New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Extramarital Affair Is Revealed Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Rudy Giuliani was married to Donna Hanover when he began an extramarital affair with Judith Nathan. The media’s exposure of the affair set off a firestorm of coverage by New York City’s tabloid press and television stations. After a public and very contentious divorce, Giuliani married Nathan.

Summary of Event

During four weeks in early 2000, New York mayor Rudy Giuliani experienced a stunning reversal of fortune. In mid-April, he was the Republican candidate for a vacant U.S. Senate seat; was promised financial help from people across the country who disliked his opponent, Clinton, Hillary Rodham Hillary Rodham Clinton; and was supported by many New Yorkers. Less than one month later, he was fighting cancer, his marital difficulties were headline news, his reputation for morality was shattered, and he abandoned any hope of election to the Senate. [kw]Giuliani’s Extramarital Affair Is Revealed, New York Mayor Rudy (May 2, 2000) Giuliani, Rudy New York City;Rudy Giuliani[Giuliani] Giuliani, Judith Nathan Nathan, Judith Marriage;Rudy Giuliani[Giuliani] Giuliani, Rudy New York City;Rudy Giuliani[Giuliani] Giuliani, Judith Nathan Nathan, Judith Marriage;Rudy Giuliani[Giuliani] [g]United States;May 2, 2000: New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Extramarital Affair Is Revealed[02970] [c]Politics;May 2, 2000: New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Extramarital Affair Is Revealed[02970] [c]Public morals;May 2, 2000: New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Extramarital Affair Is Revealed[02970] [c]Sex;May 2, 2000: New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Extramarital Affair Is Revealed[02970] [c]Families and children;May 2, 2000: New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Extramarital Affair Is Revealed[02970] Giuliani, Donna Hanover Hanover, Donna Lategano, Cristyne

Giuliani’s announcement on April 27 that he was suffering from prostate cancer brought forth an outpouring of get-well wishes. The public was unaware of, and newspapers chose not to comment on, his most recent sexual adventure until a New York Daily News gossip columnist on May 2 noted that Giuliani and a friend (not identified) frequently dined together. The next day the New York Post published three pictures of the mayor and his friend that it had been holding back, identifying the woman as Judith Nathan. When questioned, Giuliani said Nathan was “a very good friend,” stimulating the two tabloids, New York City television stations, and national scandal magazines to tell their readers how good a friend.

Donna Hanover Giuliani and Rudy Giuliani in 1994.

(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Giuliani had been so open about the relationship it seemed as though he wanted to be caught. Newspapers now reported how frequently the two had dined together in posh New York restaurants, noted how often Giuliani was accompanied by Nathan rather than his wife at public events, and described his practice of arriving, escorted by two carloads of New York City police officers, for summer weekends at Nathan’s condominium in the Hamptons. Reporters had known about his behavior, but never mentioned it until the Daily News gossip columnist broke the silence.

Follow-up stories disclosed an extensive pattern of womanizing that did not fit Giuliani’s carefully cultivated reputation as defender of public morality, including condemning profane or licentious museum exhibits. When living alone in Washington, D.C., and estranged from his first wife, Giuliani had been actively dating other women. Even before his 1982 divorce, Giuliani and television reporter Donna Hanover began living together.

Giuliani and Hanover married in 1984. The two had an openly warm and mutually supportive relationship, and Hanover played a major role in Giuliani’s mayoral campaigns in 1989 and 1993. The closeness ended in 1995 when Giuliani began to spend most of his time with his press secretary, Cristyne Lategano. In its August, 1997, issue, Vanity Fair magazine asserted the two were intimate, but both denied the accusation. Hanover concentrated on her increasingly successful career as an actor, anchor on television news, and host of television cooking programs. She rarely accompanied Giuliani at public or social occasions and asked to be addressed by her professional name, Donna Hanover, rather than Mrs. Giuliani or Donna Giuliani.

On May 10, 2000, Giuliani called a morning press conference that was covered live by New York City television news stations. He announced his decision to separate from Hanover and hoped to reach a formal agreement with her. He praised Nathan, a registered nurse and sales representative for a drug company, for the support she had given him, which he expected would be even more valuable as he fought his own cancer.

Giuliani had not told his wife he intended to publicly call for a separation. Hanover learned of his plans when a friend phoned and told her to turn on her television. She was furious and arranged a press conference of her own for that afternoon. Standing in front of Gracie Mansion, the official mayoral residence, with tears in her eyes, she stated that she had tried to keep the marriage together but that Giuliani had not cooperated. Hanover asserted she had been unable to take part in his political life for years because of his relationship with one of his staff members—a reference to Lategano that newspapers gleefully explained to their readers. Now, she would reluctantly discuss a legal separation with her husband.

Defiantly, Giuliani issued a press release on May 12 that informed the media where he and Nathan planned to dine that evening. After dinner, Giuliani escorted her back to her apartment, ten blocks from the restaurant. They were followed by photojournalists and television camera operators.

New York State’s Republican leaders grew increasing concerned and impatient as the media circus over Giuliani’s sex life continued. They expected the contest between Giuliani, who cleaned up New York City, and the controversial former first lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Rodham Clinton, to generate voter excitement that would help their candidates for state office. Republican leaders urged Giuliani to end his garish behavior and concentrate on preparing for the U.S. Senate election less than six months away.

Giuliani vacillated. Doctors assured him he would recover sufficiently in a month or two to return to active campaigning. However, he could not be sure how badly his chances of election had been damaged by his public reputation as an immoral adulterer. On May 19, less than four weeks after his shocking announcement that he had cancer, Giuliani withdrew his Senate candidacy, claiming he needed to concentrate on his health in the coming months.

Giuliani filed for divorce in October. Acrimonious public battles broke out between spokespersons for both parties. Hanover continued to live in Gracie Mansion and secured a court order barring her estranged husband from entering the house or meeting his children before the divorce became final. The case dragged on until June, 2002, six months after the end of Giuliani’s term as mayor. The court awarded Hanover full custody of their two children and $6.8 million.

Giuliani and Nathan were married in Gracie Mansion by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on May 24, 2003. This was the third marriage for both Giuliani and Nathan. Hanover, after her divorce from Giuliani, reunited with her high school sweetheart, whom she had not seen for twenty years. The two were married in 2003, her third marriage as well.


After the nasty public breakup of his marriage and the venomous rancor of the divorce proceedings, pundits predicted that Giuliani’s political career was over because of the divorce scandal. However, everything changed on September September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks 11, 2001. Giuliani’s calm demeanor in response to the destruction of the World Trade Center and the murder of close to three thousand people turned him into a hero whose peccadilloes were forgiven. However, term limits set by the city charter prevented him from running for reelection. After leaving office, Giuliani opened a security consulting firm whose profits, along with hefty speaking fees, made him a multimillionaire.

In 2006, Giuliani began exploring the possibility of running for president of the United States. He formally announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in February, 2007. September polls indicated he was the front runner, but by the time Florida voted on January 29, 2008, the competition had narrowed to an exciting two-person contest between John McCain, John McCain and Mitt Romney. Giuliani withdrew from the race the next day. Giuliani, Rudy New York City;Rudy Giuliani[Giuliani] Giuliani, Judith Nathan Nathan, Judith Marriage;Rudy Giuliani[Giuliani]

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Apostolidis, Paul, and Juliet A. Williams, eds. Public Affairs: Politics in the Age of Sex Scandals. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2004. A study of politics and political culture in the context of sex scandals.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Barrett, Wayne, with Adam Fifield. RUDY! An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Giuliani. New York: Basic Books, 2000. A biography of Giuliani that attacks his character and treats him as a trickster and fraud.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Kirtzman, Andrew. Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City. New York: William Morrow, 2000. Praises what Giuliani accomplished for New York City but regrets the effect of his abrasiveness and egotism on his reputation.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Polner, Robert, ed. America’s Mayor, America’s President? The Strange Career of Rudy Giuliani. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Soft Skull Press, 2007. Nineteen essays by New York journalists and academics that negatively assess Giuliani’s behavior and character, arguing that he is unfit to be president of the United States.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Siegal, Frederick, with Harry Siegal. The Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York, and the Genius of American Life. San Francisco, Calif.: Encounter Books, 2005. An admirer of Giuliani praises his achievements as mayor of New York and suggests he would make a good president.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Strober, Deborah Hart, and Gerald S. Strober. Giuliani, Flawed or Flawless? The Oral Biography. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2007. Presents a generally favorable portrait of Giuliani, based on more than forty superficial interviews with the former mayor’s friends and critics.

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Categories: History