Sliwa in 2007
|Known for||Founder of the Guardian Angels; radio host, politician and media personality|
(m. 1981; div. 1995)
(m. 2000; div. 2012)
|Children||Anthony Chester |
Curtis Sliwa (born March 26, 1954) is an American anti-crime activist, founder and CEO of the Guardian Angels, radio talk show host and politician.
Sliwa has announced that he will be running for mayor of New York City in 2021 as a Republican.
Sliwa was born into a Catholic family of Polish and Italian descent, in Canarsie, Brooklyn. He has two sisters. He attended Brooklyn Prep, a Jesuit high school from which he was later expelled, and graduated from Canarsie High School, a Brooklyn, New York City public high school. Prior to founding the Guardian Angels, he was night manager of a McDonald's restaurant on Fordham Road in the Bronx.
In May 1977, Sliwa created the "Magnificent 13", a group dedicated to combating violence and crime on the New York City Subway. At the time, the city was experiencing a crime wave. The Magnificent 13 grew and was renamed the Guardian Angels in 1979. The group's actions drew strong reactions, both positive and negative, from the police, public officials, residents, and the media. Throughout the early 1980s, the group's distinctive uniform, a military-type red beret and white insignia T-shirt, became recognizable as the group grew and courted media attention. In 1992, Sliwa received the prestigious Courage of Conscience Award from the Peace Abbey, at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston.
In the early 1980s, he became active in Buffalo, New York, and was often critical of local police policies and practices. Sliwa continues to act as the president of the organization and oversees its worldwide operations. His ex-wife, Mary, was Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer. Sliwa frequently visits chapters throughout the world and graduates new chapters. Sliwa stated that as of 2011, the Guardian Angels operated in nine countries and 82 cities around the world, with approximately 5,000 members.
On June 19, 1992, Sliwa was kidnapped and shot by two gunmen after entering a stolen taxi in Manhattan. The taxi picked up Sliwa near his home in the East Village, and a gunman hiding in the front passenger seat jumped up and fired several shots, hitting him in the groin and legs. The kidnapping was foiled when Sliwa leapt from a front window of the moving cab and escaped. Sliwa underwent surgery for internal injuries and leg wounds.
Federal prosecutors eventually charged John A. Gotti, the son of Gambino crime family leader John Gotti, with the attempted murder and a raft of other charges. Prosecutors claimed that Gotti was angered by remarks Sliwa had made on his radio program about Gotti's father. However, after three attempts to try him, the last on September 20, 2005, three separate juries were unable to agree to convict Gotti on all of the charges brought against him, and the charges were dropped. Jurors later told reporters they did believe he had a role in Sliwa's shooting. Prosecutors declined to re-try Gotti and dismissed the charges against him. Sliwa has said he would seek damages in civil court.
Michael Yannotti, a Gotti associate, was also charged with shooting Sliwa in the incident but was acquitted. Yannotti, however, was sentenced to 20 years on an unrelated racketeering charge. Still, Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin said evidence suggested Yannotti was the shooter.
Sliwa has been a radio broadcaster for three decades, most of that time on WABC-AM, where he began his career in 1990. In 1994, the then city-owned and operated WNYC hired Sliwa, who had been released by WABC. Some, including Sliwa, have suggested that he was forced on the station by newly elected mayor Rudy Giuliani, whom he had supported in the mayoral race. Sliwa stayed four months in the position before moving back to commercial radio.
Sliwa has become a populist conservative radio talk show host. Since 1996 he has hosted various radio programs on WABC, and in 2000, he became the co-host, with attorney Ron Kuby, of the long-running Curtis and Kuby in the Morning. The show lasted eight years before Citadel Broadcasting replaced the team with Don Imus. His longtime broadcast partner was lawyer Ron Kuby, with whom he had multiple times hosted in the past "Curtis & Kuby" weekday radio show at noon, on WABC-AM in New York City. Starting in June 2017, Sliwa's co-host was attorney & television commentator, Eboni Williams. This pairing was short-lived. He was then paired with veteran media personality Rita Cosby, but that was short-lived as well. His current co-host is another media/news veteran, Juliet Huddy.
The Curtis Sliwa LIVE program began national syndication on December 1, 2008. WABC retained Sliwa until November 2009, when his show was cancelled after a contract dispute. He hosted both the morning and evening "drive time" shows on WNYM-AM 970, but as of January 2, 2014, Sliwa returned to WABC, replacing Rush Limbaugh who moved to WOR-AM.
Opie and Anthony Incident
On the morning of May 19th, 2008, Sliwa started a short-lived feud with morning radio hosts Opie and Anthony despite an earlier encounter where both parties were respectful to each other. Sliwa was angered over the firing of reporter Arthur Chi'en, who was fired for cursing while live on television after Opie and Anthony fans were teasing him as part of the "O&A Assault on the Media" campaign. The hosts mocked his mannerisms, extreme conservatism, on-air personality, attempts to spread misinformation, colloquialisms, the fact Sliwa was forced to give up the majority of his time slot to Don Imus, constant recollections of his kidnapping, and frequent references to the Italian Mafia.
The hosts attempted to contact Sliwa to defend themselves, however the representative on the phone informed their producer that he was doing an interview with a college radio station. Upon calling the same college radio station, they were informed that Sliwa was not scheduled to be interviewed that day. Sliwa's call screener was then questioned why they chose to give them false information, to which it was implied Sliwa was avoiding any sort of on-air confrontation despite his insults and derogatory comments. Sliwa proceeded to inform his audience that the Opie and Anthony producer was "stalking" him and gave out the producer's cellular phone number live on air in an attempt to retaliate.
In September 2016, Sliwa launched a successful hostile takeover of the Reform Party of New York State. The party lost its ballot access in the November 2018 elections. Sliwa has announced that he will be running for mayor of New York City in 2021 as a Republican, seeking to become the 110th mayor of New York City.
Sliwa has been married four times. He wed his second wife, Lisa Evers, in 1981. At the time, she was National Director of the Guardian Angels; she also co-hosted a WABC-AM radio show called Angels in the Morning. Lisa, a martial arts expert who briefly trained with the World Wrestling Federation in 1986, is now a television reporter and radio personality. Sliwa and Evers divorced in 1995.
In 2000, Sliwa married his third wife, Mary Galda, a former WABC employee who also served as the Guardian Angels' national director. They have one son, Anthony Chester. Sliwa has been sued by his ex-wife, Mary, who accused him of diverting money during their marriage to a mistress as part of a plan to build a "nest egg" prior to moving in with her. The relationship was brief and ended shortly after they moved in.
In July 2018, Curtis married long-time girlfriend and attorney Nancy Regula who serves as the Director of Animal Protection in the Guardian Angels organization. Nancy and Curtis reside on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with their rescue cats.
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Guardian Angels National Director Lisa Evers, 28, who will marry Angels leader Curtis Sliwa, 26, on Christmas Eve in Manhattan
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- "Guardian Angel Embodies The Right Attitude". Chicago Tribune. Montreal Gazette. July 21, 1986.
- Burke, Cathy (July 9, 2000). "Angel No. 1 Ties Knot with Bride No. 3". New York Post.
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- Gregorian, Dareh (December 11, 2013). "Curtis Sliwa Child-Support Trial: Queens Borough President-elect Melinda Katz Gets Grilled". New York Daily News.
- Williams, Timothy (September 6, 2006). "Sliwa, a Gotti Antagonist, Is Called by the Defense This Time". The New York Times.
- "Curtis Sliwa Homepage". Archived from the original on July 30, 2012.
- Curtis Sliwa on Facebook
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- 2008 Moment Of Thanks video of Sliwa thanking the Armed Forces
- on YouTube
- "Chester Sliwa, father of Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, dies at 92". NYDailyNews. September 11, 2012.
- "Frances Sliwa, mother of Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, dies at 93". NYTimes. May 31, 2017.