The Icons That Built America Recap for Action Heroes

The Icons That Built America Recap for Action Heroes

-This week’s episode of The Icons that Built America focuses on action heroes…Slyvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

-Before he became the superhero the world knows and loves, Arnold grew up in a small town in Austria with big dreams. He had a school assignment to write about someone in the news and settled on Mr. Austria, a bodybuilder. He decided to do the same and began working out, beginning at the tender age of fourteen.

-He fell in love with the sport and decided to take it as far as he could….eating, drinking and breathing the sport. His goal was to go to America to make his dreams come true….and also be in movies.

-Before he could do this, he had to serve three years of mandatory military service. However, he wanted to compete in Junior Mr. Europe, which conflicted with his service. He decided to go AWOL to compete….and ended up in solitary confinement when he was caught. Things looked grim…until it was discovered that he won.

-Arnold’s career as a bodybuilder skyrocketed and he began competing in other competitions, including Mr. Universe. He would go on to work with Joe Weider, a legendary bodybuilder, who helped him become the face of the sport…or what we now know as an influencer.

-Joe became a mentor and father figure to Arnold and would not only get him to compete in Mr. Olympia, but also in movies. However, Arnold’s acting wasn’t that good and he became a laughingstock.

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-Another young man, known as Sly Stallone, was a troubled kid who wanted to become an actor once he began college. He moved to New York and did theatre but wanted more. However, he didn’t meet the stereotype of a leading man due to his looks, name and speech impediment. He had also been bullied throughout his life, which made him even more self-conscious. This is when he turned to bodybuilding as an outlet and to change his look.

-In 1971, Sly decided to audition for The Godfather, but was turned down…ironically for not looking Italian enough. At the time, he was also homeless, causing him to hit rock bottom.

-Sly decided to go into softcore porn, which could have really tanked his career.

-Arnold overcomes his acting debacle by winning Mr. Olympia FIVE times. He is ready for more, so he gets a publicist, who gets him on television shows, including Merv Griffin and a guest starring role on an I Love Lucy special….personally requested by the lady herself.

-Arnold gets more roles, but one role in a movie called Stay Hungry required him to lose 40 pounds of muscle. He decided to go for it and ended up working with Jeff Bridges and Sally Field. This would lead to another role in Pumping Iron….but it would mean he would have to gain the muscle back and win his sixth title.

-Arnold takes the role and looks to Joe Fraizer and Muhammed Ali for inspiration. He is also going up against Lou Ferringo…the Incredible Hulk.

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-Arnold decides to make himself into the leading man by creating his own character and focusing on beating Lou.

-Sly is still struggling as an actor, so he decided to write his own script and make himself the main character….all thanks to Muhammed Ali’s fight with Chuck Wepner, who was an underdog from New Jersey. He watched the fight and soon came up with the idea of one of the most iconic characters of all time…ROCKY. At the time he had very little money and even needed to sell his dog in order to make ends meet.

-Sly went around to sell the script, but the only deal he got meant that he would not be the star. He turned it down because this was his dream role and his chance to make his dreams come true. After much negotiation, he got the script sold….and the role.

-Sly is now getting into fighting shape for the movie, while Arnold focuses on Pumping Iron. Everything is on the line for both men….with Arnold winning Mr. Olympia for the sixth time and Rocky becoming a surprise blockbuster hit….the biggest hit of 1976 and making over 100 million dollars. It would even win an Oscar for Best Picture.

-Pumping Iron is also a blockbuster hit, much to the surprise of critics. Arnold also becomes a household name and sets the standard for physical fitness everywhere. He is also typecast in the bodybuilding role, making it hard for him to land roles in Hollywood.

-Arnold gets the role of Conan the Barbarian, which led to him getting a call from James Cameron. He was talking about his military past and offered him the role as The Terminator. Arnold is unsure at first, but he decides to go for it and it became the turning point in his career and in Hollywood itself.

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-Both Arnold and Sly would go on to become icons in their own rights, with Sly not only acting, but also becoming one of the biggest Hollywood writers to boot. They changed the path of Hollywood….walking so our current movie superheroes could run.


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