LOS ANGELES (JTA) – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stole the show at the Israel Independence Day celebration in Los Angeles.
Twelve national and international television crews, plus another dozen photographers and print reporters, jostled for positions Tuesday evening to cover the event at the Skirball Cultural Center — in particular Schwarzenegger as he received an award recognizing his longtime support of Israel and its economy.
Schwarzenegger the day before had announced that he and his wife, Maria Shriver, had separated after 25 years of marriage. The split between the Republican body builder/movie action star/politician and the Democratic niece of President John F. Kennedy made world headlines and transformed the annual community event into a media frenzy.
The former governor, looking buff, tanned and relaxed at 63, had been invited long ago to receive the award at an event hosted by Israel’s consul general in Los Angeles, Jacob Dayan.
Schwarzenegger prefaced his remarks by thanking the audience and the public for “the tremendous amount of support and love that you have given us in the last 24 hours."
“I just spoke to Maria an hour before I came here … we both love each other very much and are fortunate to have four extraordinary children," he said, adding that "we’re taking it one day at a time.”
The audience of 800 then turned its full attention to Israel’s 63rd anniversary, the other honorees and the 90-minute multimedia show.