A former debate champion at Cambridge University, Ariana Huffington used her powers of conviction and assertion to become one of the most influential political commentators of the late 20th and early...
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|Citizen U.S.A: A 50 State Road Trip (2009-2010)||Actor||n/a||2009||1|
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|Indecision '96: The Democratic National Convention (1994-1995)||Actor||Correspondent||1994||1|
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|AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Warren Beatty (2006-2007)||Actor||Attendee||2006||1|
|Declarations: Essays on American Ideals (1992-1993)||Actor||n/a||1992||1|
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Born Ariana Stassinopoulous in Athens, Greece on July 15, 1950, she was the daughter of journalist Konstantinos Stassinopoulous, and began distinguishing herself in academics while still in her teens. A MA graduate in economics from Cambridge University, she was the first foreign-born student and third female to preside over the Cambridge Union Society, the school's esteemed debate society. That status made her a popular guest on radio and television game shows and programs devoted to political discussion, like Radio 4's "Any Questions?" and "Face the Music" (BBC, 1966-1979; 1983-84; 2007). She also penned her first book in 1974, The Female Woman, which concerned the change in women's roles.
Huffington met and became involved with journalist Bernard Levin while both were serving as panelists on "Face the Music." Their courtship ended when he refused to marry her, so she relocated to the United States in 1980. There, she initially aligned herself with liberal and Democrat causes, most notably through her romantic association with California governor Jerry Brown and the teachings of Roger Delano Hinkins, who as John-Roger, founded the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness. She eventually shifted her politics towards more conservative lines, espousing such views in articles for the Republican-leaning publication, The National Review. In addition to her journalism, Huffington also published several high-profile biographies, including Maria Callas: The Woman Behind the Legend (1981) and Picasso: Creator and Destroyer in 1988, which was turned into the feature film "Surviving Picasso" in 1996.
In 1986, Huffington met and married businessman and political aspirant Michael Huffington. The couple relocated to Washington, D.C. that same year after President Ronald Reagan appointed Michael Huffington Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations Policy. After Reagan's departure from office, they returned to California, where Michael campaigned for a seat in the House of Representatives. Ariana was crucial in attracting political and religious conservatives to her husband's campaign by espousing smaller government and traditional values. After Michael won the seat in 1992, she delved further into the subject in her 1994 book The Fourth Instinct, which explored mankind's need for deeper spiritual connection. However, she soon found herself under fire from critics, who found her stumping for the Religious Right somewhat opportunistic, given her continued association with the Movement for Spiritual Inner Awareness.
Michael Huffington's campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1994 was met with defeat by incumbent Diane Feinstein, which preceded his split from Ariana Huffington in 1997. The following year, Michael Huffington publicly admitted he was gay, and media outlets began reporting that Ariana had entered into the union with full knowledge of his sexual orientation. Despite the scandal, Huffington soon began to build a sizable following, largely from conservatives who felt disenfranchised by the administration of President Bill Clinton. Her first venture into online political commentary came in 1998 with Resignation.com, which called for him to leave the Oval Office after news regarding his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky became public. She further endeared herself to the right with her 2000 book How to Overthrow the Government, which depicted his presidency as riddled with corruption.
Huffington soon became a much in-demand political commentator on news and talk programs. Her personal charm and way with a sound bite made her a particular favorite for comedy-related programs like "The Daily Show" (Comedy Central, 1996- ) and "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher" (Comedy Central/ABC, 1993-2002), and received an Emmy nomination for her coverage of the 1996 presidential election for the latter series. Huffington also initially represented the conservative point of view on the popular National Public Radio series "Left, Right and Center," and even took on a few acting roles on "Roseanne" (ABC, 1988-1997) and in the feature "EdTV" (1999).
The new millennium signaled a sea change in Huffington's political stance. She began describing herself as a "progressive populist," but eventually, she began aligning herself more with the Democrats/liberal ideology she embraced during her first years in the United States. She launched the Detroit Project, a public interest group that lobbied for alternative fuel; the group garnered controversy in 2003 after releasing television spots that equated owning high-end sport utility vehicles with supporting terrorism.
That same year, Huffington threw herself into the political arena by announcing her candidacy for governor of California following the ousting of Governor Gray Davis. Her independent platform seemed among the most organized and well-informed of the countless candidates who contributed to the election's circus atmosphere, but she soon pulled out of the race, citing an interest in defeating the recall vote that removed Davis as the best way of stopping actor Arnold Schwarzenegger from assuming the office. Though she failed to stop the action star from becoming governor, her name - which was never removed from ballots - ranked 5th out of 135 candidates.
Huffington continued to lend her voice to Democratic-oriented policies and policymakers in subsequent years. She famously endorsed John Kerry on "The Daily Show," and penned 2003's Pigs at the Trough and 2004's Fanatics and Fools, two books that criticized the George W. Bush administration and the neo-conservative movement as a whole. In 2005, she was a speaker at the California Democratic Party State Convention, and launched her web site, The Huffington Post. The blog and news aggregate, which culled left-minded reporting from around the globe as well as offering commentary from a host of celebrity and political commentators, including future President Barack Obama, quickly became one of the Internet's most trafficked sites for American and global politics. In 2006, Time named her one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, while The Observer cited The Huffington Post as the most powerful blog on the planet.
Huffington expanded her media empire in 2007 with the Air America radio program, "7 Days in America." She made inroads into television news by substituting for Rachel Maddow on "The Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, 2008- ), a move which signaled to media watchers that she was angling for a more permanent position on the network. That same year, she penned Right Is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe. She was also announced as part of the vocal cast for the animated series "The Cleveland Show" (Fox, 2008- ) for Seth McFarlane.
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