Almost a decade after they met at a celebrity tennis tournament, the television news reporter Maria Shriver marries the movie actor and former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger on April 26, 1986.
Politically, it seemed an unlikely match: Shriver, then a co-anchor for the CBS Morning News in New York City, was a Democrat and a member of one of the most prominent political families in the country. Her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, was the sister of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, while her father, R. Sargent Shriver, had been the Democratic nominee for vice president in 1972. Schwarzenegger, who was born in Austria on July 30, 1947, came to the United States in 1968 and became an American citizen in 1983. Soon after that, he began actively campaigning on behalf of Republican candidates; he would later be named chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports by President George H.W. Bush.
Shriver, who was born on November 6, 1955, began her career in journalism in 1977, after graduating from Georgetown University. That same year, the TV newsman Tom Brokaw introduced her to Schwarzenegger at a party the night before the annual Robert F. Kennedy Pro-Celebrity Tennis Tournament in Forest Hills, New York. The buff Schwarzenegger had won the first of five Mr. Universe titles at the age of 20. Upon his arrival in Hollywood, he acted in forgettable movies such as Hercules in New York before Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Terminator (1984) made him an A-list star. By then, he and Shriver were involved in a long term bi-coastal relationship, as she worked her way up the ladder at CBS News.
On April 26, 1986, Shriver and Schwarzenegger were married in St. Francis Xavier Church in Hyannis, Massachusetts, before some 500 guests. The bride’s cousin, Caroline Kennedy, was maid of honor, and the former Mr. Universe Franco Columbu served as best man. The reception was held at the Kennedy compound in nearby Hyannisport.
In the fall of 2003, Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California in a special recall election over the Democratic incumbent Gray Davis. At the time, Shriver was a news correspondent for NBC and a frequent contributor to the network’s Dateline program. In February 2004, she announced she was leaving the network due to the competing interests of her work as California’s first lady. In 2007, Shriver announced she would not be returning to TV news. Shriver reportedly played an important behind-the-scenes role in her husband’s campaign and administration, helping him gain the support of California’s electorate. Shriver and Schwarzenegger have four children: Katherine, Christina, Patrick and Christopher. In 2011, they announced they were separating, after 25 years of marriage.