The double life of Arnold Schwarzenegger
From the mid ’80s to the early ’90s, Arnold Schwarzenegger was easily one of the biggest action stars in the world after successfully turning a career as a bodybuilding champion into box office gold. The muscle-bound actor was a true Cinderella story who worked his way up from a poor, abusive childhood in Austria to become the most famous immigrant in America. But Schwarzenegger wasn’t content with dominating Hollywood. In 2003, he wowed the nation by becoming the governor of California and locking down a second term. And right by Schwarzenegger’s side was his devoted wife Maria Shriver and four children. The Terminator star seemingly had everything, but behind closed doors, he wasn’t the picture-perfect family man. From allegedly harassing women for decades to a bombshell secret that destroyed his marriage, this is the double life of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
He allegedly fondled women on his film sets
In 2001, Premiere published a damaging feature on Schwarzenegger that featured several allegations about the actor’s sexually aggressive behavior towards women who were not his wife. The piece was an unusual occurrence for the actor who often apparently preached family values in public, but it wasn’t a total surprise to Hollywood insiders.
“You don’t get it,” a producer who worked with Schwarzenegger told Premiere. “That’s the way Arnold always behaves. For some reason, [this time] the studio or the publicists couldn’t put enough pressure on the women to kill the story.”
But as Premiere dug into the story, they uncovered lurid tales of the Schwarzenegger’s alleged behavior, which ranged from flagrantly cheating on Shriver to groping women at will including his Terminator 2 co-star Linda Hamilton.
Naturally, Schwarzenegger’s lawyer and representatives denied the allegations, which have never been corroborated outside of vague apologies for behavior in his past, but he was forced to reach a legal settlement that didn’t look good for the Conan star.
The Anna Richardson settlement
During Schwarzenegger’s run for California governor in 2003, BBC reporter Anna Richardson recounted her ordeal to The Los Angeles Times in an expose on six women the actor allegedly groped and “humiliated” over the course of three decades. According to Richardson, she had interviewed Schwarzenegger before, and he was always a “perfect gentleman.” But this time, something was different.
“He kept looking at my breasts, kept asking if I worked out,” Richardson said. “I went to shake his hand and he grabbed me onto his knee and he said, ‘Before you go, I want to know if your breasts are real.”
At that point, Richardson said she looked around the room for help, but nobody did anything, and that’s when Schwarzenegger allegedly touched her breast. However, when reached for comment, Schwarzenegger’s publicist claimed that Richardson cupped her breasts and asked the actor “What do you think of these?” before having to be escorted out after sitting on his lap. The publicist also claimed that the British reporter “concocted her story.”
Richardson was not having it.
In 2006, the BBC reported that Richardson reached a settlement after suing Schwarzenegger and his publicist for libel over their claims in The L.A. Times. While no details were released, Schwarzenegger’s team was unsuccessful in getting the case thrown out of court, which led to the settlement. However, Richardson’s story was only one of 15women the media eventually uncovered. And the other allegations were pretty bad.
15 women accused him of sexual assault while running for governor
On top of Richardson’s accusations, The Los Angeles Times spoke to five other women who all had shocking tales of Schwarzenegger’s alleged behavior. “Three of the women described their surprise and discomfort when Schwarzenegger grabbed their breasts,” The Times wrote. “A fourth said he reached under her skirt and gripped her buttocks. A fifth woman said Schwarzenegger groped her and tried to remove her bathing suit in a hotel elevator. A sixth said Schwarzenegger pulled her onto his lap and asked whether a certain sexual act had ever been performed on her.”
Schwarzenegger’s campaign spokesman denied all of the claims by saying the actor has “not engaged in improper conduct toward women.” He blamed the allegations on the race for governor, and accused Schwarzenegger’s opponents of coaxing women to come forward. The Times denied receiving leads from the actor’s rivals, and said the paper approached all six of the women after finding them through their own investigation.
However, within a week of the election, a total of 15 women came forward accusing Schwarzenegger of inappropriate and non-consensual sexual conduct, according to CBS News. But even as his opponents started latching onto the allegations, Schwarzenegger still continued to lead in the polls. In fact, residents didn’t even seem to care.
Eventually, the True Lies star offered an apology that could arguably be viewed as an admission of guilt even if it grossly blamed his alleged victims.
He kind of apologized for maybe groping women
In an interview with ABC News, Schwarzenegger finally addressed “Gropegate,” the media name for the growing scandal. The actor was encouraged that “people were not buying into it,” but Peter Jennings pressed him on the issue, which prompted Schwarzenegger to offer a vague apology.
“It doesn’t make any sense to go through details here with you,” Schwarzenegger said. “What is important is that I cannot remember what was happening 20 years ago and 15 years ago. But, some of the things sound like me. And this is why I was the first one to come out and say that some of the things could have happened. And I want to apologize to the people if I offended anyone because that was not my intention.”
Jennings asked Schwarzenegger if he thought that was enough, and things quickly went south.
“Let me tell you something,” the Kindergarten Cop star said. “No one ever came to me in my life and said to me when I did anything, ‘I don’t want you to do that, and you went over the line.’ Now all of the sudden isn’t it odd that three days and four days before the campaign, all of sudden all these women want to have an apology. Isn’t it odd?”
When Jennings asked if he’s blaming the women, Schwarzenegger responded, “You have common sense, Peter. You can figure this out for yourself. Come on now.”
Awkward. And Schwarzenegger wasn’t telling the whole story.
American Media was allegedly squashing stories for him
As Premiere and Schwarzenegger’s accusers all noted, the True Lies star was allegedly protected by powerful publicists and studio heads that created an environment where his celebrity status let Schwarzenegger essentially do whatever he wanted. Speaking out could cost people their jobs, and The L.A. Times lost over 10,000 readers and was flooded by “vicious emails” for its reporting, according to former Times reporter Tracy Weber.
But in 2005, the Times uncovered an alleged deal between the actor and American Media Inc., which owned The National Enquirer along with several fitness magazines. Reportedly, Schwarzenegger agreed to become executive editor for two of AMI’s publications, which would be a huge draw to readers and advertisers. In return, AMI allegedly went to work doling out hush money to protect Schwarzenegger’s campaign. According to the Times, one of his alleged mistresses Gigi Goyette was paid $20,000 to only talk to AMI about her supposed relationship with the actor for a book about her life.
There was just one small problem. AMI never published Goyette’s book, which bilked her out of a larger payday along with the fame of writing a tell-all about her alleged seven-year affair with one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. Plus, the Times learned about the AMI deal, which was way shadier than just a run-of-the-mill affair.
But Schwarzenegger’s most explosive scandal was still to come.
He had an illegitimate son with the maid
In May 2011, not long after leaving office, Schwarzenegger and Shriver announced they were separating after 25 years of marriage. Which was big news, but not surprising in the realm of celebrity marriages. And then the bomb dropped.
A little over two weeks after announcing their separation, Schwarzenegger admitted that he fathered an illegitimate son with someone in his household staff before running for governor, according to The L.A. Times. While the details were scarce at first, The Washington Post quoted several political experts who were astounded that this story stayed hidden for so long — especially given the scrutiny over Gropegate. And they didn’t even know the half of it!
The boy’s mother was revealed as the family’s housekeeper Mildred Baena, and here’s where things get really messed up. Schwarzenegger impregnated Baena with Joseph around the same time he impregnated Shriver with their fourth son Christopher. The two women literally gave birth within days of each other, and the boys played together as children while having no idea that they were brothers. But the situation became untenable when Joseph became a dead ringer for Schwarzenegger. “I realized there was little doubt that he was my son,” he later told ABC News.
According to Baena, Shriver asked if Arnold was Joseph’s father and graciously hugged the housekeeper when she confessed. Shriver then confronted Arnold during a therapy suggestion, and he also confessed. At that point, the marriage was over, and the floodgates were open.
Jane Seymour accused of him having more love children
Mere days after the bombshell news about the love child hit, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman star Jane Seymour made a random and unexpected cameo in the Schwarzenegger scandal by accusing the actor of having at least two other love children.
“I was not even remotely surprised,” Seymour told CNN. “The moment I heard it, that there was an announcement of their separation—he was obviously jumping the gun before everyone else told the world of the news.… From what I gather, I think there will be lots of information coming people’s way. I heard about two more [out of wedlock kids] somebody else knows about. I even met someone who knows him well.”
“I do not know anything about any love children,” Seymour said. “Anything I said was stupidly listening to some stuff in the media that day, I don’t even know where I heard it. And I didn’t know anything about anything. And unfortunately the way it all got put together is all embarrassing,”
Seymour also apologized to Shriver and her family, but the former Bond actress was right about one thing. Lots of information was coming people’s way.
Shriver allegedly hired a detective to find more illegitimate children
Even during Schwarzenegger’s campaign, rumors were already swirling that the actor had allegedly fathered illegitimate children, but nothing substantial ever materialized. But now that a love child was confirmed, Shriver allegedly hired a private investigator to find out once and for all if the Terminator star had more secret children waiting to come out of the woodwork.
“Maria needs and wants to know exactly what she is dealing with,” a source told Radar. “The investigator will likely look into the claims that he fathered multiple children, outside their marriage. Maria has heard the rumors and she wants to find out one way or another, if those claims are true.”
In Schwarzenegger’s defense, there have been no confirmed reports of him having more children outside of his marriage. However, it should be noted that it took 14 years before anyone found out about Joseph, so who knows how many Mini Arnolds are out there? Also, it was becoming more and more evident that the Governator wasn’t the most faithful husband from the start.
Brigitte Nielsen revealed Arnold cheated with her in the 80s
Less than a month after the love child news hit, Schwarzenegger’s Red Sonja co-star Brigitte Nielsen revealed to the Daily Mail that the two had an affair in 1985 while he was in a relationship with Shriver. (They married a year later in 1986.)
“How serious it was with her, I don’t know,” Nielsen said. “He never spoke about her — and the way he was living his life with me, I felt I was the only one. Then I realised about him and Maria and, wow, I felt cheated. Maybe I wouldn’t have got into it if he said ‘I’m going to marry Maria and this is dead serious,’ but he didn’t, and our affair carried on.”
Nielsen also felt sorry for Shriver after being told about rumors that Schwarzenegger allegedly had more illegitimate children, which shocked the actress.
“There’s more?” she said. “It breaks my heart because he and Maria have four kids and you don’t just have a baby with someone else. I’m surprised Arnold thought he could get away with it and I feel bad for Maria.” And then Nielsen offered this ominous quip. “One day I will write another book about what I know. There is so much that I’m not allowed to talk about.”
Unlike most of the allegations against him, Schwarzenegger surprisingly confirmed having an affair with Nielsen, which makes us wonder what secrets she knows. But she wasn’t the only woman to come forward with tales of being Arnold’s mistress.
His mistresses accused of him having more mistresses
Remember Gigi Goyette? The alleged mistress who was reportedly paid by American Media to keep her story quiet during Schwarzenegger’s campaign for governor, according to The L.A. Times? Well, she was actually the first to strike following the news of Schwarzenegger and Shriver’s split. In fact, she spoke to the Daily Mirror before news of the love child even broke. In Goyette’s defense, she was being accused of ruining Schwarzenegger’s marriage and wanted to set the record straight.
“I don’t think I had anything to do with the break-up of his marriage,” Goyette said. “There were so many other women. About 13 have come out of the woodwork.”
While Schwarzenegger denies having an affair with Goyette, she says the two met when she was a young actress on Little House on The Prairie in 1975, and then reconnected in 1989, three years after he married Shriver, which is when the two began having an alleged fling. Goyette even claims to have spoken to him the day his marriage ended. “He was lovely. He asked me how I was doing. We had a really nice conversation. It felt like old times.”
Again, Goyette’s claims have been denied by Schwarzenegger, but a year later, The Expendables star finally came clean about his infidelities. Kind of.
He admitted to multiple affairs
A year after the love child story broke, Schwarzenegger sat down with 60 Minutes (via CNN) and admitted that he dealt with “multiple affairs” by denying to Shriver and himself that they happened.
“That’s the way I handled things, and it always has worked,” the actor said. “But it’s not the best thing for people around me.”
However, while Schwarzenegger admitted to having several affairs, he was vague on details and only confirmed two. The already known tryst with the housekeeper, and his affair with Nielsen nearly 30 years ago. That was it. Outside of his apology during the campaign where he only admitted to sometimes being “rowdy” and “behaved badly” but in a “playful way” on movie sets, according to The Guardian, Schwarzenegger was noticeably mum on the rest of the scandals that have plagued him since Premiere got the ball rolling with sordid tales of his alleged habit for groping women without their consent.
As for whether Schwarzenegger will ever open up about his alleged misdeeds, we wouldn’t bet on it. In a 2017 interview with Men’s Journal, the actor briefly regretted his affair with the housekeeper, but then quickly changed the subject after saying he tries not to beat himself up over it. That doesn’t suggest a mea culpa anytime soon.