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Shriver, Maria 1955–

SHRIVER, Maria 1955–

(Maria Owings Shriver)

PERSONAL:

Born November 6, 1955, in Chicago, IL; daughter of Robert Sargent (a lawyer, first Peace Corps director, and ambassador to France) and Eunice Mary (founder of the Special Olympics) Shriver; married Arnold Schwarzenegger (a bodybuilder, actor, and politician), April 16, 1986; children: Katherine Eunice, Christina Aurelia, Patrick Arnold, Christopher Sargent. Education: Georgetown University, B.A., 1977. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Roman Catholic.

ADDRESSES:

Office—First Lady's Office, State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814.

CAREER:

Broadcast journalist. KYW-TV, Philadelphia, PA, news producer and writer, 1977-78; WJZ-TV, Baltimore, MD, producer, 1978-80; PM Magazine, reporter, 1981-83; Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. (CBS), reporter, 1983-86, correspondent and anchor, CBS Morning News, c. 1985; American Parade, correspondent, 1984; National Broadcasting Company, Inc. (NBC), news reporter and correspondent, 1987-2004; Sunday Today, NBC, cohost, 1987-90; Main Street, NBC, anchor, 1987; Summer Olympics, Seoul, Korea, coanchor, 1988; Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, NBC, coanchor, 1989; NBC Nightly News Weekend Edition, anchor, 1989-90; Cutting Edge with Maria Shriver, NBC, 1990; First Person with Maria Shriver, NBC, beginning 1991; Dateline NBC, contributing anchor, 1992-2004; NBC News at Sunrise, Today, and NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, substitute anchor. First Lady of the State of California, 2004—. Appeared in film Last Action Hero, 1993.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Christopher Award, 1990, for NBC News special Fatal Addictions; Exceptional Merit Media award, National Women's Political Caucus, for an interview with Philippine president Corazon Aquino; Peabody award; Emmy award.

WRITINGS:

An Interview for NBC: February 24, 1988 (interview with Fidel Castro), Editora Poitica (Havana, Cuba), 1988.

What's Heaven? (juvenile), Golden Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Ten Things I Wish I'd Known—Before I Went Out into the Real World, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2000.

What's Wrong with Timmy? (juvenile), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.

What's Happening to Grandpa?, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2004.

And One More Thing before You Go—, Free Press (New York, NY), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS:

Maria Shriver has been in the public eye since her childhood. A member of the powerful Kennedy family, she is the daughter of Robert Sargent Shriver, an attorney and former Peace Corps director, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics. Determined to make a name for herself on her own terms, Shriver started a career as a television journalist in 1977, but she did not become well known until 1985, when she accepted a job as a coanchor of the CBS Morning News show. In that same year, she became engaged to bodybuilder and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Shriver switched to the NBC television network in 1987 and had a very successful tenure there as an news anchor and journalist, but when her husband was elected governor of California in 2004, Shriver shelved her television career, citing possible conflicts of interest between her career and her husband's political position.

Although Shriver is a member of the famous Kennedy family and is married to a celebrity, she told a Good Housekeeping interviewer, "I was always someone else's daughter or niece or wife, but I didn't want to live off someone else's accomplishments. When you're born into such a big thing [as the Kennedy family], you have to focus and push to make your own way in the world."

In addition to her broadcasting career, Shriver has won acclaim as the author of several books. Ten Things I Wish I'd Known—Before I Went Out into the Real World was inspired by a commencement speech she gave at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and is filled with insights and stories to inspire and encourage young people. Although the lessons are not particularly new—Shriver includes such insights as "be willing to fail," "stand your ethical ground," and "marriage is a hell of a lot of hard work"—numerous reviewers noted that the author's personality and friendly style makes them shine. So do the stories of her own life that illustrate each concept. She tells about her first television experience and about interviewing Cuban leader Fidel Castro—an interview she had to postpone in order to get her daughter to her first day of kindergarten. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that "Shriver's strength of character, her genuine admiration for her parents and her love of family shine through."

In What's Heaven? Shriver answers a question her own daughters asked when their great-grandmother Rose died. Shriver's daughter Katherine was six years old at the time. Although Shriver is Catholic, the book has a nondenominational tone, as a Publishers Weekly reviewer commented, "with more emphasis on angels than on God, and she leaves plenty of room for other schools of thought." In the book, little girl Kate asks what Heaven is after her beloved great-grandmother dies and she sees her mother so sad. Her mother explains that great-grandmother is in heaven, detailing what that is. Heaven, Shriver writes, "is a beautiful place up in the sky, where no one is sick, where no one is mean or unhappy. It's a place up beyond the moon, the stars, and the clouds … heaven isn't a place you cansee…. It's somewhere you believe in." Shriver also explains the concepts of mortal body versus immortal soul, and tells Kate that what was most wonderful about her great-grandmother will live on in the people who loved her.

In What's Wrong with Timmy?, which also features the character of Kate, Shriver explored the topic of mental and physical disabilities. Visiting the playground with her mother, Kate sees a boy who looks and acts differently from the other children. He is mentally disabled, and Kate begins questioning her mother about the child. "Once again, journalist Shriver uses the narrative to model a difficult conversation between parent and child," related a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Kate's mother replies with insight and information from a Christian perspective, assuring her daughter that God loves everyone exactly as they are. Kate then becomes friends with the boy and encourages other children to do the same. The Publishers Weekly writer felt that What's Wrong with Timmy? was somewhat more heavy-handed than Where's Heaven?, but stated that the book's message "is to be lauded." Discussing the book with Adele Slaughter of USA Today, Shriver explained: "I wrote this book because it was an issue I knew a lot about…. My Aunt Rosemary has a developmental disability. She was included in her family's life at a time when most people who had a child with a disability put that child in an institution." Shriver continued, "What I'm hoping is that kids will be less scared after they read this book and use the word 'retard' less on the playground," because "as my kids always say—you don't know who has a disabled person in their family, and that is a really hurtful word."

Shriver continued with the same format and characters in What's Happening to Grandpa?, published in 2004. This book offers information and support to children learning about or coping with Alzheimer's disease. It depicts three generations in a close-knit family. When Kate learns that her grandfather has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, she struggles to know how she can help him. Together, they look through old photographs and put them together with his intact memories to create a scrapbook. "This well-meaning book is clearly and lovingly written," stated Martha Topol in School Library Journal. Assessing the story for Booklist, Hazel Rochman found the characters and situations to be somewhat idealized, but praised the book nevertheless for providing "clear facts about the disease."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

books

Contemporary Newsmakers, Issue 2, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1986.

Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1994.

Shriver, Maria, What's Heaven?, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Shriver, Maria, Ten Things I Wish I'd Known—Before I Went Out into the Real World, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2000.

periodicals

Booklist, August, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of What's Happening to Grandpa? p. 1943.

Children's Digest, November-December, 2004, review of What's Happening to Grandpa?, p. 26.

Good Housekeeping, February, 1993, Nancy Lloyd, "Maria Shriver: Up Close and Personal," p. 98; March, 1999, Joanna Powell, "'There Was a Lot of Loss Around,'" p. 104.

Los Angeles Times, November 14, 2001, Charles Casillo, "Lessons That Begin at Home; Maria Shriver Draws on Parental Experience for Her Kids' Books," p. E1.

Publishers Weekly, March 22, 1999, review of What's Heaven?, p. 90; June 7, 1999, Shannon Maughan, "Moving on Up," p. 31; February 21, 2000, review of Ten Things I Wish I'd Known—Before I Went Out into the Real World, p. 71; October 1, 2001, review of What's Wrong with Timmy?, p. 62.

School Library Journal, August, 2004, Martha Topol, review of What's Happening to Grandpa? p. 94.

USA Today, October 17, 2001, Adele Slaughter, "Maria Shriver Sheds Light on Disabilities."

Variety, August 22, 1990, review of Cutting Edge with Maria Shriver, p. 77.

Vogue, January, 1991, Julia Reed, "The Kennedy Women," p. 172.

online

Official Web site of the First Lady of California,http://www.firstlady.ca.gov/ (May 9, 2006), biographical information about Maria Shriver.*

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