Year
2003

“The Terminator” becomes “The Governator” of California

On this day in 2003, the actor and former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger is sworn in as the 38th governor of California at the State Capitol in Sacramento. Schwarzenegger, who became a major Hollywood star in the 1980s with such action movies as Conan the Barbarian and The Terminator, defeated Governor Gray Davis in a special recall election on October 7, 2003. Prior to Schwarzenegger, another famous actor, Ronald Reagan, served as the 33rd governor of California from 1967 to 1975 before going on to become the nation’s 40th president in 1980.

Schwarzenegger was born July 30, 1947, in Austria. He trained as a bodybuilder and at the age of 20 became the youngest person to win the Mr. Universe title. In 1968, Schwarzenegger, dubbed “The Austrian Oak,” came to the United States, speaking little English, and went on to win a dozen more world bodybuilding titles. In 1977, he gained notice when he was featured in the documentary Pumping Iron, about the Mr. Olympia competition. Schwarzenegger’s acting career took off with the 1982 blockbuster Conan the Barbarian, in which he played a sword-wielding hero avenging his parents’ deaths, and its 1984 sequel, Conan the Destroyer. He later became an international star with roles in a long list of action films including The Terminator (1984), in which he plays a cyborg assassin who utters the now-famous line “I’ll be back”; the Oscar-nominated sci-fi thriller Total Recall (1990), co-starring Sharon Stone; Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), which contains the memorable catchphrase “Hasta la vista, baby”; and True Lies (1994), co-starring Jamie Lee Curtis and directed by James Cameron, who also helmed the Terminator films.

In addition to action films, Schwarzenegger also had box-office success with comedies, including Twins (1988),co-starring the diminutive Danny DeVito, and Kindergarten Cop (1990),in which he played a detective who goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher in order to nab a drug dealer. While continuing to make movies into the 2000s–notably including Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)– Schwarzenegger also built a reputation as a savvy businessman and an advocate of physical fitness and after-school programs for children.

In 1986, Schwarzenegger, a committed Republican, married the broadcast journalist Maria Shriver, a niece of President John F. Kennedy and a member of one of America’s most famous Democratic families. In August 2003, Schwarzenegger, who became a U.S. citizen in 1983 and had never served in public office, announced on The Tonight Showwith Jay Leno that he intended to seek the California governorship in the special recall election that year. After winning the election and serving out the remainder of former governor Gray Davis’s term, “The Governator,” as he was dubbed, was re-elected in November 2006 to serve a full term in office.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Verdi’s first opera opens

Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi’s first opera, Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio, debuts in Milan. The premiere was held at La Scala, Italy’s most prestigious theater. Oberto was received favorably, and the next day the composer was commissioned by Bartolomeo Merelli, the impresario ...read more

Suez Canal opens

The Suez Canal, connecting the Mediterranean and the Red seas, is inaugurated in an elaborate ceremony attended by French Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III. In 1854, Ferdinand de Lesseps, the former French consul to Cairo, secured an agreement with the Ottoman governor of ...read more

Elizabethan Age begins

Queen Mary I, the monarch of England and Ireland since 1553, dies and is succeeded by her 25-year-old half-sister, Elizabeth. The two half-sisters, both daughters of King Henry VIII, had a stormy relationship during Mary’s five-year reign. Mary, who was brought up as a Catholic, ...read more

My Lai trial begins

The court-martial of 1st Lt. William Calley begins. Calley, a platoon leader in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade (Light) of the 23rd (Americal) Division, had led his men in a massacre of Vietnamese civilians, including women and children, at My ...read more

The Heidi Bowl

On November 17, 1968, the Oakland Raiders score two touchdowns in nine seconds to beat the New York Jets–and no one sees it, because they’re watching the movie Heidi instead. With just 65 seconds left to play, NBC switched off the game in favor of its previously scheduled ...read more

Nixon insists that he is not a crook

On this day in 1973, in the midst of the Watergate scandal that eventually ended his presidency, President Richard Nixon tells a group of newspaper editors gathered at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, that he is “not a crook.” Nixon made the now-famous declaration during a ...read more

U.S. establishes Fort Buchanan

On this day, the United States buttresses its control over the Gadsden Purchase with the establishment of Fort Buchanan. Named for recently elected President James Buchanan, Fort Buchanan was located on the Sonoita River in present-day southern Arizona. The U.S. acquired the bulk ...read more

Thousands die in massive flood

On this day in 1421, a storm in the North Sea batters the European coastline. Over the next several days, approximately 10,000 people in what is now the Netherlands died in the resulting floods. The lowlands of the Netherlands near the North Sea were densely populated at the ...read more

Washington, D.C., sniper John Muhammad convicted

On this day in 2003, ex-soldier John Muhammad is found guilty of one of a series of sniper shootings that terrorized the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area and dominated national headlines in October 2002. Police charged that Muhammad and his 17-year-old accomplice, Lee Boyd ...read more

A wealthy heiress is murdered by her son

Wealthy socialite Barbara Baekeland is stabbed to death with a kitchen knife by her 25-year-old son, Antony, in her London, England, penthouse. When police arrived at the scene, Antony was calmly placing a telephone order for Chinese food. Antony’s great-grandfather, Leo ...read more

SALT I negotiations begin

Soviet and U.S. negotiators meet in Helsinki to begin the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT). The meeting was the climax of years of discussions between the two nations concerning the means to curb the Cold War arms race. Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency ...read more

Siege of Knoxville, Tennessee, begins

On this day in 1863, Confederate General James Longstreet places the city of Knoxville, Tennessee, under siege. After two weeks and one failed attack, he abandoned the siege and rejoined General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The Knoxville campaign began in November ...read more

“Day One” for DaimlerChrysler on NYSE

On this day in 1998, the brand-new DaimlerChrysler began trading its shares on the New York Stock Exchange. The company had formed five days earlier, when the American Chrysler Corporation merged with the German conglomerate Daimler-Benz AG. As a result of the merger, ...read more

Germans make last stab at Ypres

On November 17, 1914, the German 15th Corps makes a final, desperate attempt to advance against Allied positions in the Ypres Salient, the much-contested region in Flanders, Belgium. After advancing relatively quickly through Belgium and eastern France during the first weeks of ...read more