard, as a result.

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And in 2014 Schwarzenegger talked about the abuse he allegedly suffered at the hands of his father in an interview with Fortune. There, he said, “My hair was pulled. I was hit with belts. So was the kid next door. It was just the way it was. Many of the children I’ve seen were broken by their parents, which was the German-Austrian mentality.”

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The actor added, “[Parents] didn’t want to create an individual. It was all about conforming. I was one who did not conform, and whose will could not be broken. Therefore, I became a rebel. Every time I got hit, and every time someone said, ‘You can’t do this,’ I said, ‘This is not going to be for much longer because I’m going to move out of here.’”

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Perhaps as a result of his rebellion, Schwarzenegger decided to take up bodybuilding in his mid-teens. And he was highly successful at the discipline, being crowned Mr. Universe at the age of just 20. By the end of his career, Schwarzenegger had also emerged victorious in the Mr. Olympia competition on seven occasions; understandably, then, he is widely regarded as one of the best competitors in bodybuilding history.

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However, Schwarzenegger’s early passion for the sport certainly wasn’t appreciated by his incredibly strict dad. In fact, Gustav mistook his son’s interest in professional bodybuilders for an interest in men in general. And, as a result, the father resorted to disciplining Schwarzenegger harshly.

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“He ran after me with a belt and beat me,” Schwarzenegger told 60 Minutes in 2014, referring to his father. Gustav had reportedly assumed that his son was gay due to the various posters of male athletes that Schwarzenegger had pinned up all over his bedroom wall. And according to the star himself, his mother Aurelia was also convinced that there was something apparently concerning about such behavior.

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In fact, Aurelia even sought out professional medical help to see if there really was a problem. Schwarzenegger told the same news magazine show that his mother had asked one particular doctor, “Can you help me? I don’t know if there’s something wrong with my son because his wall is full of naked men. All of Arnold’s friends have pictures of girls above their bed. And Arnold has no girls.’”

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But Schwarzenegger’s father also didn’t like his son’s bodybuilding obsession for another reason. Speaking at an ESPN event in 2012, the star said, “[Gustav] told me, ‘You gotta be useful. And building your body – you’re just building it for yourself, but you’re not really doing anything. Why don’t you go out and chop wood and shovel coal or do something that you can be useful?’”

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It’s thought that Gustav’s behavior may have influenced Schwarzenegger’s decision not to attend his dad’s funeral in 1972. In the documentary film Pumping Iron, the star claims that he was absent from the ceremony due to his training commitments for an upcoming bodybuilding competition. But the movie’s producer later alleged that this excuse had been fabricated in order to create a furor.

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Ironically, Schwarzenegger later posed nude for an article about bodybuilding in gay interest magazine After Dark. The piece, titled “Musclebound for Glory,” was described as an insight into what was termed “one of the most fascinating – and least explored – subcultures in America.” The star also graced the front cover of the February 1977 issue.

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Yet Schwarzenegger seemingly didn’t prove to be much of an LGBT ally when he first took over as Governor of California. In fact, he vetoed not just one but two marriage bills for same-sex couples in the mid-2000s. He also once stated during an interview with Fox News, “I think gay marriage should be between a man and a woman.”

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However, Schwarzenegger later changed his stance on the matter. He even went on to ask his Republican peers to rethink their views on the subject during a debate in Indiana on religious freedom laws. He also acted as the officiant at two same-sex wedding ceremonies himself and issued a hilarious “Hasta la vista” response to a Facebook follower who disagreed with his support for the issue.

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“I’m very happy that they made the right decision on that because we in California, of course, are always a step ahead!” Schwarzenegger told the media following the 2015 legalization of gay marriage throughout the U.S. He added, “Everyone has equal rights, so this is the right way to go. I think it’s a great celebration for America.”

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Since leaving the world of politics behind, however, Schwarzenegger has thrown himself back fully into his movie career. And he has added to his filmography in 2018 with the role of James Hook in Viy 2: Journey to China, which is being released in 2019. But it is his upcoming appearance in another sequel, the sixth chapter in the Terminator franchise, that has gotten his fans most excited.

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