Steve Reeves preceded Schwarzenegger as an action hero. Reeves was the highest paid actor in Europe at the height of his career. Actually, he could have been a much greater star than he was considering he turned down the role of James Bond in Dr. No because of the low salary the producers offered. Not only that, he turned down the role that eventually went to Clint Eastwood in Fistful of Dollars because he believed, at least at the time, that Italians couldn’t make good westerns. Ironic, because he later accepted a starring role in the Italian western A Long Ride From Hell in 1968 and previously had great success in Italian movies like Hercules. Reeves actually co-wrote A Long Ride From Hell, initially entitled I Live For Your Death!, which was based on the novel Judas Gun by Gordon D. Shirreffs.
Both Reeves and Schwarzenegger played Hercules and were in westerns as well. Schwarzenegger played Hercules in the comedic Hercules in New York, 1970, and was in the 1979 western comedy The Villain with Kirk Douglas and Anne Margret. Both were also up for the role of Doc Savage, at different times and in different productions, but neither ended up playing The Man of Bronze.