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Arnold Schwarzenegger Actor Facts – Mental Floss

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Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1977.
Evening Standard/Getty Images

Rarely has anyone been more driven to succeed than Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Austrian came to America in the 1960s and became a champion bodybuilder. Refuting advice that his accent was too thick, his body too developed, and his name too confusing, he became the biggest box office attraction in the world thanks to films like 1982’s Conan the Barbarian and 1984’s The Terminator. That would satisfy most ambitious people, but Schwarzenegger then went a step further and became governor of California in 2003.

With the “Austrian Oak” celebrating his 73rd birthday on July 30, we’re taking a look at some of the most interesting facts of his life and career.

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger went AWOL in the Austrian military.

Born July 30, 1947 near Graz, Austria, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s family did not lead a comfortable life. Their home had no plumbing and no telephone. Schwarzenegger’s father, Gustav, was the village police chief and also a member of the Nazi party, which his son didn’t learn until much later on in his life. His father also pitted Schwarzenegger against his older brother, Meinhard, in various athletic contests, but it wasn’t until Arnold discovered bodybuilding that he found his calling.

Schwarzenegger, who made his own weights at a local metalworking shop, trained while performing a compulsory one-year tour of duty in the Austrian Army beginning in 1965. (Thanks to the balanced meals and protein offered by the military, he also gained 25 pounds.) During his time there, Schwarzenegger fled the base without permission so that he could enter a bodybuilding competition in Germany. He won, then spent seven days in military prison for the offense.

2. Arnold Schwarzenegger learned how to drive a tank.

While serving in the Austrian military, Schwarzenegger was given instruction on how to operate a tank. The vehicle apparently held some sentimental value for him, as he later acquired it and brought it to America. In 2000, he loaned the tank to the Motts Military Museum in Ohio, then had it returned to him in 2008 with plans to offer rides to disadvantaged youth in Los Angeles as a reward for working hard in school.

3. Arnold Schwarzenegger used psychological warfare to defeat his bodybuilding opponents.

Schwarzenegger arrived in the United States in 1968 to pursue his bodybuilding career and enjoyed tremendous success, eventually winning seven Mr. Olympia titles. But it wasn’t solely due to his physique. In 2015, Schwarzenegger told podcast host Tim Ferris that he purposely engaged in psychological warfare to distract and shake the confidence of other competitors. He might, for example, ask a bodybuilder if they had a knee problem. “And they say, ‘Why are you asking?’” Schwarzenegger said. “I said, ‘Well, because your thighs look a little slimmer to me. I thought maybe you can’t squat or maybe there’s some problem with leg extension.’” The contestant would then feel self-conscious, and Schwarzenegger—always possessed of immense confidence—would capitalize on their insecurity, upstaging his opponent in front of the contest judges.

4. Arnold Schwarzenegger was already a millionaire before he got into acting.

Though he was successful in his bodybuilding career, Schwarzenegger wanted to have a reliable source of income beyond prize purses. He invested the money he won in competitions in California real estate, profiting immensely off the rise in property values in the 1970s. In doing so, he was able to be selective about the opportunities he chose to pursue in acting.

5. Mark Hamill told Arnold Schwarzenegger to lose his accent.

When his bodybuilding career began winding down, Schwarzenegger started looking to acting as his next challenge. Getting the title role in 1970’s Hercules in New York (where he was billed as Arnold Strong) did little to advance his ambition, as the movie was poorly-received and his heavy Austrian accent was dubbed over by an American actor. Later, after 1977’s Star Wars became a hit, Schwarzenegger asked Mark Hamill for advice. Hamill told him to lose the accent and his last name to give himself the best chance for success. Schwarzenegger obviously ignored the advice. He later said that he ultimately felt the accent was a benefit, since it made him a more distinctive commodity in Hollywood.

6. Arnold Schwarzenegger almost starred in a Hans and Franz musical.

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Schwarzenegger had a sense of humor about Hans and Franz, the over-pumped Austrian bodybuilders played by Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon on Saturday Night Live. According to writer Robert Smigel, the actor was even interested in appearing in a big-screen Hans and Franz movie musical in the early 1990s. The characters would have been depicted as heading to California to pursue stardom, with Schwarzenegger appearing as both a version of himself and as the duo’s grandmother. The film was never made.

7. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s childhood home is now a museum.

As the pride of his tiny hometown of Thal, Austria, Schwarzenegger’s childhood residence is now a museum. The announcement came in 2011, with visitors able to go inside the first-floor flat and view Schwarzenegger’s old bed, a motorcycle from The Terminator, weightlifting equipment, and a copy of the desk he used while he was governor of California.

8. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be president (in a movie).

Because he was not born in America, Schwarzenegger is ineligible to run for the office of the President of the United States, which is something the actor said he would have done if he had been able. (And no, he couldn’t become vice president, either.) But there is no such law barring him from playing one in a movie. The actor will appear as the U.S. President in Kung Fury 2, a sequel to the 2014 short film parody of 1980s action movies directed by and starring David Sandberg. A release date has not yet been announced.

Amazon

Pop culture trends often find themselves coming and going in cycles—a toy can be the hottest item on shelves one year and be a punchline the next. But if you wait long enough, sometimes they’re given new life years or decades later once the pendulum of nostalgia swings back their way. And right now, childhood favorites from the ’80s and ’90s are finding themselves relevant again as adults try to share their most beloved toys and games from the past with the current children in their life.

That’s exactly why we’ve rounded up some of the most popular toys and games of the ’80s and ’90s that are still being made today. Some of them are newly revived, while others never really left—either way, whether you’re looking for a sentimental gift for yourself or someone else, try these memories from your childhood.

1. Tamagotchis; $20-$60

Even though they’ve been around for more than 20 years, Tamagotchis are still everyone’s favorite virtual pet. But in the digital age, they’re a bit more sophisticated. Instead of just looking after your pet’s health, the new full-color Tamagotchi On ($60) model allows you to bring your digital companion shopping, help it make friends, get married, and even start a family. If that sounds exhausting, don’t worry: the company also puts out the Tamagotchi Original ($20), which faithfully recreates the original 1997 version you remember from childhood, complete with the same sound effects, black-and-white pixel display, and poop-scooping tasks.

If you really want to relive that vintage flavor, though, you can still find authentic models from the ’90s from third-party sellers on Amazon or through eBay auctions. No matter which model you go for, you can enjoy all the perks of having a pet without any of the responsibility.

Buy it: Amazon (Tamagotchi Original, Tamagotchi On)

2. Furby Connect; $80

Furby, the must-buy toy of 1998, might look less like a creepy gremlin and more like an adorable duckling these days, but it’s still that same weird toy you chatted with after school (or accidentally revealed national secrets to). Although you can still communicate with today’s Furbies by teaching them English, you can also download an app that lets you explore a digital world together. If you’d prefer to keep it old school, you can still find secondhand versions of the original Furbies online (like this one on Amazon).

Buy it: Amazon

3. Fashion Plates Deluxe; $29

Who needs Project Runway when you can be your own designer? Much like a vintage purse or an Italian leather jacket, this Fashion Plates kit (which originally hit the market back in 1978) only gets better with time. All you have to do is select three different plates, snap them into the drawing tablet, and color away! The plates may be more fashion-forward than when you were a kid (shoulder pads aren’t exactly all the rage these days), but they’ll still let you express your inner fashionista—so long as you color inside the lines.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Pound Puppies; $16

Before Tamagotchis were a thing—and if you wanted something better than a pet rock—you had Pound Puppies. Invented by a Ford automobile assembly worker, these soft and squishy toys came in a cardboard box from the “pound” with your very own certificate of adoption. Today’s Classic ’80s Collection features puppies modeled after the original line from decades back, complete with a sticker sheet, name tag, and those signature floppy ears. Even if you don’t have a living, breathing pet of your own, you can still take care of your beloved pound puppy: no poop-scooping required.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Magna Doodle; $28

Easier than Etch A Sketch but just as cool, Magna Doodle was originally invented by Japanese engineers as a “dustless chalkboard” for businesses—lucky for us, they eventually realized it was much better off as a toy. Many years and millions of copies later, Magna Doodles are still beloved by kids today. This retro version comes with an “magic” doodling pen and stamps so you can let your inner Picasso run free. And when you’re ready to start a new creation, you can simply wipe the screen away for a (literal) clean slate.

Buy it: Amazon

6. and 7. Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Mini Consoles; $50-$297

Though Sega is known strictly as a software provider now, the company came to mainstream prominence in the U.S. with its signature line of video game consoles in the ’80s and ’90s, led by the Sega Genesis. This miniature replica of the original Genesis, complete with two era-accurate controllers, may be smaller than the one you originally played with, but it’s no less powerful. Featuring 40 classic titles, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Golden Axe, and Earthworm Jim, all you have to do is plug it into your TV’s HDMI port to get your retro gaming fix.

If you’re more of a Nintendo fan and are willing to pay a tidy sum to third-party sellers to stomp through Super Mario World again, there’s the Super Nintendo Classic Edition. This mini console comes with 21 games, including Super Mario Kart, Super Metroid, and Street Fighter II. If you want the real deal, though, Amazon actually sells certified-refurbished Super Nintendo ($230) and Sega Genesis ($70) consoles from the ’90s on its website.

Buy it: Amazon (Sega Genesis Mini, Super Nintendo Classic Edition)

8. Mall Madness; $25

Mall Madness has captured the hearts of bargain shoppers ever since it hit the market back in 1988. Even though the game has been met with some controversy over the years—critics thought it encouraged reckless spending—it’s resonated with tweens so much that the fourth generation of Mall Madness will hit stores in October 2020. If you can’t wait that long, you can still buy the original game or the 2004 version from third-party sellers.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Street Fighter II arcade cabinet; $300

Street Fighter II arcade cabinets gobbled up the quarters of competitive gamers to the tune of billions of dollars in the ’90s, and with these replicas from ARCADE 1UP, you can finally relive your joystick-twisting heyday. The cabinets themselves feature the exact artwork you’d find on the original Street Fighter II machines, but the real highlight is that it comes with three versions of the game pre-programmed into it: Champion Edition, The New Challengers, and Turbo. Unlike the original version from the ’90s, this has an upgraded 17-inch color LCD screen and can plug right into an AC outlet. And if Street Fighter II was never your thing, ARCADE1UP also offers a 4-in-1 Final Fight, a 3-in-1 Asteroids game, and a 2-in-1 Galaga and Pac-Man game.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Polly Pocket 30th Anniversary; $27

Polly Pocket was the brainchild of Chris Wiggs, a dad who wanted an on-the-go toy for his daughter that would fit in her pocket. Although Polly has changed a bit since she first hit shelves in 1989, this 30th anniversary edition pays homage to the original Partytime Surprise compact. With all of the details that made young millennials fall in love, like a spinning dance floor, tiny presents, and festive decorations, this commemorative edition is reason alone to celebrate. But if you’re looking for something even more authentic, you can still find people selling the original Polly Pockets on Amazon, like this original 1989 World Fun Fair compact.

Buy it: Amazon

11. Bop It!; $28

The unique look of the original Bop It! helped it capture the wandering eyes of kids in an increasingly competitive toy market in the ’90s. And while the newer versions have updated some features—the classic twist it/pull it/bop it commands are now joined by “sing it,” “drink it,” and even “selfie it”—the modern Bop It! still manages to retain the same charm some 25 years later.

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Jason Bateman stars in Ozark.
Jason Bateman stars in Ozark.
Steve Dietl, Netflix

Getting on the wrong side of the wrong people is a classic mistake, but Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) went ahead and did it anyway—and dragged his family along for the ride. The Netflix series Ozark is a bit like Breaking Bad … if Walter White had come clean about making drugs early on, and Skyler had been completely on board.

It’s dark and twisty and every success promises a failure. Byrde flees Chicago to get away from a drug cartel, only to run into a drug cartel in his new Missouri home. If that kind of thing happens, you’ve gotta assume you’re the problem.

Here are 20 facts about the latest show about a troubled middle-class white dude, which won Jason Bateman an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series in 2019—and just earned him a nod for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 2020 (with additional nominations for his co-stars Laura Linney and Julia Garner, as well as one for Outstanding Drama Series).

1. Ozark’s co-creator crafted the show with his own memories.

Missouri native and show co-creator Bill Dubuque chose to set Ozark at Lake of the Ozarks because he worked there as a teenager for the Alhonna Resort and Marina. He has a deep love for the place, even if his characters despair at moving to the “Redneck Riviera.”

2. Neither Jason Bateman nor Laura Linney was interested in starring in a television series when Ozark came along.

Laura Linney wasn’t interested in doing a series, but she was intrigued because of Jason Bateman’s involvement and the possibility of watching him stretch his acting range. But Bateman almost wasn’t on board because he, too, was uninterested in doing another series when the project came to him. He became a producer on Ozark and directed four episodes (originally he was set to direct all of them until a scheduling conflict popped up) because joining the show meant postponing a foray into feature film directing. The pilot episode—and the chance to do some directing—convinced him to join.

3. Ozark’s creators attempted to get Peter Mullan on board before there was even a script.

Peter Mullan is a fierce character actor—not to mention a writer and director—known for My Name is Joe and smaller, powerful roles like the fascist guard in Children of Men and the wealthy owner of Delos on Westworld. Bateman desperately wanted to cast Mullan in Ozark after seeing him in Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake, so he and the show’s creators “aggressively pursued” Mullan before they’d even finished the script.

4. Laura Linney pushed to make her Ozark character more than “just a wife.”

Linney was definitely drawn to the script when she read it, even though she saw her potential character as one that needed more dimensions. There was unrealized potential there because Wendy was “just a wife,” defined entirely by her relationship to Marty. So, she took her concerns to Bateman, who agreed they needed to flesh the character out, and now Wendy is a monster all her own.

5. Marty wears the same shoes every Jason Bateman character does.

If you focus on shoes whenever you’re watching a show or movie, you’ll probably notice that Jason Bateman wears a lot of New Balance. That’s no different in Ozark, where his character is rocking the J. Crew x New Balance M1400DM, which is potentially bad product placement because you can’t buy them anywhere.

6. Symbols hidden in the “O” of the Ozark title card foreshadow the episode.

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Emerging from the brooding title music, the show teases what you’re about to see with icons embedded in the title’s first letter. A spilled oil drum, a gun, a man on his knees. A rat, a swimming pool ladder, a child’s playground. Designed by Fred Davis and Kellerhouse, the title cards are an ingenious tool in an era where fans are desperate to catch and solve narrative clues. This show primes that pump and offers fans something to search for.

7. Jason Bateman feels bad about killing off characters on Ozark.

Finally, a TV producer who admits to feeling what we all feel. The shocking deaths that keep us hooked to a show are also lamentable. It’s safe to say we miss some characters when they’re gone, and Bateman gets that. “Selfishly, you want everyone to stick around,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “We had a really great group of actors. It’s terrible when these people have to go, but that’s the trade-off of doing these kinds of shows. You have to be willing to make big moves because that’s where everything is at nowadays.”

8. Laura Linney has trouble keeping Wendy’s moral compass straight on Ozark.

Laura Linney’s Wendy has evolved into one of the most complicated characters on the show because of her readiness and capability to take on immoral and illegal actions. It’s part of the challenge of knowing where the character is during any given storyline, especially when Linney doesn’t know how her story will end. “It really is a partnership between the actor and the writers and the director as well,” she told Vanity Fair. “To sort of let things unfold in a way that feels right and is organic so that you don’t get too far ahead of yourself or too far behind yourself.”

9. Ozark’s production team learned how to launder money from the FBI.

Aside from knowing which side of the dock to approach in your boat, the writers needed to develop an understanding of how money laundering works in real life so they could create a reasonable facsimile in their fictional world. Naturally, they called the feds. “We had an FBI agent who investigates money laundering come and sit down with us for a day so we could pick her brain,” writer Chris Mundy said.

10. Ozark features a few subtle nods to Arrested Development.

Since it covered so much ground and made so many references of its own, it’s probably impossible for Bateman to be involved in anything without noticing some Arrested Development nods. For Ozark, that includes Marty stuffing palates of cash into the walls of the resort (sans banana stand) and waxing intellectual about maritime law (all aboard the Queen Mary!).

11. Julia Garner needed a hand double on Ozark.

Julia Garner, who won an Emmy in 2019 for playing incipient criminal genius Ruth Langmore, imbues her character with grit and tenacity—but she had to call for backup during a scene involving a mouse because she hates rodents. She was supposed to pick up a mouse and drop it into some water, but she was on the verge of a panic attack, so they got a hand double to do it. “The whole crew was laughing at me,” Garner told W Magazine. “It was so embarrassing, and I couldn’t even lift it.”

12. Laura Linney sees her Ozark character as a prism.

Wendy’s elusive morality stems from what Linney views as the character’s ability to take in new information and conceive of many different courses of action. “I think she is sort of a prism,” Linney told NPR. “You can shine something through her, and it goes in a million different directions and it just depends upon, you know, where she is at the moment. I don’t think she wants to be a bad person. She wants to be better than she is, but her nature is a little more dubious than she ever knew about herself.”

13. Jason Bateman sees Wendy as better equipped to handle all the bad stuff.

Maybe that’s why Bateman sees his character’s spouse as the more capable figure in their illegal schemes. While he called Wendy a “ninja” who has got what it takes to keep going, he also told Deadline that, at the end of season 2, Marty has “reached his limit [of] his ability to cope with things.”

14. The characters on Ozark love Canadian football.

They don’t call it that on the show, but the clips used in the background for several scenes are from the Canadian Football League. The show has used the same play from a Toronto Argos/Montreal Alouettes game multiple times, which really makes you wonder what cable package the Byrdes have.

15. A Dance Moms star auditioned to play Charlotte on Ozark.

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Chloe Lukasiak is best known as one of the original cast members for the reality show Dance Moms, where the children danced and the moms fought, but she also auditioned for the role of the Byrdes’ daughter. The role went to Sofia Hublitz, but you can watch Chloe’s audition above.

16. The success of Ozark led to the opening of a real-life bar in Missouri.

Just as Atlanta caused a fictional chicken wing order to become real, Ozark has bled into the tourist scene in Missouri. If you’re visiting Lake Ozark, Missouri, you can hit up Marty Byrde’s Bar and Grill for Del’s Nachos, Ruth’s Smoked Wings, or Wendy’s Philly Steak Sandwich.

17. A real-life robber hid out in the Ozarks.

It’s either a coincidence or an improbable story the producers have never talked about in interviews, but Eddie Maher—a security truck driver who stole $1.6 million from his own truck—fled to the United States and hid for nearly two decades. At first he and his family settled in Colorado, but they made their way to Ozark, Missouri, which is where his son’s wife turned him into authorities. The fake name Maher lived under for years? Stephen King.

18. Ozark is filmed in Atlanta.

Even though the show takes place in the Ozarks and was inspired by the Alhonna Resort, much of the show is filmed near and around Atlanta, Georgia, where a large production industry has bloomed over the last decade. Specifically, Ozark shoots in Eagle Rock Studios for its interior scenes, at Chateau Elan for Del’s sprawling estate, and, when they need to hit the water, Lake Altoona, which is about an hour outside of Atlanta.

19. The owner of the real-life resort hopes people realize Ozark is a piece of fiction.

Is a popular show set in your neck of the lake good for tourism? Shirley Gross-Russel hopes so. Her family owns the resort where Ozark is set (the same one where Dubuque worked at as a teen), and although it may not be everyone’s cup of tea to be associated with a story about drug-running, money laundering, and death, Gross-Russel is banking on people knowing that a TV show is just a TV show. Hopefully guests won’t go ripping the walls apart looking for hidden cash.

20. Ozark will end with season 4.

With the launch of the third season in March 2020, Bateman revealed that Netflix hasn’t ordered a fourth season yet, and that, if they do, the show probably won’t go much further beyond it. The production has assumed it would go for somewhere between three and five seasons. “Given the intelligence of Marty Byrde and Wendy Byrde, if they keep going at this pitch for much longer, they’re either going to be killed or put in jail,” Bateman told Collider. “The alternative is to flatten out that pitch so that you don’t end up jumping the shark, but then you start stalling just for additional episodes and seasons. So I’m not sure where and when it’ll end, but given their intelligence, it doesn’t feel like it’s a 12-season show.”

Just a few months later, in June 2020, it was announced that Ozark‘s fourth season—which would be an extended seasons presented in two parts—would officially be its last.

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