Addicted To Arnold:
Barbara Outland Baker Discusses Her Six-Year Odyssey With The Oak
When 19-year-old Barbara Outland was approached, and asked out, by a massive young Austrian at the San Diego delicatessen she was hostess at, she could not in her wildest dreams have known the impact this man with "the creepy muscles" would have on her.
"You are so sexy; I want to ask you out on a date," said a typically forward Arnold Schwarzenegger, a current Mr. Universe and a future king of bodybuilding, a man for whom the opposite sex provided the sexual nourishment he constantly sought. Barbara accepted. "I knew I would have a wild ride with him," she would later say.
July 1969 marked Arnold and Barbara's first meeting at the delicatessen. A straight-laced conservative, an intellectual known for her sophistication and old-world values, Barbara was an unlikely match for the huge Austrian, a man widely described at the time as a charming lady killer whose life revolved around the pursuit of building massive muscles.
Their six year relationship proved to be extremely tumultuous and emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and physically fulfilling for both.
Often seen, at the time, as a socially inept vulgarian with few social graces, a dialogue consisting of a few words of broken English oftentimes peppered with expletives, Arnold presented a persona diametrically opposed to that of Barbara. Yet, as their relationship progressed, both saw this union as positive and promising. In many ways they were good for each other.
With Barbara, Arnold had a full-time English teacher and politically and socially aware woman who could help him become successful in many ways, to become aware himself of the social nuances needed to endear himself to the comparatively sophisticated American cultural milieu he had found himself immersed in.
In Arnold, Barbara had the perfect opportunity to experience life to the fullest, to quell her rebellious side and, at the opposite end of the scale, to provide love and support for a man she grew to love.
As a self-professed homebody, Barbara, a virgin when she met Arnold, knew there was something special about him after their first date. "I was attracted to him," says Barbara. "And I had never met anybody even remotely close to him with his personality, intelligence and sense of humor."
Having completely fallen for one another in the early stages of their lengthy relationship, plans of marriage and children were naturally discussed, but for various reasons were never realized.
In Arnold, Barbara felt she had found her soul mate. By all accounts, Arnold felt the same way. But their relationship, perhaps ill fated from the start, eventually dissolved (was terminated even?). One thing is for sure: nobody quite knew Arnold like Barbara did.
So exactly how did Arnold view life during his early years, prior to breaking into the acting business? What was he really like personality-wise during this period? What were the real circumstances surrounding his refusal to attend his father's funeral, an aspect of his life that has been speculated on for many years?
Was there another side to this legendary public figure? In the following exclusive interview Barbara shares her insights on Arnold and discusses the relationship that underpinned The Austrian Oak's early years in California.
[ David Robson ] You have a background in teaching English. Do you still teach in this area?
[ Barbara Baker ]
- I just retired a year ago. It was very nice to be retired, but now I have just entered into this new field, which has more to do with physical fitness, helping people who are in pain because of compromised posture.
Through my practice I instruct people on how to establish correct posture and become erect again, and to eliminate their pain. So this is completely different to anything I have ever done and I just love it.
[ DR ] What led to taking up this career? Is it something you had a passing interest in?
[ BB ]
- Not all the way through. I had a back problem back when I was with Arnold - three years into our relationship it surfaced - and ever since then I knew I had a really serious condition that I had to nurture. I tried everything; even having it cared for by
- in his chiropractic practice.
- Over the 35 years I tried all I could but didn't find the right people or the right way to
- . Because without treating the body as a unit and getting the muscles balanced and
- , my posture was just collapsing. So by the time I was ready to retire, I asked myself whether I might be facing a wheelchair.
I finally found this method called Egoscue. Basically it is a whole body therapy that teaches you how to move precisely according to your posture to get your back into shape. So by learning how to get my posture back I decided that I would like to do it for other people. I took the training and am now an affiliate using the training to help others.
[ DR ] Your book on Arnold was different to any other that I have read in its ability to read almost like a novel, with respective people playing their parts and the intense emotions that characterize the main players being brilliantly drawn out. What was your intention with this book?
[ BB ]
- It was such a dramatic story that was like a novel. I wrote it to be a page-turner, to show the movement of this intense relationship.
[ DR ] When did you first meet Arnold Schwarzenegger and what were your initial thoughts concerning him? How much of an unknown was he at that point?
[ BB ]
- In bodybuilding circles he was absolutely known, but in 1969, those were tiny circles. So even in Santa Monica you could get through life without knowing about
- and the bodybuilders, and, if you did, you thought that they were just freaks and crazy guys.
I was working in this delicatessen and I'm just standing there as the hostess seating people, and I remember seating this huge guy that I couldn't put into any category. He certainly wasn't my type and I didn't pay much attention to him. But one day I was sitting at the counter eating lunch and that's when he came up to me and that's when he pulled out his first line to me: "you are so sexy. I want to ask you out on a date." I was like, what, whoever would say this to somebody? And he just had a sort of swagger and it was appealing to me; he was just so different.
- I was in that experimental phase, my last year of
- ; I just wanted to experience life and I knew I would have a wild ride with him, even if it was to go out just one night, on one date with him. So it took us about a week and a half to get that set up, and that first night I really was taken by him.
Until then I thought what have I done? The guy was like a freak. So by the time we went out that night, he was still so unusual that I still liked the idea of being with him.
I was attracted to him and had never met anybody even remotely close to him with his personality, intelligence and sense of humor, and of course being European was a big plus with me because I never had the experience of knowing somebody from another country. That was pretty much it. From then on we saw each other all summer and I became mesmerized by him.
[ DR ] Arnold, as is widely reported, did have that ability to put people under his spell. He possessed the kind of magnetism that was at once influential and persuasive. Did these qualities also draw you to him?
[ BB ]
- Oh yes, and an indefinable ability to captivate you. He was just so unique and I wanted that energy in my life. I wanted his influence in my life. I was like, who is this man.
[ DR ] Arnold also would pull stunts on people and do whatever it took to get what he wanted in life, but by the same token he would also have the ability to pull people back and have them supporting him time and again.
[ BB ]
- Yes, and you are really astute at defining that. There was always that little bit in him that could even be seen as a flaw. I'm sure he has matured with age. It took a long time. He is a jokester - George Clooney is famous for it also - and he would always like to get the best of people.
And it is probably kind of an ego thing where he just wants to make sure you know he is better than you, wiser than you, bigger than you, more everything than you. But because he is so powerful, you don't want to lose your link to that power and you forgive him. When he has hurt your feelings you are really able to forgive him. It's an unusual trait. He could have done without it.
[ DR ] Exactly. He seemed to have all the power in the world, the intelligence and business acumen needed to prevail in almost every circumstance. Arnold didn't need to be pulling stunts on people to get what he wanted, did he? With the advantage of hindsight these tricks may have even gone against him.
[ BB ]
- Yes and what was the reasoning? What did he even get out of it? It was kind of crazy that he would be willing to hurt people's feelings, make them look like fools and tell them to wear Ben-Gay (an analgesic heat rub, which can cause extreme pain if used inappropriately) to hurt their bodies all over the place.
He just wanted to see how stupid they were, that they would believe him. It was just one of those traits of his. Luckily it is, I think, in the past now, now that he has been through the Hollywood scene and into the political scene. He does have a good sense of humor. He teases you. His way of relating to you is to be sarcastic and funny. And he would always put himself into a position of power through that, and even still, but (now) it is not done in the cruel way so much.
[ DR ] But Arnold, it has been said, becomes very serious when the joke is on him. When it is on others he has no problem with that. Was this ever evident to you through your six-year relationship with him?
[ BB ]
- Oh yes, absolutely.
[ DR ] Other than the undoubted magnetism Arnold has and his ability to wield power to his benefit, what other qualities of his were apparent to you? What else about Arnold stood out to you, excuse the pun?
[ BB ]
- (Laughs) He had so many attributes. His zest for life, I think. He just lived on the edge of any experience and he would do anything to experience something brand new: a new culture, new place, anything. Hot air ballooning, shooting bows and arrows or even taking a ballet class, he would run the gamut to experience life.
Nothing would really make him afraid. I referred to this in my book with regard to his role in Stay Hungry. That really was his motto (Stay hungry). He lived it prior to filming that movie. That was just Arnold: he would always want to stay hungry.
Even when I asked him what he was going to do when his ten years as Governor runs out, he said he had so many opportunities that he could pursue, but he would not worry about this until the time came. He said the things he could do when he leaves office are countless.
[ DR ] Through having so many positive qualities, was Arnold able to bring out the best in those around him, you included?
[ BB ]
- I think I have been greatly affected by him. And you never know who you would be without the influence of another in your life. I would wonder this: who would Barbara Outland, now Baker, be, if I'd never met him.
I have to believe, though, that I became different on account of him. Together with someone, when you are at age 21, boy that is a formative time when you are really impacted. Now some of those aspects wounded me because I had turned my power over to him so completely; he was so incredibly strong and capable and confident that I piggybacked off of him, and followed him rather than developing those on my own, for me.
I was developing my life so I could be the best woman to support him. So I had to regroup after we broke up and come back to find myself. But in the meantime I had been imprinted with all of those attributes that he had of success, achieving and goal setting, looking forward and believing in yourself, even if you had no right to - still going forward. I had a strong drive before I met him, but I have to say that I had really strong role modeling on how to make that my own. And I am a little bit usual compared to people you would meet.
After being a professor for over 30 years, you'd think I would just casually go into retirement, but here I am in this new field of posture development. My friends can't believe it. Many of them have not done one career. So immediately, in a year and a half to regroup, turn the corner and become certified in something completely different. How much of that could be attributed to Arnold? I think I can be very grateful to him that he showed me how to not let the moss grow under you.
[ DR ] So, for you, success is all about adopting new challenges as you go, something that epitomized Arnold's psyche?
[ BB ]
- Oh yeah, definitely. I'm 60 this year so I could have 20-30 years of a really good quality of life (in retirement), but I believe that is only going to happen if I continue to keep throwing myself at life and loving it and learning and making my body move, teaching my brain to face new challenges so that it realizes that it can still master new things.
- The more I get into what I'm doing, the more I realize that you have to keep growing every day of your life until you finally die.
[ DR ] And Arnold has this same mentality it seems. He will continue to achieve at a high level for the rest of his days.
[ BB ]
- Yes, they keep saying that they want him to play in the next
- , so he may yet go back to Hollywood. It doesn't seem like it would be anything major though. I can see him doing cameos. It could be global warming. It's just speculation, but he has become a leader in this field, along with ex-VP Al Gore, and this issue could hold his interest.
I don't think he will become senator, he said he's not a career politician. So unless it would be finally getting picked up to serve on Obama's cabinet, I don't know.
He may have damaged himself by telling Obama that he (Obama) had puny legs, I'm not sure. I think that is all done with a cute sense of humor, but does Obama have the sense of humor needed to forgive that. He can see he has skinny legs and he kinds of wants to have skinny legs. He eats like that and he plays basketball to keep really lean.
Arnold probably could overcome what others might be offended by. Obama might end up choosing him to be on his cabinet once he (Arnold) is done as Governor. Anything could happen with Arnold. But I will never be too terribly surprised with what he pulls off next.
[ DR ] It has always impressed me, the fact that Arnold has never really been afraid to say what he feels and to put his opinions out there for others to make of them what they will. Others with as much to lose might be more cautious. Yet he walks away relatively unscathed after saying some of the most outrageous things.
[ BB ]
- I know. I guess we now have the expectation set that he can do that, and he has been doing that his entire life. His father bullied him and his brother bullied him. Then, of course, he learned how to become a bully as soon as he could get out of the family sphere to where he could begin asserting himself and finding his own power. Then it just became part of his personality and now he uses it to be the most powerful person in any room. The bullying has receded and now it falls under that category of funny
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[ DR ] You could make the case that Arnold's drive for success stems from a need to assert himself' to gain control. Not necessarily to gain the trappings of success but to be seen to be major success and to be number one.
[ BB ]
- Yes, that is his driving force. And I think our emotional patterns don't really change much from the first seven years of our life, and his father absolutely shaped him by not giving him what he needed and not building up his self-esteem, but instead tearing it down. He derided both boys (Arnold and his brother Meinhard). But he also pitted both boys against each other.
This is Arnold's emotional pattern. He needs to prove himself all of the time to prove to his father that he is worthy. And he will talk a different game: "Oh if my father were here I would tell him how much I love him". But I think Arnold doesn't study the mind and how it relates to his own psyche, because he doesn't want to change in any way, because he likes the way he operates: it has gotten him everything that he wants.
He really probably doesn't understand his own psyche to know how much he, I think, is still trying to please his own father. Arnold, I think, would go "Ah, that's bullsh!t." It is like okay, you are fine, you have what you want and you don't need to agree with this.
[ DR ] It is interesting because you have people spending half their lives educating themselves on all the nuances of their personality to enhance their ability to interact with the world, and in many cases failing, and here you have Arnold, one of the world's most successful people, saying some of the most bold things and demonstrating conceited sometimes-arrogant behavior and he is the center of attention.
[ BB ]
- What he says seems to hold much weight regardless of what he says and when he says it.
Yes, but at long last I think he has done a lot more good than bad. Even though he is struggling in his role as Governor now because California is doing so poorly - he was saddled with this democratic legislature which won't let him do anything - this must be immeasurably frustrating to him, but he is so positive that he would never admit how frustrated he might be.
- "Oh, I love it, it is wonderful, this is the best time of my life," he is saying. I mean, come on. He is dealing day in and out with constant aggravation and bitterness in not making the movement that he would like, because nobody is letting him; because all the Democrats and Republicans are fighting each other and even fighting Arnold - even his own party (are doing this). So this has got to be a difficult spot for him to be in, to be ineffective.
[ DR ] Maintaining a positive outlook under such circumstances could almost be seen as delusional.
[ BB ]
- Right, exactly. And I think he has been told by Sargent Shriver (Maria Shriver's father, an American Democratic politician and activist) that as a politician - and you see this with Obama - you have to try to put as much of a positive spin on it as you can because you have to inspire the people.
And so I understand he (Arnold) has bought into that political opinion, but it is very hard to be positive in the face of what is going on in California. It is catastrophic. The morale is bad, the financial collapse - it (California) is almost in insolvency now. So he stated the facts, but he is trying to be upbeat with it. And it is a little delusional.
[ DR ] (Laughs) Was there a particular point in your relationship with Arnold where you knew it was serious and you wanted to take it further?
[ BB ]
- We had our (first) two months together during the summer (of 1969) and I was committed to not having a
- prior to marriage, and he couldn't understand that for the life of him. We had a parting of the ways when I went down to do my last year at San Diego State, and he went off to make
- . So we were done, absolutely done.
In my experience, when you had broken up that was it. Low and behold, he called me at San Diego and it was like wow that is interesting, why is he calling me, he knows my position. So when he came home from New York, I went up to Santa Monica. Then gradually we would spend weekends together there and he would actually pay for my airfare to fly me up there.
- I just became very convinced and could feel that this man just absolutely loved me, respected me and cared for me. So we were both kind of willing to bend and, as you know (from reading the book), I gave up my virginity to him, but it was just because I could really see that he had had a complete shift in his perception and he cared. I always cared. But now I could see beyond his words and his actions were really demonstrating this.
[ DR ] At that point in the relationship he didn't have to pursue you, he could have simply moved on and found someone else.
[ BB ]
- Yes. I'm two hours away from him and he doesn't even live near me. He had to go out of his way to do this, so there was something about me that was compelling to him and I got it.
[ DR ] From beginning to end, how would you define the relationship you had with Arnold through its various stages?
[ BB ]
- (Long pause) Well certainly for me it was life transforming. I had a much more interesting life on account of him. While I was in it I would say it was emotionally tumultuous, and I'll take responsibility for that. I stayed in it, but the relationship was really all about him.
I allowed it to be that way and lost myself in the process of it because I adored him so much. You would have to use the word addicted. I was addicted to this man. I could not imagine my life without him.
- When you do that you definitely give up your power. But we had our great times together and we had so much fun. Our conversations were just amazing, as was our playtime. We would have field trips all over that State of California, fun times with my family, or with
- (Columbu - champion bodybuilder and Arnold's then training partner and roommate), who was our steady companion, to Artie Zeller (famous physique photographer), to all of the guys at
- , especially the married couples.
He (Arnold) really gravitated to homeliness; there is a big part of Arnold that really loves the concept of home and family, and all of that gemütlichkeit, the German word for feeling good. So we shared a lot of that. I want to underscore how wonderful our relationship was too. But emotionally it turned out to be very tumultuous because I gave myself away too completely.
[ DR ] You do strike me as being a strong, independent woman, so being around Arnold, who was always the center of attention, must have been a struggle for you at times.
[ BB ]
- I know because I started out so strong. I was the one who was going to
- and had a grasp on the events of the times and had worldliness about me. It was: where did I lose myself?
But I had made a commitment, particularly by giving up my virginity to him and so I was already committed to him and that was kind of the error; I had such an old fashioned belief in that being so important, so when it was done I said that since I was committed I would stay with him, no matter what.
So that belief system kind of messed me up too. I just had it wound up in such an unhealthy way for me and I could not cut my losses. I should have left much sooner, but I couldn't because I had committed myself to him.
[ DR ] Life post-Arnold must have proven a difficult transitional period for you.
[ BB ]
- That is why I put it into a story. I thought, wouldn't it be interesting for people to understand what it was like to go with someone who was such a charismatic, powerful leader, who would impact the world of Hollywood and politics.
- In that man was somebody who is so powerful and I'm there in the formative stages when he is transitioning from bodybuilding into acting. So that's his headiness time where he is so full of life and himself, and optimism and connections and experiences and aliveness and the confidence that was just so appealing to me. Then I've lost myself, but I believe in it and, at the same time, I know that I have to break up with this man.
But the question was: who was I? Then there came the finding of myself - that is one aspect - and then who am I amidst the dating world (post-Arnold) and how do I present myself?
[ DR ] How did people conceive of your relationship with Arnold after the two of you broke up for the last time and what implications did this have for you?
[ BB ]
- He was there when the whole bodybuilding scene was kicking off, and he helped
- become established. Then everybody wanted to begin building their muscles. It was too weird. So guys would either judge you in terms of how could you have been with such a weirdo versus I am intimidated and I'm not going to touch you for anything and I'm not going to be compared to that guy. So everybody was kind of treating me like a leper.
- There was some degree of rejection - and certainly from my end: I wouldn't like some of the guys I would meet - so it just made for a really radical dating life and struggle to find somebody to get married to. Because I still wanted to get married. That is always what I wanted with Arnold - to get married and have kids. So then I made really stupid decisions that I should not have made. There were three attempts at having a wedding ceremony and every one of them was worse than the next.
[ DR ] Until you finally found somebody: John.
[ BB ]
- Right, John and I have been together for around 17 years now. What a difference it is to have solidarity, comfort and companionship, partnership and friendship. Just having somebody there, all of the time, to bounce ideas off of and have fun with and
It is exactly what I wanted, minus the children. I never had children, which I am fine with. I have nieces and nephews who feel like my children so I have that fulfilment, and I really love having that feeling of family. But you could make a case that I really did not have children because of that relationship with Arnold.
[ DR ] Why is this the case?
[ BB ]
- Well, we broke up when I was 27, so as I'm going on and off in the dating world it's not as if I'm meeting the guy I wanted to marry immediately. I'm starting to get married about 31'ish and that was a bad scene and didn't work out to a pathological liar.
Then there was another period of trying to meet somebody, again with the hope of getting married and having a family, so then I meet this health food salesman who is just weak and ineffectual who was a pushover. We got married and thank God I didn't get pregnant. Then I again married and had a seven-year relationship to an alcoholic who already had two grown kids.
At the time I discovered I had this really bad back condition that would make it difficult for me to support a child. I could also see culture falling down all around me and I did really not like the world, so therefore began asking whether I would want to bring a child into this world.
So all of this converged together to make me see after marrying somebody nine years older than I (current husband, John) that I was probably past my prime for this (having children). At 35 I felt I didn't need to be considering having a child any more. I just gave up the whole idea of wanting to have a child. And this is not a rationalization or anything. I have a lot of love in my life so I am really blessed.
[ DR ] You mentioned earlier that Arnold would take you out and provide for you a lot of positive experiences. What did you do for Arnold when he first came to America? In what ways did you help him to assimilate into the American culture?
[ BB ]
- The real obvious one was that I was an English Major in college and eventually became an English teacher. So it was amazing for him to have the built-in English teacher and he gave me permission, at any point, to correct him, whether it was pronunciation or otherwise - of course I would like to say I had a better student (laughs).
Even with an accent removal teacher in Hollywood, he is still quite German. Although Austrians and Germans would say that he speaks German with an accent, which I find hysterically funny. So being an English teacher was, I bet you, a strong reason why I had appeal for him. I was very grounded in the local culture because my childhood friends, who were still my best friends, lived in the Santa Monica area, so he could see into that life. If a friend married a lawyer or a baker he had those insights.
- He just now had an upper end life that he had not experienced before, that had more refinement to it.
- may have been wealthy, but Joe lacked a sense of cultural refinement, whereas my side could take him into more elegance and sophistication; at least it whetted his appetite for dressing a little more nicely and maybe trying to pay more attention to table manners.
So culturally I think this all helped, and the discussions we would have on local and current music artists. Just having intellectual discussions about movies - and, of course, Arnold loved movies - music and the Vietnam War and whatever was going on at the time. I definitely was a counterpoint for him conversationally.
And then I did happen to be a real domestic homemaker type of person - we lived together about half of the time we were together; I would often be at his apartment when he was with Franco - I would help do the cooking and straighten up his place and improve the decor by suggesting this would look good there and there. Just to make sure his house was more of a home. And my nature is to be really loving, warm and affectionate and I think that was also appealing to him, to have the warmth of my family and to have a hand-holder. So we were very compatible. .
[ DR ] And it is interesting to note that Arnold was receptive to any help he could get and would extend himself to improve. He would accept that others were better than him in some ways and that he could learn from them.
[ BB ]
- Yes, Weider would tell him that he needed a woman. He would say, "Barbara is so good for you." Joe thought Arnold had a mother's complex that he needed to compensate for; this ideal mother that he wanted. I think in some ways I was that mother.
[ DR ] And Joe Weider, as far as you could tell, was very influential in Arnold's life early on?
[ BB ]
- Yes, very much so. Arnold had a lot of surrogates: father figures as well as mother figures, including
- and Mareon Park, and Mits and Dot Kawashima from Oahu.
[ DR ] One might say that all of these influences have converged to make Arnold the man he is today.
[ BB ]
- Yes, and where he was smart was in choosing the influences and then fostering those as friendships. He is very loyal. Dot Kawashima passed away this Spring at around age 82, but he made it over there for the funeral. He flew a lot of people over there and made sure her children were okay and that Mits (Dots husband) was doing well. So he is very good to people that he loves.
[ DR ] That trait does strongly emerge when Arnold is interviewed. He does make mention of those who have helped him and of the fact that bodybuilding gave him his foundation in life. How would you describe Arnold, the bodybuilder?
[ BB ]
- I would say that that was how he perceived he would make his mark in America and he decided to be the best. So what he ate, breathed and slept was bodybuilding. Everything was bodybuilding. Even in the off months (off-season) he wouldn't let himself go too badly because he still had to eat well and take care of himself' all year long.
[ DR ] Did Arnold train a lot?
[ BB ]
- Yes he did. He did the
- I would say about four or five months out of the year. He would give himself appropriate
- as he needed it, but he was definitely a major committed gym goer, probably more so than most of the guys.
[ DR ] So Arnold would watch his shape year round.
[ BB ]
- Yes, when he came to America people would say to him, "You are fat." He was like, "Fat, what are you talking about?" So he never really had the concept that the thick skin on his belly was something that was fat. He learned his lessons well with that, so I think he would try to get lean enough - he would need to develop muscle bulk also - but he didn't want to put on fat weight. But he would eat his apple strudel. He wasn't obsessed.
[ DR ] When Arnold wanted to get in shape he could do this, but when it came time to relax he was able to do this also.
[ BB ]
- He really could. He wasn't at all a big drinker, but he would have a
- , and of course his body was so toned that that is all it took for him to get a little tipsy and laugh and joke. He was always the life of the party.
[ DR ] I understand Arnold would be the leader in whatever situation he found himself.
[ BB ]
- Yes, and the guys would always tease him and call him mother because he was always the leader and telling everybody what to do. And that was fine with him.
[ DR ] Arnold also once said that the word modesty did not apply to him in any way.
[ BB ]
- Yes, he is very immodest (laughs). But he is just so self-assured. And it is annoying and irritating because it is like, how could anybody be what is seen to be that conceited? But, gosh, if he didn't have the package that he did he wouldn't be where he is. And he is exactly where he wants to be.
Even if this condition is frustrating and annoying the power of it is amazing. He and Obama, I bet, could really relate to one another. I wouldn't be surprised if they could somehow form a relationship of some sort. Their story is so similar.
There is just no way they could have made it, just no way. There is no way you could believe, just coming from such strange and underprivileged circumstances in a way, that by virtue of your own self you could become such a success.
[ DR ] And that itself' would endear you to others: coming from such a background and succeeding despite the odds.
[ BB ]
- Even me, I sensed it, but never would have known that he (Arnold) would become as successful as he did. But I definitely sensed that I wanted that strength for my own. You wanted to piggyback off him as much as you could. It is like, okay, if I can be close to you I can have some of that.
[ DR ] When was the last time you met Arnold?
[ BB ]
- The first inauguration was one of the last times; we didn't go to the second inauguration because he broke his leg and I knew that that would be difficult for him. And it was, he hardly showed up at that one. Another time was the book interview for all of those passages that open the chapters.
But the last time (I met Arnold) was at Dot Kawashima's 80th birthday party. So I would say it was Christmas two years ago. I think from now on there will be no compelling reason that will bring us together, but the book really brought us together, it being a joint project. It's not like I am in his circles. I'm living in Texas, and I'm not in the political game.
We would be friendly if we were to have a connection, and I'm sure I could feel free to call him any time. And who knows, at any second I could pick up the phone and it could be him. But it is just as easily possible that we will never speak again.
[ DR ] As you mentioned before, throughout your relationship with Arnold there were tumultuous times with many ups and downs. What were some of the major difficulties you experienced during this relationship and how did you overcome them?
[ BB ]
- I would say how to deal with the traits of our relationship that I didn't like. Yes I loved his power and his confidence, but I didn't love how much of a second place that put me in. So I didn't know how to deal with my own time to find my little sphere of power.
I really struggled with his mean side, which we have discussed already. It was like, how could you hurt people knowingly, how could you hurt their feelings? How could I be with this man who has a mean side to him?
Of course he was young and that was one phase of his life, a time where men hang out with their buddies too much. I think they just swear more and pull off their pranks. But I was a girl and I really struggled with the fact they he did these things to people. So it was more my weaknesses against his strengths.
[ DR ] You were quoted as saying you were most upset over the little empathy Arnold showed after his father had died. As you are probably aware, there are many conflicting reports over exactly what happened at this time and what Arnold said and did concerning this event. Since you were with Arnold not long after his father had passed away, can you give your side of the story here?
[ BB ]
- Well the way I see it is Arnold had a pretty dismal relationship with his father his whole life, and when he moved away from Austria - you are not going to miss someone who has been cruel to you, who has beat you, who has drunk too much in your presence, who has said mean and cruel things and has pitted you against your brother, who has not treated your mother nicely.
I did not meet Gustav (Arnold's father) and I'm sure he had his strengths. I think his (Arnold's) mother (Aurelia) really did genuinely care for her husband - I'm not sure if it was by habit - it is hard to tell that when you don't even have your own 25-year-old perception of seeing it unfold. I didn't get to do that, but from what I could get from Arnold there was only negativity towards his father. And his mother just sort of took the fallout. He (Arnold) was unlikely to visit her because that would mean having to visit his father.
So you understand that the relationship (between Arnold and his father) was not a loving one anyway. So why would you really care about learning that your father has died, because you really don't care about him anyway. He had a little bit of empathy for his mother who had already lost her first-born son (Meinhard) but she did have the girlfriend Erika of Meinhard's and the grandson (Patrick). And she does have some other relatives in the village of Thal in Austria so she does have some support.
That was why I was upset: that he (Arnold) wasn't going to support her. Forget the father. It was like: your mother could use your support. Arnold had come home from a posing exhibition in Australia and had completely torn the ligaments in the cartilage of his knee, so on top of everything else the timing was such that he was about to face surgery. It would have been a hard thing to execute, to do the plane travel and all that was necessary to function on a knee that was really not supporting itself well. The combination of the imminent surgery and the lack of a close relationship with his father in the first place, I think, made the decision pretty easy for Arnold. It was like, "I'm just not going".
[ DR ] Yet Arnold came out in the movie Pumping Iron and relayed the story about his choice to train for a contest over attending his father's funeral. Surely Arnold - even if the story were invented for the purposes of the movie, as he had claimed - would not have been naïve enough to say such a thing.
[ BB ]
- We all kind of re-write history for our own sake, but in the Pumping Iron days he (Arnold) was so full of himself - that was at the height of his conceit. I don't know if anyone talked him into anything. There was the
- (the 25th anniversary special) and he told another story.
All I know is what I witnessed at the time and the Pumping Iron that came out on the screen showed part of the way Arnold was in those times. And he wasn't training for a contest (as stated in Pumping Iron), because it was December, and that just didn't happen at that time of year.
So at least as I perceive it and recall it - and we even broke up over it - it was like you beast, how could you do this and not tell me? Because we had dinner after he had come home from Austria and he had learned his father had died but he didn't tell me until the end of our dinner that I had cooked for him. I told him that we had been together for three years and he had waited this time to tell me his father had died.
Obviously there was pain there, there was discomfort, and there was weirdness, surrealism. It was like (from Arnold's perspective) I can't even go there, how do I address this? I don't even know myself well enough to know how to handle the fact that my father had died.
I think he was just so emotionally immature at that point, he just didn't know what to do and it was just very convenient having the knee (surgery) - yes he was still going to the gym, but I wouldn't call that training for a contest. And he definitely faced surgery about a week or two after his father had been buried.
[ DR ] Arnold's way of dealing with his father's death was, to en extent, suppress it?
[ BB ]
- Yes, exactly. And after this time it took another two months or so before we moved in together and got our own separate private place and he stopped living with
- and started living with me. His mother came the following Christmas. So that was the formation time when he started developing what was to become a very close relationship with his mother, around 1974.
[ DR ] On Pumping Iron Arnold presented the aura of one who was - in direct contrast to most of his fellow bodybuilders - completely relaxed and in control. Was this the Arnold you knew?
[ BB ]
- Yes that was the way he always was - always in a good mood. The guy was not anything other than just in friendly genial spirits all of the time. He was not down. He did not have a side behind closed doors that was different. He really had a nice sense of peace and happiness about him. Always focused though. It was always about making it in America, but he knew how to laugh and how to live in the moment of now, I think innately.
- Most of us try to spend our lives learning how to live in the moment of now, but he could just do it. When he was with
- fighting about some contract point - if Arnold wanted some more money from Joe - you would think that those guys would never speak to each other again. And five minutes later they have shifted gears and are laughing, telling jokes about some other bodybuilders.
So he just treated each moment of now the way he it needed to be lived, to get him to have what he wanted, which was to have him be the best at everything and to be perceived by everybody as being the best.
[ DR ] Did Arnold spend much time with his bodybuilding friends?
[ BB ]
- Yes, because his life was mostly about bodybuilding. We used to get into arguments about why we weren't spending more time with my friends. And he would say, "What do I care about your friends, they are not going to get me to where I need to get." So the focus was solely on his career and how he was going to keep pushing himself up the ladder.
It was much more comfortable for him to be around bodybuilders who could talk muscle and striations, the latest in tanning techniques, whether you should shave or not shave. Just teasing other guys in their presence. And a lot of bodybuilding and muscle talk.
[ DR ] Arnold was probably unique in that he could stand back and see how crazy the sport of bodybuilding could be. He did not take the whole thing so seriously and maintained a healthy sense of perspective.
[ BB ]
- That's right. He could live in a sort of duality. He would be, this is my vehicle, it is an independent sport, I can do it in Austria and can get independently acknowledged, it is not a group sport like in
He felt it was the one way he could be somebody and that since it had come to his attention he would be the best at it. He would be like Reg Park and go into acting. I mean, the gap in his tooth and his name. He didn't even think about his accent or any of these things standing in his way.
And he didn't talk to me really very much at all about acting. It was all about Steve Reeves and Reg Park did this. And he (Arnold) did make that hideous movie Hercules in New York around the time I had met him, but even that did not take him away from having that in the back of his mind, that he still wanted to get into movies.
Who could think that he would have the nerve to think that? I think he even thought that if he talked to Barbara about that she is going to think I'm absolutely crazy.
[ DR ] I know throughout his career Arnold did not have a lot of practice in this area but to your knowledge how did he deal with defeat, especially some of his earlier bodybuilding losses?
[ BB ]
- His attitude was that you move on. But I wasn't there at the time he was beaten by
- , because I didn't even know him then. The reports seemed to say he was just stunned. With Frank, and probably
- too, it made him work harder. You just have to accept it and go forward.
I also think he learned that judging is subjective so you really need to appeal subjectively to the judges so that they like you. I think that he just worked on the personality traits with anybody whether it was Dr. Michael Walczak, a medical doctor from Southern California who judged bodybuilding contests, who knew all about nutrition in a way people in the '70s didn't know.
Arnold just endeared himself to anybody who had the potential to be a judge. And I think that was another thing. He learned how to manipulate people by choosing the right person. If someone has a choice they will often choose who they like best. It would be if there were Arnold and another guy, I would vote for Arnold.
[ DR ] As we touched on earlier, bodybuilding in the '70s was perceived as being a freak sport, probably more so than today. Arnold was able to separate himself from that perception and find a specific niche for himself.
[ BB ]
- Yes, and I think he was the only one really. Nobody else was like him.
- was the more intellectual, philosophical type so he stood out by being well rounded with an intelligence that you didn't see too frequently.
[ DR ] Was Arnold in any way mocking of bodybuilding, as far as you could tell? And did he begin to distance himself more from the sport as the '80s approached?
[ BB ]
- I really don't recall Arnold making fun of his own sport. It would not be a theme that represents him to my recollection. - Maybe years later in the late '70s and '80s, looking back at that point. Because, I think, once he gravitated into the world of Maria (Arnold's wife, Maria Shriver). Of course she couldn't share in that world as it was so removed from her. Maria was not really going to relate to bodybuilding, not with her background. And she wasn't even around, as young as I was, where she could foster relationships with these guys. So maybe she mocked it and maybe he developed a different point of view about it. I really don't know.
[ DR ] How would you summarize the impact Arnold has had on your life?
[ BB ]
- I would say in an overall sense if I go through my early emotional, mental, physical and spiritual maturation I am exceedingly grateful for the influence he has had. Whether it has been a negative motivation or a positive motivation his power has certainly made a difference in how I have turned out, and I'm really happy with how I've turned out.
[ DR ] And what are some of the enduring memories you have of your time with Arnold?
[ BB ]
- If I go back as recently as his first inauguration, what a joy to be, number one, surrounded by people at the reunion like the John Balik's (Ironman Magazine publisher) and some of the older bodybuilders like
- , it was just so neat to go back and be in touch with all of them. That was about five years ago now.
I think it is just a feeling I have about us that endures. It is like I got to be a part of something that was really huge and I am so grateful for that magnitude of energy that I got to witness, be part of and influenced by, and to influence it. It is just a profound experience to be such a rich part of somebody who turned out to be one of the most unusual people ever to have lived.
For more on Barbara and Arnold's relationship visit Barbara's website: www.arnoldandme.com
For the book Arnold and Me: www.amazon.com