There are very few people who haven’t heard of Arnold Schwarzenegger. As one of the most famous bodybuilders, actors, and most recently, politicians in the world, Schwarzenegger has spent his life building his career in the entertainment and political industries.
In addition to all of these accomplishments, Schwarzenegger has another title—dad. He married journalist Maria Shriver in 1986, and they had their daughter, Katherine, in 1989. The couple went on to have three more children together—Christina, Patrick, and Christopher.
The family lived a normal life, and Schwarzenegger did his best to be a present and active father while pursuing his career. But in May of 2011, everything changed. That’s when Schwarzenegger revealed a secret he had been hiding for years—he had another child.
On May 16, 2011, The LA Times reported that Schwarzenegger was the father of a 13-year-old boy, Joseph Baena. Baena’s mother, Mildred Baena, was Schwarzenegger’s housekeeper at the time of Joseph’s conception. Mildred worked for the family for 20 years, and she was pregnant with her son at the same time that Shriver was pregnant with her youngest son, Christopher.
Throughout Joseph’s childhood, his mother kept his true identity a secret. Schwarzenegger himself didn’t even know that he was Joseph’s father until he was seven years old. In a 2012 interview with 60 minutes, Schwarzenegger said he only found out when Joseph began to look like him.
“It was very difficult, strange, bizarre,” Schwarzenegger said. “I just said to myself, ‘Okay, I’m going to put this away.”
A Ticking Time Bomb
And that’s exactly what Schwarzenegger did. It wasn’t until seven years later that his family found out the truth after Mildred Baena had retired from her role as their housekeeper. The day after he left his post as California’s governor, he finally told his wife the truth during a marriage counseling session.
Soon after, Shriver filed for divorce. Schwarzenegger described what it was like to reveal this secret to his family in an interview with People Magazine.
“If you would have asked me 10 years ago, five years ago, two years ago, what is the most important thing in my life, I would tell you over and over, it’s my marriage, it’s my family,” he said. “So the thing that really meant the most to me kind of fell apart because of my doing. That is something that I will always look back and say, ‘How could you have done that.’”
While this was happening, Joseph was experiencing a shock of his own. Throughout his life, his mother had never told him the truth about his father. In an interview with Hello Magazine, Mildred explained what it was like to discover that Schwarzenegger was her son’s father.
“I knew Arnold was the father, and maybe as Joseph got older and began to look like him, he [Arnold] wondered. But he never said anything to me,” Baena said.
Eventually, the resemblance between Joseph and Schwarzenegger became too apparent to deny. Mildred explained what happened when she finally told Shriver the truth.
“She was so strong. She cried with me and told me to get off my knees. We held each other and I told her it wasn’t Arnie’s fault, that it takes two,” Baena said.
When the news broke, Mildred tried her best to stay out of the public eye, and she agreed to give one interview only. In the interview with Hello, she spoke about her son’s reaction to the news. She said that when her mother sat Joseph down to tell him the news, he exclaimed, “Cool!” and said he was looking forward to getting to know Schwarzenegger.
Both Mildred and Joseph remained silent on the matter for years. It wasn’t until January of 2022 that Joseph finally broke his silence in an interview with Men’s Health.
Joseph opened up about what his life was like growing up in the suburbs of California. “It was a humble home, and we didn’t have much,” Baena said. He has four siblings on his mother’s side, and he recalled that his childhood was, overall, peaceful and happy.
That is until the news broke of his father’s identity. He said he was in the eighth grade at the time, and he was pulled out of class by his mother. She told him that they had to go home immediately, and she explained that the media had found out about his father. They left on a road trip to Texas to hide from the prying eyes of the paparazzi.
“She was really the only person I had, and I was really the only person that she had,” he said. “No one knew, and everyone wanted the details. We had each other’s backs.”
Even though his first experience making headlines was due to Schwarzenegger, that isn’t what he wants to be known for. As a current real estate agent and aspiring actor, Baena hopes to pave his own path, despite the shadow of his father.
What do you think about Schwarzenegger’s scandal? Pass this along to your favorite gossip who would be excited to see what his secret son is up to now!