She was the media-savvy coanchor of the CBS Morning News and part of America’s most prominent Democratic dynasty. He was the muscle-bound Austrian-born star of The Terminator, and a staunch Republican. Yet on April 26, 1986, Maria Shriver, 30, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, 38, were wed in a lavish ceremony that attracted celebrities — and paparazzi — from all over the world.
When their unlikely romance began eight years earlier, few could have guessed where it would lead. Shriver, granddaughter of Joe Kennedy, met Schwarzenegger — then a world-class bodybuilder looking to break into Hollywood — in 1977, at a celebrity tennis tournament named for her uncle, Robert Kennedy. Despite their differences, the two quickly bonded; as Shriver later said, ”I fell in love with him almost as soon as we met.”
The wedding took place in Hyannis, Mass., in the white clapboard church where Robert and John F. Kennedy were once altar boys. Hundreds of fans and press gathered outside to gawk. The loudest cheers came for Jackie Onassis, who arrived with her son, John Kennedy Jr. (Singer Grace Jones also caused a stir when she arrived fashionably late with Andy Warhol.) In sum, 450 guests attended. Caroline Kennedy was maid of honor, and Italian bodybuilder Franco Columbu was best man. During the 75-minute ceremony, Ted Kennedy read from the Bible, and Oprah Winfrey recited Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s ”Sonnet 43” (How do I love thee…).
Afterward, Schwarzenegger, in a rented size 48 cutaway, whisked Shriver, in a satin Dior gown with 10-foot train, to the Kennedy compound, where heated tents shielded guests from the cold and long-lensed cameras. Invitees such as Barbara Walters and Arthur Ashe dined on cold lobster and chicken in champagne sauce, followed by a 7-foot, 425-pound carrot cake. And there were the traditional customs: Olympic swimmer Donna de Varona caught the bouquet, while Shriver’s CBS coanchor Forrest Sawyer bagged the garter. ”It was truly storybook,” recalls guest Andy Williams. ”Arnold the prince, and Maria the princess.”
And defying the naysayers, the fairy tale would continue. The couple have since had four children (coming close to a psychic’s pre-wedding prediction they’d have five), and their careers have thrived. Shriver recently won a Peabody award for her Dateline NBC work, and a kids’ book she’s written, What’s Heaven?, is now a best-seller. Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger is shooting Universal’s thriller End of Days. ”They are both incredibly strong people,” says Shriver friend and wedding guest Cathy Lee Crosby. ”There are differences, but they respect each other and want the same things. So they’re not only an interesting match but a perfect match.”
Time Capsule – April 26, 1986
AT THE MOVIES, Universal’s Legend, starring Tom Cruise, grosses $2.6 million, making it No. 1 at the box office for the second week in a row. IN BOOKSTORES, Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Supremacy, about a terrorist plot to seize Hong Kong, tops the best-seller list. IN MUSIC, The Artist Known at the Time as Prince has the No. 1 song with ”Kiss.” AND IN THE NEWS, the New York Mets win their eighth straight game on their way to a blazing 13-3 start. By season’s end, they’ll win a whopping 108 games