Margery Shriver, a breeder of champion pug dogs who was the Maryland Board of Motion Picture Censors vice chairman during a controversial period, died of Parkinson's disease and heart disease July 6 at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The longtime Stoneleigh resident was 89.
She joined censor board chair Mary Avara in banning the film "I am Curious (Yellow)" in 1969 and appeared on "The Dick Cavett Show" to defend her actions.
Born Margery Anne Zink in Huntington, Ind., she was the daughter of Carl J. Zink, a Commercial Credit executive, and Eloise Miles, a homemaker and seamstress. Raised on Gladstone Avenue, she attended Roland Park Elementary School and was a 1943 Eastern High School graduate. She attended the University of Miami and later earned a bachelor's degree from the Johns Hopkins University.
As a 13-year-old, she developed an interest in pets. An article in The Baltimore Sun described how she and a school chum staged a summertime dog show and sold lemonade to raise money for a blind World War I veteran who needed a German shepherd guide dog. The story said that they raised $6.85 and that the event was considered a success.
In 1945, she married Paul L. Shriver, an American Oil Co. real estate executive and attorney.
Mrs. Shriver, who kept Siamese cats, Manchester and Cairn terriers, and Brussels Griffons, became a professional dog breeder nearly six decades ago. She engaged a zoning attorney to help her get permission to use her Stoneleigh home and garage to house her many dogs.
"It was crazy to come to the top of the basement steps," said her daughter, Terry L. Shriver of Ruxton. "There would be eight or nine dogs to greet you."
Mrs. Shriver focused on pugs and developed a line she named after her street, Sheffield Road. She attracted a following of pug fanciers and was considered a nationally known expert on the breed.
"People came from all over the world and would stay at the house," her daughter said.
Mrs. Shriver competed at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show each February at Madison Square Garden in New York.
"She started breeding pugs in 1961; you can safely say she is the breeder of over 120 champions," said John Rothenberg of East Liverpool, Ohio. "She won the Pug Dog Club national three times. Her top stud dogs have produced almost 400 champions. Margery was in the Pug Dog Club of America Hall of Fame and was named its Breeder of the Year. In 2005, she was the American Kennel Club toy dog Breeder of the Year. She was proud of that honor."
Mr. Rothenberg, a fellow dog breeder, recalled her: "Margery was straightforward, frugal, pragmatic, honest and loyal. She was articulate and intelligent and had a very dry sense of humor."
Mrs. Shriver, an active writer of letters to the editor, campaigned for Baltimore County Executive Spiro T. Agnew. After he was elected governor in 1967, he named her to the state Motion Picture Censor Board. She was vice chairman and served alongside its outspoken chairman, Mrs. Avara. She was paid $4,000 a year and spent hours at a screening room at the State Office Building.
A 1969 feature about the board described a screening of a low-budget sex film.
"Mrs. Shriver ... was getting restless as she picked up one of the telephones in the screening room and dialed the number of her home on Sheffield road," the Sun article said. "One of her daughters, hard at work on the week's wash, answered. 'You're being careful about how much bleach you use, aren't you?' And the everyday conversation between mother and daughter continued, unruffled by the steamy sex scenes dancing in the line of Mrs. Shriver's vision."
Mrs. Shriver soon became the subject of local and national attention as her board clamped down on what many considered pornography as films arrived that did not hide their sexual content.
While Mrs. Avara sparred with talk show host Dick Cavett and his guest, singer Bobby Darin, in 1970 on national television, Mrs. Shriver also appeared and discussed the legality of the board's work.
She also accompanied three Baltimore vice squad detectives to the old Howard Theater in downtown Baltimore to seize a print of "What's Next" in 1970. The film had skirted the law by not being first brought to the censor board.
Mrs. Shriver left the board when her term was not re-approved. The board was disbanded in 1981.
A private gathering will be held in August.
In addition to her daughter, survivors include a son, Kirk L. Shriver of Anneslie; another daughter, K. Beth Spedalere of West Towson; five grandchildren; and a great-grandson. Her husband of 59 years died in 2004.