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Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s career has been nothing short of remarkable — and it’s not over yet!

The Austrian-born star overcame an abusive childhood and then rose to fame for his bodybuilding feats before becoming a darling of both action movies and comedy. When he took that popularity and transformed it into a win for Governor of California, his tale seemed like the American Dream embodied. 

While the star certainly portrays larger-than-life characters on the big screen, he’s also survived some pretty tremendous real-life tragedies. In fact, Schwarzenegger has cheated death and lived to tell the tale at least three times. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger got a tragic start in life

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger | VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Arnold Schwarzenegger was born into unfortunate circumstances. As explains, he was born in 1947 in Austria to an abusive father with Nazi ties. Frequently the victim of his father’s violent outbursts, a young Schwarzenegger turned to film as an escape from a life of misery, and he was particularly taken with bodybuilding. Soon, he was dreaming of a life in America where he could live out that kind of fame as well. 

Schwarzenegger not only achieved his dreams but exceeded them. He got into bodybuilding and took the athletic scene by storm, racking up an astonishing five Mr. Universe and six Mr. Olympia titles. He also helped bring the sport into the mainstream, and that success helped him make his immigration to America a reality as well. Soon, he was using his famously muscular frame to portray some of cinema’s most iconic action heroes. 

From Terminator to Predator to Conan the Barbarian, Schwarzenegger became an iconic action star throughout the 1980s. He demonstrated a wider range, though, when he started taking on comedy parts that used his hulking size as a kind of unexpected joke. These parts endeared Schwarzenegger to even more audiences, and he was able to translate that success into an even more surprising move. 

In 2003, Schwarzenegger — the child of an abusive Austrian with Nazi connections — became Governor of California. He would stay in the role until 2011 and enjoy a relatively popular run at the difficult job. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger has faced deadly situations in real life

As if Schwarzenegger’s life wasn’t impressive enough, he’s also demonstrated immense courage and resilience in the face of some real-life tragedies. 

In 2006, while actively serving as Governor of California, Schwarzenegger took a spill on his motorcycle that left him with face lacerations. His then-12-year-old son, Patrick, was also on the bike, and Schwarzenegger expressed gratefulness that things went the way they did, according to USA Today. “I was very lucky,” Schwarzenegger, who was wearing a helmet, explained. “It could have been very different.”

In 2009, still Governor, Schwarzenegger was on a plane that had to make an emergency landing following smoke in the cockpit. As Los Angeles Times reports, the action star once again took the incident in stride, taking to Twitter to call it a “little adventure.” 

Bizarrely, even just being as famous as he is has left him vulnerable to some strange threats. In 2019, then-71-year-old Schwarzenegger was randomly attacked by an assailant who attempted to drop-kick him to the ground. As The Washington Post reports, Schwarzenegger was able to stay on his feet, and the strange incident was caught on camera since the actor was recording a video for fans at the time. 

Health concerns plague Arnold Schwarzenegger in recent years


How Arnold Schwarzenegger Overcame His Family’s Dark Past in Austria

Schwarzenegger has survived some potentially deadly events in the past, but now he faces internal threats as well. The 73-year-old actor is facing some health challenges that have left him with a doctor-ordered diet and concerns about his heart. 

In 1997, Schwarzenegger underwent elective heart surgery to replace a faulty valve. That valve had to be replaced in 2018. In late 2020, as CNN reports, the star once again went under the knife. “I feel fantastic and have already been walking the streets of Cleveland enjoying your amazing statues,” Schwarzenegger tweeted following the successful surgery.