She is an award-winning journalist, a Kennedy, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ex. She is Maria Shriver, and this is what you need to know about her life and her romance with the action movie icon.
At one time, one of the most high-profile romances in Hollywood involved a world-class bodybuilder-turned-actor and a reporter who happened to be a member of the Kennedy family. For over two decades, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver lived in what seemed like wedded bliss, welcoming four children while he became an action movie icon and she became a Peabody award-winning journalist. Yet, it all came crashing down in 2011, after Arnold admitted to fathering a child with their then-housekeeper.
While some might know Maria through the lens of Arnold’s affair, there is much more to this woman than her husband’s adultery. Born in Chicago in 1955, Maria is the second child and only daughter of Sargent Shriver, a politician founding director of the Peace Corps, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Maria’s mother is the founder of the Special Olympics and sister to U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy. The family business – politics – would help Maria discover her own path.
While joining her father on the campaign trail for the 1972 presidential election – the Democratic candidate, George McGovern, picked Sargent to be his running mate – her staff put her in the back of the campaign plane with the reporters. “It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said in her 2000 book, Ten Things I Wish I’d Known. The journalists and reporters “were constantly observing and commenting, and their endless stream of quips and coverage — even cartoons — put the presidential campaign on a whole new plane for me.”
After graduating from Georgetown University in 1977, Maria began her journalism career as a writer and producer for a television station in Philadelphia. In 1983, she was a national news correspondent for CBS, per Britannia. After three years co-anchoring CBS Morning News, she left for NBC to work as a correspondent. 1986 would also see another major milestone in her life when she would say “I do” to a chiseled man from Austria
How the Two Met
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver first met in 1977, when NBC newsman Tom Brokaw introduced them to each other at the Robert F. Kennedy Pro-Celebrity Tennis tournament. “I was fascinated by her … because she had an extraordinary look,” he told 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl in 2012. “She had the dark hair that I always loved in women. She had this big smile. She had the most extraordinary personality, laughing all the time, full of joy, full of energy … I don’t remember ever having met anybody like that. … I said, ‘Your daughter has a great ass.’ I had a little bit too much to drink, I guess.”
“We asked him to Hyannis Port that weekend as a joke, kind of. He came,” Maria told Vanity Fair in 1985. The two hit it off, and for the first few years of their marriage, they were a bicoastal pair, with her working in Philadelphia and Baltimore while he pursued his surging acting career in Los Angeles. Maria and Arnold were married on April 26, 1986, at the Kenndy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Maria’s cousin, Caroline Kennedy, was maid of honor, per The New York Times.
Maria and Arnold’s marriage lasted for 25 years. During that time, he starred in some now-classic films (Predator, Total Recall, Kindergarten Cop, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, True Lies) and some not-so-classics (Batman & Robin, Eraser, End of Days). Maria developed into a well-respected name in journalism. As a part of Dateline, she would interview some noteworthy people like Ted Turner, Fidel Castro, and more.) Maria earned a Peabody Award in 1998 for a report on welfare reform. She also served as the First Lady of California after Arnold was elected Governor in the state’s 2003 recall election.
As Arnold was finishing up his second term as governor, his marriage to Maria fell apart. On January 4, 2011, she confronted him during a couples’ counseling session. “The minute we sat down, the therapist turned to me and said, ‘Maria wanted to come here today and to ask about a child — whether you fathered a child with your housekeeper Mildred,’ ” Arnold wrote in his 2012 biography, Total Recall, per ABC News. “I told the therapist, ‘It’s true.’”
Though Arnold pleaded with Maria to forgive him, she would have none of it. She separated from Arnold and filed for divorce that year. However, TMZ reported in 2018 that the couple had yet to finalize their split because they were still working out the finer details regarding their $400 million estate. The couple reportedly had no prenup, and the split was supposedly 50/50.
Following her split from Arnold, Maria was romantically linked to Matthew Dowd, the political strategist for Arnold’s 2006 reelection campaign, per the Washington Post. In 2017, during a playful segment on the Today show, Maria laughed when Carson Daly suggested she was “single and ready to mingle.”
Kids And Family
Maria and Arnold share four kids. She gave birth to their eldest, Katherine Schwarzenegger, on Dec. 13, 1989; Christina Schwarzenegger arrived on July 23, 1991; their first son, Patrick Schwarzenegger, was born on September 18, 1993; and their youngest, Christopher Schwarzenegger, was born on September 27, 1997.
Arnold’s affair with their former housekeeper, Mildred Patricia Baena, resulted in a son, Joseph Baena. Joseph was born on October 2, 1997. Though Arnold’s affair resulted in the end of his marriage, the Twins star has maintained a good relationship with Joseph.
Facts About Maria
Maria paused her career while then-husband Arnold served as Governor of California, mainly to avoid conflicts of interest. During that time, she focused on several key initiatives, including leading The Women’s Conference event to promote contributions women make to the Golden State. She also followed in her father’s footsteps to promote service and volunteerism and helped revitalized the California Museum, per MassLive. She also launched the California Hall of Fame, helping to celebrate Californians of all walks of life. Her office also started the WE Connect, a program to connect impoverished California families to programs and services.
After Arnold finished his second term, Maria returned to work. She rejoined NBC as a special correspondent to report on “women’s evolving experiences in the United States.”
“I’ve always believed that television can inspire and elevate humanity, and that’s my mission with this new partnership,” she said, per The Guardian. “I look forward to shining a light on all areas of a woman’s experience – from faith and finances, wellness and work, to relationships and the new realities of modern life – and exploring these issues in a way that brings the voices of men into these critically important conversations.”
Maria is a multi-Emmy Award-winning journalist. She earned two Emmys as the executive producer of The Alzheimer’s Project, a 2009 HBO series that took a look at the effect of the disease on patients and families, as well as the research being done to combat the disease. In 2018, she and daughter Christina co-executive produced Take Your Pills, a documentary about psychostimulant medications.
Katherine and her husband Chris Pratt welcomed their first child, a daughter, in August 2020. It marked the first grandchild for Maria and Arnold, though she wasn’t that excited about being called a “grandmother” just yet. “I’m not embracing that name exactly. I’m gonna come up with my own name,” she said to son Patrick during an interview for Entertainment Tonight. “I’ll just do ‘mama.’ No, I can’t do that. I’ve got to do something else. I’ll think of it. I’ll figure it out.”