Mario Cuomo Biography

(52nd Governor of New York)

Birthday: June 15, 1932 (Gemini)

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

Mario Cuomo was an American politician and lawyer. He was elected as New York State's 52nd Governor in 1983, and was New York's longest-serving Democratic governor in modern history. He was re-elected twice, establishing popularity records in both campaigns.  Beginning with his internationally acclaimed keynote address at the 1984 Democratic National Convention and his famed lecture on the link between religion and politics at Notre Dame, he helped shape the progressive political landscape for nearly two decades. Governor Cuomo balanced twelve straight budgets, slashed taxes, generated more than half a million jobs, and led the state through two national recessions in twelve years. He spearheaded the most substantial economic development project in New York's history, promoting private-sector growth with billions of dollars in public investment in infrastructure upgrades and establishing an unprecedented network of high-tech research centers. Foreign investment in New York nearly quadrupled during Cuomo's term, creating thousands of new export prospects for New York businesses. Through the results of the Cuomo Commission on Trade and Competitiveness – The Cuomo Commission Report (1988) and America's Agenda: Rebuilding Economic Strength – he contributed to the national discussion on economic policy and trends (1992).

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Mario Matthew Cuomo

Died At Age: 82


Spouse/Ex-: Matilda Raffa ​ (m. 1954)

father: Andrea Cuomo

mother: Immacolata Giordano

children: Andrew Cuomo, Chris Cuomo, Madeline Cuomo, Margaret I. Cuomo, Maria Cuomo Cole

Born Country: United States

Quotes By Mario Cuomo Political Leaders

Height: 5'10" (178 cm), 5'10" Males

Died on: January 1, 2015

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

Cause of Death: Heart Failure

Diseases & Disabilities: Heart Problem

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

education: St. John's University

  • 1

    What were Mario Cuomo's political views?

    Mario Cuomo was a prominent Democrat known for his liberal political views, advocating for social welfare programs and progressive policies.
  • 2

    What were some of Mario Cuomo's notable accomplishments as Governor of New York?

    As Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo successfully balanced the state budget, implemented education reforms, and fought against discrimination and inequality.
  • 3

    How did Mario Cuomo handle the AIDS crisis during his time as Governor?

    Mario Cuomo was praised for his leadership during the AIDS crisis, advocating for increased funding for research and treatment while working to reduce stigma and discrimination.
  • 4

    What was Mario Cuomo's stance on immigration policies?

    Mario Cuomo was a strong supporter of immigration reform, advocating for compassionate and inclusive policies for immigrants seeking a better life in the United States.
  • 5

    What was Mario Cuomo's position on environmental issues?

    Mario Cuomo was a staunch advocate for environmental protection, supporting initiatives to reduce pollution, conserve natural resources, and combat climate change.
Childhood & Early Life

Mario Cuomo was born Mario Matthew Cuomo on June 15, 1932, in New York City, New York, U.S. at the height of the Great Depression into an immigrant family from rural Italy.

Cuomo earned summa cum laude from St. John's University in 1953 and 1956. Cuomo shared first-place honors at St. John's University School of Law. He then worked there as an adjunct law professor for thirteen years. Mario also clerked for New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals, under Judge Adrian P. Burke, before going into private practice in 1958 with the firm Corner, Weisbrod, Froeb, and Charles. He appeared in New York State Courts at all levels and the United States Supreme Court.

Cuomo was offered a position with the Pittsburgh Pirates while still a student at St. John's University in 1952. He bought an engagement ring for Matilda Raffa using his sign-on bonus. Mario played for the Brunswick Pirates in the Class D Georgia-Florida League until he was hospitalized for six days after being struck by a fastball (helmets were not required at the time). He returned to St. John's University and graduated with honors in 1953. He then went to St. John's University School of Law, where he graduated in 1956.

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Cuomo signed as a baseball outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1952 while attending St. John's University for a $2,000 bonus.

Cuomo played for the Brunswick Pirates of the Georgia-Florida League's Class D with future major leaguer Fred Green. He had a .244 batting average and played center field until a fastball hit him in the back of the head. Batting helmets were not compulsory equipment around that time, and Cuomo’s injury was severe enough to require six days in the hospital.

He returned to St. John's University after his recovery and earned his bachelor's degree summa cum laude in 1953.

Lawyer, Advocate &Public Servant

Mario Cuomo worked as an advocate for ordinary people for almost a decade. He rose to prominence in 1972 when he intervened to settle a violent controversy over proposed public housing in Forest Hills, Queens, at the request of New York City Mayor John Lindsay. Forest Hills Diary: The Crisis of Low-Income Housing (1974), his subsequent book, reflected the controversy's political and philosophical implications.

He liked assisting community groups with their legal issues. He earned a reputation of a talented debater and arbitrator. He once represented a group of junkyard owners and scrap merchants trying to rescue their companies after New York City rejected their land as a potential site for the 1964–1965 New York World's Fair.

On another occasion, he assisted people in Corona, Queens, in preventing their houses from being razed to make way for a school and athletic field. His successes were well reported, and the attention prompted recommendations that he run for public office.


In a three-way Democratic primary in 1974, he ran for lieutenant governor of New York but was unsuccessful. Cuomo continued to practice law until 1975 when Governor Hugh Carey named him Secretary of State of New York. As Secretary of State, he helped design New York's first public disclosure legislation and wrote the first lobbying reform in over seventy years.

Cuomo resigned from his legal firm and teaching position to give complete focus to the office. He tried to broaden the secretary of state's responsibilities, intervening in many state-wide crises such as the Mohawk Indian lands claim conflict, nursing care practices issues, and rent strikes. The post provided him with specialized training in state government.

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He ran for mayor of New York City in 1977. He lost the Democratic primary against six opponents. However, he remained in the contest as the Liberal Party's nominee. Edward Koch beat Cuomo.

Hugh Carey requested Cuomo to run as lieutenant governor on his re-election ticket in 1978. He earned the backing of his party. He was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1978, a position he retained until he was elected Governor in 1982. This hard-fought and the unexpected campaign became the topic of his second book, Mario M. Cuomo's Diaries (1984).

Cuomo toured the state as lieutenant governor, acting as an investigator for citizen complaints. He managed President Jimmy Carter's re-election candidacy in New York state in 1980 and was a member of the Democratic National Convention that year.

When Carey stated in 1982 that he would not seek a third term, Cuomo chose to run. In the race for the nomination, he fought an old foe, Edward Koch.Koch, who was well-known and well-funded, lost this round. By relying on volunteers and upstate voters, Cuomo won the Democratic primary and a spot on the Liberal Party ticket. In the primary election, he narrowly beat his wealthy Republican opponent to become New York's 52nd governor.

Awards & Achievements

Governor Cuomo received the "Emory Buckner Medal" from the Federal Bar Council in recognition of his "Outstanding Public Service." The Federal Bar Council fosters professional competence in federal courts and strengthens ties between federal judges and lawyers. Barnard College bestowed its highest distinction, the Barnard Medal of Distinction, upon Cuomo at its 1983 commencement festivities. Yeshiva University also conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1983.

Andrew Cuomo formally renamed the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in 2017. This was met with severe opposition and several attempts have been made to restore the bridge’s name to its predecessor.

Family & Personal Life

Cuomo was married to Matilda (née Raffa) for 60 years, from 1954, until his death in 2015. She attended Teachers College at St. John's University. The couple had five children: Margaret, Andrew, Maria, Madeline, and Christopher. Matilda was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2017.

Mario Cuomo’s older son Andrew Cuomo married Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of Robert F. and Ethel Skakel Kennedy, on June 9, 1990. They together had three children: twins Cara Ethel and Mariah Matilda Cuomo (born on January 11, 1995), and Michaela Andrea Cuomo (born on August 26, 1997). In 2005, the couple divorced. From 1997 to 2001, Andrew was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton.

Cuomo's younger son Chris Cuomo, worked as a journalist for the ABC Network news magazine Primetime. He led newscasts and co-hosted Good Morning America before joining CNN in 2013, where he co-hosted New Day, the morning news magazine. He hosted his own prime time television show, Cuomo Prime Time, until he was suspended and eventually fired in 2021 for assisting his brother Andrew in maneuvering a sexual harassment controversy that had previously led to Andrew's dismissal as Governor of New York and allegations were made against Chris after two sexual assaults.

Maria Cuomo married Kenneth Cole, a New York fashion designer. She is the Chair of the Board of HELP USA, a non-profit foundation affiliated with Mentoring USA, the organization her mother started.

Margaret, his daughter, is a "board-certified radiologist, teaching professional, and national advocate for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes prevention." She is the author of A World Without Cancer: The Making of a New World and the True Promise of Prevention (2013), and a member of the LessCancer Board of Directors. She has been on Good Morning America, Good Day New York, Morning Joe, and Inside Edition. The president and prime minister of Italy gave her the Commendation of the Order of the Star in 2011.

Facts About Mario Cuomo
Mario Cuomo was a talented baseball player in his youth and even considered pursuing a career in the sport before turning to law and politics.
He was known for his eloquent speaking style and ability to captivate audiences with his powerful and passionate speeches.
Cuomo was an avid reader and enjoyed studying literature and philosophy in his spare time.
He was a dedicated family man, often prioritizing spending time with his wife and children despite his busy political career.
Cuomo had a love for Italian cuisine and was known to enjoy cooking and sharing meals with friends and family.

See the events in life of Mario Cuomo in Chronological Order

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