Fiorello LaGuardia Biography

Fiorello LaGuardia was the mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945. A native New Yorker of Italian-Jewish origin, LaGuardia spent his entire career in civic service. He attended New York University law school, served as an interpreter at Ellis Island and was a longtime social activist with a special interest in immigrants and the poor. LaGuardia, a Republican, served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1917-21, 1923-33) and in the U.S. air force Italy (1918) before he was elected to the first of three terms as mayor in 1933. Nicknamed "The Little Flower" (he stood 5'2"), LaGuardia is remembered for his work toward housing and welfare reform, and for reading comic strips over the radio during a citywide newspaper strike.

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A 1959 Broadway musical about the mayor, Fiorello!, won four Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for drama. The mayor was played by Tom Bosley, later famous as Mr. Cunningham on the TV series Happy Days.

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