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Arnold Schwarzenegger in Malibu, California, 1988, photographed by Annie Leibovitz

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Malibu, California, 1988, photographed for Vanity Fair by Annie Leibovitz

The portraits of Arnold Schwarzenegger by Annie Leibowitz represent a long collaboration. The two first worked together in 1975, when Arnold was competing in the Mr. Olympia body-bulding contest in South Africa. Arnold was 28 then and had already won the contest five times. It was this Mr. Olympia competition that formed the basis for the film “Pumping Iron” that introduced Arnold to the world.

In her memoir*, Leibovitz recalls a photo session that took place in Arnold’s hotel room during the Mr. Olympia competition.

“Arnold was walking around naked that morning. Like most models or athletes who love their bodies, Arnold didn’t mind being naked….”

Arnold had big dreams for himself. Leibovitz heard Arnold say to the “Pumping Iron” filmmakers:

“‘I got the feeling that I was meant to be more than just an average guy running around, that I was chosen to do something special. I was always dreaming about very powerful people, dictators and things like that. Or some savior, like Jesus.’

Ten years later he was the Terminator. I shot him for the Vanity Fair Hall of Fame in 1988 [image shown here]. We were shooting on the beach and he said he had a horse, and I said well, bring it along, not thinking much about it. I couldn’t believe it when the horse showed up. It looked like Arnold. Arnold’s thigh in those white pants looks like the horse’s thigh.” 

*Leibovitz, Annie. Annie Leibovitz at Work. New York: Random House, Inc., 2008.

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