Arnold Schwarzenegger, who since leaving office as the Governor of California in January has evinced an interest in returning to the world of theatrical drama, has revealed some of the details behind his recent split from his wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver. It concerns his coupling with a housekeeper and the birth of a secret lovechild.
The revelation is belated in every possible way. The child, born to a woman who only recently left the service of the Schwarzenegger-Shriver household after 20 years, is now 10 years old. That means the birth predates Schwarzenegger's first campaign to run the affairs of the Golden State.
The voters of California are learning of the liaison and its progeny now because of diligent probing by the Los Angeles Times. His unexpected admissions to the newspaper include another not insignificant detail: that he only acknowledged the existence of the child, whom he has supported financially, to Ms Shriver shortly after stepping down from office this year.
Schwarzenegger, 63, who might have run for the White House were it not for his Austrian origins, did his best to display contrition in unveiling his secret to the paper. While he may no longer have political ambitions, he is seeking to re-launch his film career with another in The Terminator series.
"After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago," the ex-governor said in response to questions about his private life. "I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologised to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry.
"I ask that the media respect my wife and children through this extremely difficult time," the ex-governor, who has four children with Ms Shriver, concluded. "While I deserve your attention and criticism, my family does not."
The identity of the woman was not revealed by the Times. The newspaper said, however, that she only left the Schwarzenegger household this year. "I wanted to achieve my 20 years, then I asked to retire," she said, adding that she had "left on good terms with them".
In his 2003 campaign for governor, Schwarzenegger was assailed by allegations of improper behaviour with a series of women whom he had met during 30 years in Hollywood. That he managed successfully to repel the damage from the allegations was due in large part to Ms Shriver saying her husband was morally upright.
When they married in 1986, Schwarzenegger and Shriver instantly became one of America's most glamorous couples. He had been the youngest-ever Mr Universe and was a Hollywood star, while the bride was the daughter of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and a member of the country's most famous political clan.
Ms Shriver, 55, yesterday responded to the revelations: "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."