Sliwa in Bahrain
March 26, 1954 |
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Known for||Founder of the Guardian Angels; radio host and media personality|
|Spouse(s)||Lisa Evers (1981-1995)
Mary Galda (2000–present)
|Partner(s)||Melinda Katz (2014–2015)|
Curtis Sliwa (born March 26, 1954) is an American anti-crime activist, founder and CEO of the Guardian Angels, radio talk show host, media personality, and chairman of the Reform Party of New York State.
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 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 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 operate in nine countries and 82 cities around the world, with approximately 5,000 members.
Sliwa admitted that he had fabricated several of the Angels' exploits as well as a false allegation that he had been kidnapped in 1980 by off-duty transit officers. He has also admitted, in later statements, to "faking several kidnapping attempts on himself to make himself seem more valuable to the public". In addition, there has been an allegation that Sliwa did not found the Guardian Angels; that, rather, the group owes it origins to the Monroe Twins.
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 apparently foiled when Sliwa leapt from the 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 become a populist conservative radio talk show host. His longtime broadcast partner is lawyer Ron Kuby, with whom he has hosted in the past and currently hosts a weekday radio show at noon, on WABC-AM in New York City.
Sliwa has been a radio broadcaster for more than two 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.
He was back at WABC in 1996, 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.
The Curtis Sliwa LIVE program began national syndication on Dec. 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, returned to WABC with Kuby for a new midday show, replacing Rush Limbaugh who moved to WOR-AM.
Sliwa made weekly appearances as a commentator on NY1's Inside City Hall. He was suspended from the show for a month in April 2015 following sexual comments he made regarding New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, addressing himself as her "papi" and fantasizing about having sex with her. Sliwa defended his comments as satire.
Sliwa has been married twice. He and his first wife, Lisa Evers, married 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.
After separating from Mary, Sliwa announced plans in April 2012 to marry Melinda Katz, a former member of the New York State Assembly and New York City Council who was elected Queens Borough President in 2013. The New York Daily News reported, on February 14, 2015, that they separated on Election Day 2014. Over the previous five years, Sliwa had fathered two of Katz's children through in vitro fertilization. Sliwa stated in a radio interview that his children with Katz are being raised Jewish. The New York Daily News of February 14, 2015 reported that Katz and Sliwa had separated on Election Day 2014.
- Witchel, Alex (November 12, 1992). "BACK ON THE STREET WITH: Curtis Sliwa; Not Invincible, but Standing Fast". The New York Times.
- Couric, Katie (December 18, 2005). "Aleta St. James' journey to motherhood". MSNBC.
- "Brooklyn's Favorite Crime-fighter, Curtis Sliwa, Is Honored by Local Politicians" (PDF). Brooklyn Daily Eagle. March 6, 2008.
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- "James Cunningham, Buffalo Police Commissioner, Dies". The New York Times. Associated Press. January 22, 1984.
- Gonzalez, David (November 26, 1992). "Police Union to Sue Sliwa Over Hoaxes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-13.
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- Bennet, James (June 21, 1992). "Koch Visits Sliwa as Investigation Fails to Yield Shooting Suspect". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
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- Nossiter, Adam (April 13, 1996). "Gunman's Tale of Fear, Hatred and Drugs". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
- Hinckley, David (November 28, 2007). "Curtis & Kuby will 'go out with their heads high'". Daily News. New York.
- "ABC Radio Networks Launches Curtis Sliwa LIVE" (PDF). ABC Radio Networks. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
- "Curtis Sliwa is leaving WABC 770 AM". Daily News. New York. November 24, 2009.
- "A big 'Apple' welcome for Sliwa". Daily News. New York. December 7, 2009.
- Durkin, Erin (April 29, 2015). "NY1 suspends Curtis Sliwa for rants about City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito". New York Daily News.
- Fermino, Jennifer (April 29, 2015). "Curtis Sliwa — one day after his NY1 suspension — insists his comments about Melissa Mark-Viverito were 'satire'". New York Daily News.
- Mahoney, Bill (October 31, 2016). "Upstart group wins legal battle over control of the Reform Party". Politico. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
- Carter, E. Graydon (December 28, 1981). "People: Dec. 28, 1981". TIME. Archived from the original on October 15, 2010.
Guardian Angels National Director Lisa Evers, 28, who will marry Angels leader Curtis Sliwa, 26, on Christmas Eve in Manhattan
- Bernstein, Fred (February 8, 1982). "In a Time of Tragedy and Growth, the Guardian Angels' Curtis Sliwa Relies on His New Wife, Lisa". People.
- "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.
- Zambito, Thomas (June 14, 2006). "Gotti Goons Target My Boy: Sliwa". Daily News. New York.
- Karni, Annie (April 14, 2012). "Sliwa's a parent & Guardian to secret donor kids with fmr. City Councilwoman Melinda Katz". New York Post. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
- Chung, Jen (April 15, 2012). "Curtis Sliwa Was Ex-Council Member Melinda Katz's Sperm Donor And Now They're Getting Married". Gothamist. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
- "Curtis Sliwa to Raise Jewish Family". Jewish News on April 15, 2012. CrownHeights.info. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
- "Curtis Sliwa Reveals Secret Family, Will Raise Kids Jewish (VIDEO)". April 15, 2012. Algemeiner.com. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
- "Curtis Sliwa Homepage".
- Fanelli, James (May 9, 2013). "Guardian Angels' Curtis Sliwa Swindled Wife during Affair, Lawsuit Says". DNAinfo. New York.
- 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.