Notable roles: The Terminator (1984), Total Recall (1990), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), True Lies (1994)
Political position: Governor of California (2003-2011)
It’s still surreal to us that the man who was famous for his testosterone-laden one-liners and rippling pecs managed to muscle his way into the governor’s mansion. The American populace is obsessed with all things celebrity, so Arnold's victory really was a no-brainer from the second he announced his candidacy.
What Schwarzenegger lacked in an impressive education or political experience, he more than made up for in a small fortune and a metric-ton of charisma. The craziness surrounding the 2003 California recall election helped his chances considerably, as Arnold was pitted against 134 candidates that were a mix of no-name citizens and Z-list notables like Gary Coleman and Larry Flynt.
Legitimate politicians got lost in an avalanche of candidates that swarmed the ballot as Arnold’s larger-than-life personality managed to rise above the madness for an easy victory. This is a man who came to this country from Austria without being able to speak fluent English, became the biggest actor of the ‘90s, and eventually landed a high-profile political position without really having to try too hard. Whether you agree with his beliefs or not, it’s impossible to deny that the man is one of the biggest success stories that the country has ever seen.
And like most politicians living the dream, his whole world came crashing down around him towards the end of his tenure as allegations of adultery and the existence of an illegitimate lovechild lit up tabloid headlines everywhere. Then again, is there anything more American than a little controversy?