LOS ANGELES -- He's one of the most famous people on the planet, a two-term governor of California, a movie star and a former world champion bodybuilder with a profile so huge that just one name, Arnold, instantly identifies him to almost everyone.
Yet somehow, for more than a decade Arnold Schwarzenegger managed to keep a secret from the public and his wife, former prominent TV journalist and Kennedy heiress Maria Shriver: that he fathered a child with a woman on his household staff more than a decade ago.
The revelation came yesterday, just a week after Schwarzenegger and Shriver announced they had separated.
"I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family," Schwarzenegger wrote in a statement. "There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry."
Hours later, Shriver also released a statement: "This is a painful and heartbreaking time. As a mother, my concern is for the children. I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal. I will have no further comment."
Two of their four children posted on Twitter, expressing their love for their family. Katherine Schwarzenegger, 21, wrote: "This is definitely not easy but I appreciate your love and support as I begin to heal and move forward in life. I will always love my family!"
Schwarzenegger and Shriver jointly announced May 9 that they were splitting up after 25 years of marriage. She moved out of the family's Brentwood mansion after Schwarzenegger acknowledged the child is his, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday.
Schwarzenegger said the child was born "over a decade ago" -- before he began his seven-year stint as governor. The Times did not publish the ex-staffer or child's names but said she worked for the family for 20 years, retiring in January.
Schwarzenegger issued his statement to the Times late Monday, after the newspaper interviewed the former staffer. The Times reported that she originally said another man -- her husband at the time -- was the child's father. When the newspaper informed her of the governor's statement, she declined to comment further.
What's most stunning about the revelation is how long he managed to keep his family and the public in the dark, prominent Los Angeles divorce attorney Steve Mindel said, adding that Schwarzenegger may have been able to conceal signs, such as child support, because of his wealth.
"Clearly, Arnold has done a spectacular job of keeping it secret," he said.
Schwarzenegger, 63, has been dogged for years by allegations of womanizing. They almost derailed his move to politics in 2003 when he was elected to replace recalled Gov. Gray Davis.
Days before the election, the Times reported accusations from numerous women that the handsome, muscular star of the "Terminator" films and seven-time Mr. Olympia had groped them on movie sets.