Ed Koch Biography

(105th Mayor of New York City)

Birthday: December 12, 1924 (Sagittarius)

Born In: New York City, New York, United States

American politician and Democratic Party member Edward Irving Koch, better known as Ed Koch, was also a qualified lawyer, political commentator, author, film critic, and talk show host. He was part of the US House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977 and served as the mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989. Known for introducing effective housing reforms, he was a grounded person, who often watched movies with the common public at the theaters and also often greeted passersby with his trademark slogan "How'm I doin'?" He remained a bachelor throughout his life, which raised suspicions of him being gay, in the political circle. Though he maintained he was heterosexual, a 2022 news article confirmed he was gay and had hidden his sexual orientation to maintain his political superiority. Though a popular figure for most of his mayorship, he was criticized for his racist comments and decisions in his third term which, many think, led to his downfall and caused him to lose his fourth mayoral bid to David Dinkins, who became the first African-American mayor of New York.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Edward Irving Koch

Died At Age: 88


father: Louis Koch

mother: Yetta

Born Country: United States

Political Leaders American Men

Height: 6'2" (188 cm), 6'2" Males

Died on: February 1, 2013

place of death: New York City, New York, United States

Notable Alumni: City College Of New York

Diseases & Disabilities: Heart Problem

Grouping of People: Gay, Jewish Politicians

Cause of Death: Heart Failure

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

education: City College of New York, New York University

awards: Combat Infantryman Badge
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal

Childhood & Early Life

Ed Koch was born in the Bronx in New York City, on December 12, 1924. The second-born child of Polish-Jewish immigrant parents, Koch had 2 siblings. He graduated from South Side High School in 1941.

The same year, Koch joined the City College of New York, but his studies were marred by World War II. He served as a medic and an infantryman with the 104th Infantry Division and was posted in France in September 1944.

He also ended up with a European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two campaign stars and served in Bavaria, too. In 1946, he was honorably discharged as a sergeant.

Following the war, Koch attended the New York University School of Law. He passed the bar in 1949 and initially practiced by himself. He later practiced as part of the firm Koch, Lankenau, Schwartz & Kovner.

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Political Career

Ed Koch’s initial steps in politics, in 1956, saw him move to Greenwich Village and volunteer for Adlai Stevenson. As a Democrat, he then joined New York City politics as an opponent of Carmine DeSapio and Tammany Hall. In 1962, Koch unsuccessfully opposed incumbent William Passannante, for the Democratic nomination for the State Assembly.

He joined the New York City Council in 1966 and was named to the US Congress, first as a representative from the 17th district of New York, from 1969 to 1973, and then as a congressman from the 18th district, from 1973 to 1977.

In 1977, Koch was elected as the mayor of New York after defeating Liberal Party candidate Mario Cuomo. He restored fiscal stability of the city. As a mayor, apart from launching housing programs, which refurbished thousands of abandoned housing units, he also started a merit system for judges.

He supported the death penalty and was also an advocate of gay rights. He handled a city that was reeling with crime and faced a massive blackout, known as the 1977 New York City blackout. In 1981 and 1985, he was re-elected as mayor.

Best known for his trademark catchphrase “How’m I doin’?,” he had an unstable third term as a mayor, plagued by corruption allegations directed at his political associates and criticisms of his treatment of the AIDS crisis in the city. Some of his comments were viewed as racially insensitive and angered many African Americans.

He also closed a hospital that had served the African-American community. His last term as the mayor of New York was thus considered largely divisive and led to his loss in the fourth bid. In 1989, he ran for a fourth term, but lost the party primary to David Dinkins, who eventually defeated Rudolph Giuliani and become New York’s first African-American mayor.

Post-Mayoral Career

The Koch Administration Project by Columbia's Oral History Research Office showcased interviews with many of his colleagues and a full-fledged interview of Koch. Ed Koch later served as a partner in a law firm, apart from working as a political commentator. He also gained repute as a food and movie critic and had been associated with many print, radio, and TV outlets.

Ed Koch had also been an adjunct professor at New York University and was a judge on the reality court show The People's Court. Koch was a columnist for the New York Daily News and a talk-show host, too.

Koch also appeared in weekly movie review segments of the online show Mayor at the Movies, in 2009. A movie buff, he was often invited to private screenings but preferred to watch films with the audience. He ditched “stars” and rated good movies with a "plus" and bad movies with a "minus.” He was known for his witty one-liners, too.

He had penned countless books, ranging from political books to a children's picture books. He had written several murder mysteries, too, featuring, a character named Ed Koch, who was the mayor of New York in the tales, too. He is also remembered for his two memoirs, Mayor, published in 1984, and Citizen Koch, published in 1992.

A documentary that showcased his life and times, Koch, premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival on October 8, 2012. The same documentary got its theatrical release on February 1, 2013, which was, unfortunately, the day that he died.

Personal Life

Ed Koch remained single throughout his life, giving rise to rumors about his sexual orientation. During the 1977 mayoral election, the opposition attacked him with the slogan "Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo."

During an interview in 1989, he vehemently denied these rumors, stating he was very much heterosexual. However, he was often seen attending events and functions with his close friend, Bess Myerson.

In 2022, a New York Times article stated Koch was, in fact, homosexual, based on interviews with his close friends. He is believed to have revealed his homosexuality only to his gay friends. He was also apparently in a long-term relationship with health care consultant Richard W. Nathan.

It was believed that Koch had deliberately hidden his sexual orientation to bolster his political stature. He had apparently grown up during the lavender scare, in which a vast number of gay people ended up being dismissed from government jobs in the US, due to a panic surrounding LGBT people.

Koch’s final years were plagued by severe health issues, including heart ailments. He was admitted to Manhattan’s Columbia University Irving Medical Center on January 31, 2013, after he suffered from fatigue. He died at the same hospital due to heart failure, the following day. He was 88 at the time of his death.


He was a staunch supported of Israel and loved any form of artwork, be it movies or books, associated with Jews.

See the events in life of Ed Koch in Chronological Order

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