Arnold Schwarzenegger, the muscular star of such films as “Terminator 2,” “Twins” and “Conan,” will be the American Cinematheque’s 1998 Moving Picture Ball honoree Sept. 12 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Schwarzenegger, the 12th recipient of the award, joins the ranks of such past winners as Eddie Murphy, Sean Connery, Bette Midler, Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg and, most recently, John Travolta.
The former seven-time Mr. Olympia champion sprang onto the film scene two decades ago in the documentary “Pumping Iron” and quickly followed with one of his most serious roles in “Stay Hungry,” co-starring opposite Jeff Bridges and Sally Field and earning a Golden Globe as best newcomer.
Initially consigned to action roles, Schwarzenegger segued into sci-fi when he was cast by James Cameron as a robotic killing machine in 1984’s “The Terminator.” He graduated to light comic roles in “Twins” and “Kindergarten Cop,” but maintained his action base with the likes of “Total Recall,” “True Lies” and “Eraser.”
The Austrian-born performer arrived in the U.S. in 1968, already a Mr. Universe winner at the age of 20. Though he lost his first American competition, bodybuilding guru Joe Weider took him under his wing, seeing him as both a champion and a charismatic spokesman for the sport.
What separated Schwarzenegger from the pack was intelligence and humor and a drive for self-improvement. Earning a degree in business administration at the U. of Wisconsin, he developed a portfolio of stocks and real estate investments as he strove toward a film career.
Despite a pronounced accent, an absence of formal training and some ill-advised early career choices, Schwarzenegger’s star status grew through a combination of work ethos and force of personality. Within the industry, he’s long been considered one of the most tireless promoters of his movies and a shrewd businessman when it comes to cutting deals.
He’s also been a keen philanthropist and active spokesman on health issues. George Bush appointed him the chair of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, and he set up the Inner-City Games Foundation during his tenure.
In recent years, Schwarzenegger has stepped behind the camera to direct an episode of the HBO anthology “Tales From the Crypt” and a remake of “Christmas in Connecticut” for Turner Network Television.
The Moving Picture Ball is the Cinematheque’s major annual fundraiser, attracting more than 1,000 guests annually and generating roughly $1 million to support its programs. The organization is scheduled to open a permanent site to the public at the refurbished Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard in December.