Arnold Schwarzenegger Once Saved a Man’s Life While on Vacation in Hawaii

When it comes to actors with a surprising career trajectory, Arnold Schwarzenegger has to be among the top. The bodybuilder/action movie star/politician has kept fans on their toes with his fascinating turns throughout his life. 

He’s known for his famous lines that even those who have never seen his classic action films can quote with ease. He’s also known for becoming governor of California, a tremendously important job that required Schwarzenegger to face serious crises

With both his on- and off-screen identities squarely rooted in heroic territory, it perhaps shouldn’t come as any surprise that Schwarzenegger once saved a man’s life while on vacation. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a world-class bodybuilder

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Born in 1947 in Austria, Schwarzenegger first rose to fame as a bodybuilder. As Biography.com reports, Schwarzenegger came from a tumultuous home where his father regularly berated and beat him.

Escaping into the world of film helped Schwarzenegger deal with the trauma, and he was especially inspired by the work of Reg Park, a B-movie actor who took on the role of Hercules. Schwarzenegger set his mind to making it to America and following in Park’s footsteps, and that’s exactly what he did. 

Schwarzenegger would go on to take the bodybuilding world by storm, launching it into the mainstream in the process. He took home an astounding five Mr. Universe titles and immigrated to the United States in 1968. In 1970, he got his first acting credit: playing the title character in Hercules Takes New York

Action films defined Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career

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It didn’t take long for Schwarzenegger’s bodybuilding success to translate to the screen. In fact, he received a Golden Globe nomination for his 1976 performance in Stay Hungry, demonstrating that he was more than a muscular frame and had some serious acting potential. His portrayal of the title character in Conan the Barbarian (1982) would help define his career, and other action roles that played up his size and power followed. 

Roles in The Terminator (1984) and Predator (1987) stand out as his most memorable and are now classics within the action genre. Schwarzenegger showed off a sense of humor by taking on plenty of roles that used his hulking size and strength in unconventional ways as well. Comedies like Kindergarten Cop (1990) and Twins (1988) introduced Schwarzenegger to a whole new audience. 

Schwarzenegger’s rise to fame was already stunning enough. His rejection of his family’s dark past (and Nazi ties) to become a beloved American action hero was astounding. He wasn’t done yet, though. In 2003, he became the 38th governor of California, a role he filled until 2011. These days, he’s back on the big screen with projects — including The Legend of Conan — in production. 

A drowning man found real-life hero in Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger at the NBCUniversal 2016 upfront presentation
Arnold Schwarzenegger at the NBCUniversal 2016 upfront presentation | Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

In 2004, Schwarzenegger was on vacation in Hawaii with his family. At the time, he was actively California’s governor, and it must have been quite a surprise to have the high-profile politician rush to save the day for a swimmer who found himself cramping up while offshore.  

As Hello! Magazine reports, Schwarzenegger was eagle-eyed enough to notice the man in distress. Thinking quickly, Schwarzenegger grabbed a boogie board and headed to the struggling swimmer.

San Francisco Gate reports, “No one knows the name of the man the governor helped out. Maui police said there was no report of the incident, and they noted that swimmers run into problems nearly every day on local beaches without it warranting a report or any fanfare.”