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05.18.11

Behind Arnold's Deception

Schwarzenegger's womanizing was an open secret. Jacob Bernstein reports that the governor would mock Maria Shriver's weight—and had a possible secret deal with the National Enquirer.

RadarOnline revealed Tuesday night the woman who is allegedly the mother of former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s secret child. The woman worked for Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, for 20 years and reportedly has a son by him. Other reports allege there is a second illegitimate child for Schwarzenegger—now a high-school senior.

The Daily Beast's Jacob Bernstein reports the governor would mock Maria Shriver's weight—and had a possible secret deal with the National Enquirer.

PLUS:
• Jacob Bernstein on why Maria left
Susan Cheever on the larger trend of older couples who separate
Bruce Henderson: Arnold pardoned my son's attacker

If there was anything really shocking about the revelation that Arnold Schwarzenegger had fathered a love child, it's that the revelation was a revelation at all.

Gallery: Stars With Children Out of Wedlock

Schwarzenegger's reputation as a womanizer was well known before the Los Angeles Times broke the news Monday night that he had fathered a child with a household staffer more than a decade ago. Over the years, scores of women had come forward claiming that Schwarzenegger had behaved in a way that was predatory to them. From time to time, rumors of an out-of-wedlock child made their way into print. But no one could really prove the allegations, and his wife Maria Shriver was a beacon of support for her husband.

A member of the Kennedy clan with a respected career in TV broadcasting, she was a classy antidote to his tough-guy-on-steroids image; when he ran for office as a Republican, she helped lend him an air of cross-partisan credibility.

Never mind that Schwarzenegger apparently could be as insensitive to Shriver as he allegedly was to some of the women who accused him of mistreatment. Three Daily Beast sources report that the former action star and governor was known to make fun of his wife's weight. And when he was elected governor and she became very public about how difficult the transition was—leaving her job at NBC to assume the role of first lady of California—he was callous and dismissive, these sources say.

And as The Daily Beast reported Tuesday morning, when Shriver finally became aware in recent weeks of the child he'd fathered with a member of their staff and asked him to leave their home, he refused.

So it was she, not he, who checked into a hotel.

Even Anthony Pellicano, the disgraced private investigator currently serving a 15-year sentence, reportedly worked on Schwarzenegger's behalf for a time, sifting through his clients' own trash to suss out potential enemies.

Rumors of a love child date back to at least 2003, when Schwarzenegger was running for Governor and The Daily Mail reported that he may have fathered a child out of wedlock with a flight attendant who worked on his private jet. (The woman in question denied the story to the Daily Mail.) Around that time, Schwarzenegger's then-agent, Lou Pitt, went golfing one day with a buddy in the entertainment business and told the person that his client may have fathered a child out of wedlock, that Shriver had heard about it, and that it nearly wrecked the marriage, according to a Daily Beast source. Asked about the conversation, Pitt told The Daily Beast Tuesday night, "Can I just say that's not a story I wish to comment upon."

Now the story about a love child has resurfaced, but with a different woman—who worked for Schwarzenegger and Shriver for 20 years. That Schwarzenegger could have kept it a secret from his wife—given the tales of his womanizing—is remarkable, but not impossible. For one, Shriver and Schwarzenegger kept separate bank accounts, according to a source, and thus the husband would have been able to provide to financial support to the child without the wife finding out.

Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger apparently went to great lengths to minimize the damage his sexual behavior could cost his career and his marriage. And, it seems, there was much to hide. A well-placed source who worked with Schwarzenegger during the filming of 1999's End of Days told The Daily Beast that two different women on the film were talked out of filing charges against Schwarzenegger for groping them in a rough manner. Reached Tuesday night, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger declined to comment, saying he wanted to be respectful of the family's request for privacy. A message requesting comment from Shriver's rep wasn't returned.

For many years, Schwarzenegger employed pit-bull attorney Marty Singer—whose legal threats to journalists are the stuff of legend—to stamp out negative stories and discredit women who claimed he'd misbehaved in front of them. Even Anthony Pellicano, the disgraced private investigator currently serving a 15-year sentence for wiretapping, racketeering, and wire fraud, reportedly worked on Schwarzenegger's behalf for a time, sifting through his clients' own trash to suss out potential enemies.

But perhaps the greatest coup came in 2002, shortly before Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy for Governor. That year, David Pecker's American Media, which publishes supermarket tabloids like The National Enquirer and Star, purchased a slew of fitness magazines from Schwarzenegger's mentor Joe Weider in a transaction valued at around $350 million. Soon after, AMI signed up the Terminator himself in a multi-year contract that made him the executive editor of a number of its publications.

AMI got a PR boost from the publicity, and Schwarzenegger got a certain amount of immunity from the company’s tireless attack dogs. As one longtime AMI staffer put it to Los Angeles Magazine in a 2004 article by Ann Louise Bardach, “When Weider was being bought, the edict came down: No more Arnold stories.”

"It is unbelievable that the Enquirer, which was more aggressive than anyone about pursuing those stories, never had anything of substance during the entire time Arnold was governor," a former high-level AMI employee told The Daily Beast Tuesday. "David loved being with Arnold. He would have promised him the moon and I know that it was a relationship he coveted whether there was an implicit agreement or not." (Pecker has said repeatedly that there was no such agreement, and at this point at least, the gloves appear to have come off: Late Tuesday night, one of the company's websites broke the identity of the woman who mothered Schwarzenegger's illegitimate son.)

Still, some reporters did occasionally venture where others dared not tread. In 2001, Premiere Magazine published an extensive article documenting Schwarzenegger's peccadilloes. It was a doozey. Among the most damning anecdotes: that during the shoot of Terminator II: Judgment Day, Arnold came out from his trailer one day, walked up to a woman on the crew and "put his hands inside her blouse … and proceeded to pull her breasts out of her bra."

Another time, the magazine reported, a woman producer on one of the star's films got a visit from her then-husband. Upon being introduced to the man, Schwarzenegger reportedly said, "Is this guy the reason why you didn't come up to my hotel room last night and suck my cock?" Schwarzenegger "declined repeated requests from Premiere to be interviewed for this article," the magazine reported.

As the 2003 election wound towards the home stretch, a slew of those women reemerged, but Shriver stamped out the fire. In a speech to a Republican Women's Group in Orange County, Shriver said, "You can listen to all the negativity, and you can listen to people who have never met Arnold, or who met him for five seconds 30 years ago. Or you can listen to me … I wouldn't be standing here if this man weren't an A-plus human being. I wouldn't be taking my time, I wouldn't have left my job that I love, I wouldn't be doing any of this if I didn't believe in this man." Days later, he won the election in a landslide.

Still, it wasn't all smooth sailing. In a 2005 article in Vanity Fair, Shriver made it perfectly clear she had misgivings about her husband's political career. Referring to his decision to run for office, she said, "I was worried. I did not like politics. I did not like the all-encompassing part of it. I worried about the kids and what it would do to our lives. I was, like, Why?"

But she made it clear what she had liked about him; he wasn't a WASP, or some facsimile of a Kennedy. "Everyone assumed that I was supposed to marry someone like a John Kerry, some preppy that had gone to Harvard or Yale. I didn't want to marry those boys. I did not like them. I had been around them my whole life. I interrupted the story line. I wanted out of that suffocation."

Now her estranged husband is just another overambitious politician disgraced. A man whose infidelity and arrogance are well known.

He doesn’t sound so different from those Kennedys after all.

With reporting by Ann Louise Bardach.

Jacob Bernstein is a senior reporter at The Daily Beast. He has also written for New York magazine, Paper, and The Huffington Post.