Arnold Schwarzenegger can keep a secret – and he kept many from his wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver.
Appearing on “60 Minutes” Sunday to promote his new book, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story, Schwarzenegger – who referred to himself as “an expert in living in denial” – said he hid many things from his wife during their marriage. Of course one of those was his affair with the family housekeeper Mildred Baena, which produced a child and ultimately ended his marriage. During the interview, the 65-year-old actually 'fessed up to cheating on Shriver on multiple occasions and keeping other potentially life-changing secrets from her, including having open heart surgery and deciding to run for governor of California.
“That's the way I handle things,” Schwarzenegger said of keeping secrets. “And it always has worked. But, I mean it does not – it's not the best thing for people around me because I sometimes – some information I just keep to myself.”
Opening up about having heart surgery in 1997, Schwarzenegger recounted telling his doctor that he would be keeping the operation a secret from his then-pregnant wife. “I said, ‘Now here's the plan. … I'm going to have the heart surgery. You do it quietly. No one knows about it,” the “Expendables 2” star said. “We’ll do it at six in the morning, and then four days later I'm outta here and I go down to Mexico. And I'll tell Maria, I'll say, ‘Look I'm down here. Little busy. And I'm on vacation.’ And when I come back I will be tanned. No one will know. He said, ‘Arnold, are you outta your mind? … You're going to have a big scar here on the chest. What do you mean your wife is not going to see the scar?"
Schwarzenegger took a similar approach when it came to running for governor. He said he waited to tell Shriver until just a few days before he made the announcement and she was shaken by the news. “I was thinking that she would say, ‘Wow, that is amazing, welcome to the club. We finally convinced you to be a public servant, just like my entire family,’” said Schwarzenegger. “None of that. So all of a sudden it came to a grinding halt and I had to now deal with the drama.” It was his mother-in-law, Eunice Shriver, who convinced her daughter to support her husband during his run.
Shriver later gave up her career as a TV news journalist, and started campaigning for her husband. She also publicly defended him when he was accused of groping more than a dozen women earlier in his career. When asked if he regretted having her vouch for him – at that point, Schwarzenegger had already secretly impregnated their housekeeper Mildred Baena – the actor said no. “No, she vouched – she says, ‘Look. I know Arnold. He doesn't do those things that you have read. And I am his wife, I know him better than that.’ You know, end of story.”
Schwarzenegger spoke more about Baena, most notably the fact that he and the woman never had a conversation about the obvious fact that Joseph was the actor’s son. He said seven or eight years after their affair, he noticed the boy resembled him and he just started sending Baena money to support the child. “It just appeared to me there was something off, that he started looking like me,” Schwarzenegger said. “So that's when I kind of got it. It was never discussed. … I gave [money] to her and she knew what it was about.”
As we previously reported, during the interview Schwarzenegger also talked about the moment Shriver confronted him about Joseph. The day after he left office in 2011, Shriver asked to meet him with their marriage counselor. “That particular visit that you're talking about was the visit where she then said, ‘Hey, I think that Joseph is your kid. And, am I off here on this or – or not?’” he recalled. “I said, ‘You're absolutely right, and I am sorry.’ It was very painful for her. She was very disappointed.”
That wasn’t her only disappointment. Asked if it was his only affair, Schwarzenegger – who also spoke about a “hot affair” with Brigitte Nielsen – said, “No. I had others. But I mean, ah, but you know, it’s something that’s obviously between Maria and me.”
Although he knows he hurt his wife, Schwarzenegger said he’s not hung up on the failure of his marriage – or anything else. “Dwelling on it, like some people do, you know, years later, say, ‘Oh, yeah, I lost this, and I will never forget that. I'm still suffering.’ No, that's not me,” he said. “I don't suffer over anything that I've lost.”