Donna Hanover

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Donna Hanover
First Lady of New York City
In role
January 1, 1994 – December 31, 2001
Preceded byJoyce Dinkins
Succeeded byDiana Taylor (de facto)
Personal details
Donna Ann Kofnovec

(1950-02-15) February 15, 1950 (age 70)
Oakland, California, U.S.
Spouse(s)Stanley Hanover (1972–c. 1980)
Rudy Giuliani (1984–2002)
Edwin Oster (2003–present)
EducationStanford University (BA)
Columbia University (MA)

Donna Hanover (born c. 1950[1]) is an American journalist, radio and television personality, television producer, and actress, who appears on WOR radio in New York City and the Food Network. From 1994 through 2001 she was First Lady of New York City, as the then-wife of Rudy Giuliani. She and Giuliani were married for 18 years and had two children, Andrew and Caroline.

Early life and education[edit]

Hanover was born Donna Ann Kofnovec in Oakland, California, to Catholic parents, Robert G. Kofnovec, a United States Navy officer who retired as a Lieutenant Commander, and his wife, Gwendolyn Dolores Kofnovec.[2]

Hanover attended Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, California. She later attended Stanford University, and graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science.[3] She met Harvard University graduate Stanley Hanover at Stanford in 1968 and the two were married after her graduation in 1972.[4] The couple moved to New York City.[4] She then attended the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and graduated with a master's degree in journalism.[3]

Broadcasting career[edit]

As Donna Hanover she began to work in a series of television journalism positions around the country, starting with a stint at WKTV in Utica, New York in 1973,[4] where she was also an associate faculty member at Utica College.[5] She then went to WTVN-TV in Columbus, Ohio.[6][7] By 1977, she was working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at KDKA-TV, spending 80-hour weeks hosting and producing their Evening Magazine show;[6] she and Stanley Hanover appeared to have separated.[4] They were divorced sometime after October 1980;[4][8] they had no children.

By 1980, Hanover had moved to Miami, Florida;[4] it was when she was working as an anchor[6] at Miami's WSVN that she met Giuliani. The couple moved in together in 1982 while Giuliani was still married to his first wife, but they had been separated since 1976. Giuliani had his first marriage annulled in late 1983. They then later moved to Washington, D.C. and then New York, and were married there on April 15, 1984. Hanover began working for WPIX Channel 11 television in New York in 1983,[5] and was the lead anchor for its 10 p.m. newscast for much of the 1980s. She also appeared on the syndicated Wall Street Journal Report.[5] She left her anchor role during Giuliani's unsuccessful 1989 bid for mayor to go on maternity leave.[6] Hanover had two children with Giuliani, Andrew Harold (born 1986) and Caroline Rose (born 1989). She began to use Donna Hanover Giuliani as her name in some contexts, but still used Donna Hanover in others.[6] She left WPIX entirely in 1990,[5] and did some freelance work for New York's WNYW Channel 5 in 1992 and 1993.[6]

First Lady of New York City[edit]

In 1993 she actively campaigned for her husband during his successful campaign for Mayor, appearing in his television ads as a devoted wife and mother. In 1994, she became First Lady of New York City. In this role, she promoted various health and educational causes around the city and was active in the city's civic life. She had a staff of four and an office at Gracie Mansion, but had no involvement in determining the mayor's policies.[9]

In addition to her duties as first lady, she was a features reporter for local station WNYW Channel 5's morning Good Day New York show,[6] rotating anchor of WNYW's Good Day Sunday program,[6] and a co-anchor on the national cable Food Network's Food News and Views program.[6] She balanced these positions with her political and mother roles by eschewing some of the production work she had done in the past.[6] In addition, she worked from time to time as a radio disc jockey for New York's WYNY.[6] The dual, concurrent roles as a journalist and political wife led to discussions of a possible conflict of interest,[6] but even Giuliani political opponents such as Peter Vallone, Sr. respected her professionalism.[6]

Hanover branched out into acting, having a prominent role as real-life presidential sister Ruth Carter Stapleton in the 1996 film The People vs. Larry Flynt;[10] noted critic Frank Rich called her performance brilliant.[3] She also appeared in the feature film Ransom that same year as a WNYW reporter. By 1996, she had reverted to only using Donna Hanover as her name and her public appearances with Rudy Giuliani became few.[11] By 1997 there were published reports of his having an affair with mayoral aide Cristyne Lategano,[10] and by 2000 with Judith Nathan. Hanover continued her acting work, appearing from 1997 on in episodes of the television series Law & Order in a recurring role as Judge Deborah Bourke, and also appearing on series such as Family Law, The Practice, Sex and the City, and Ally McBeal.[10][12]

In April 2000, Hanover accepted the lead role in Eve Ensler's play The Vagina Monologues, a feminist work that was known for previously casting high-profile actresses such as Gillian Anderson, Melissa Etheridge, Calista Flockhart and Winona Ryder, among others.[13] Veteran New Yorker contributor Peter J. Boyer asserted that Hanover's acceptance of the role was a "well-struck blow" because Ensler was "an outspoken critic of Giuliani's policies." Before Hanover's debut, she postponed (and later canceled) her participation in The Vagina Monologues on May 2 to support her husband a week after it was announced he had prostate cancer.[14] On the evening after announcing his cancer diagnosis, reporters observed Rudy Giuliani having "a romantic dinner" with Judith Nathan, the woman who would be identified as his lover.[15] One week later, at a press conference on May 10, Giuliani announced that he and Hanover were officially separated. Hanover had not been informed and was surprised by the news.[16]

Giuliani filed for divorce in October 2000.[17] Hanover and Giuliani stopped cohabiting at the end of his term in December 2001. Hanover counter filed in June 2002. After ugly public battles between representatives of the two,[18] the divorce was finalized in July 2002 after he left office as Mayor; Hanover was awarded $6.8 million and custody of their two children.[19]

Subsequent life and career[edit]

In 2003, Hanover married Edwin Oster, an attorney practicing in Newport Beach, California. The two had dated in high school and in college, but had not spoken with each other for more than 20 years, until after Hanover's divorce from Giuliani.[2] In 2005, Hanover published the book My Boyfriend's Back: 50 True Stories of Reconnecting with a Long-Lost Love,[12] relating her story as well as those of others who had rejoined with lost loves.[20] She lives in both New York and California.[12]

She continued to work at the Food Network, co-anchoring its In Food Today program.[5] During 2005, she also hosted the Fine Living cable channel's Homes & Hideaways program.[12] She did fill-in work for New York radio station WOR for several years, then joined it on a full-time basis in February 2006,[21] working first with co-host Ed Walsh[21] and then as of August 2006 with Joe Bartlett.[22] The latter pairing subsequently won an award for best broadcasting team.[23] In May 2008 the two were replaced in the morning slot by the returning John R. Gambling, but she remained with the station as a film critic and fill-in host.[24] Hanover also worked as an adjunct professor at New York University's Department of Journalism.[5] She continued to be active in charity circles.[25]


  • 1980s — Pinnacle Award from American Women in Radio & Television for "Advertising by Plastic Surgeons"[5]
  • 1984 — New York State Associated Press Broadcasters' Association Award for "A Profile of Bobby Williams, A Handicapped Child"[5]
  • 1989 — San Francisco State University Broadcasts Award for "Suffer the Children"[5]
  • 2007 — New York State Broadcasters Association's Outstanding On-Air Broadcast Team award (with Joe Bartlett)[23]


  1. ^ Alex Tresniowski, "Rudy Who? ", People magazine, November 11, 2002.
  2. ^ a b "Donna Hanover, Edwin Oster", The New York Times, August 3, 2003. Accessed March 15, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c Kelli Anderson, "She'll Take Manhattan", Stanford Magazine, May/June 1997. Accessed March 15, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Wayne Barrett, Rudy!: An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Giuliani, Basic Books, 2000; ISBN 0-7567-6114-X, pp. 111–112.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Donna Hanover: Biography" Archived September 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Food Network. Accessed December 4, 2007.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Elisabeth Bumiller, " Clash of Careers For First Lady; Donna Hanover's 2 roles are not always separate", The New York Times, December 1, 1995. Accessed 2007-12-03.
  7. ^ Kaplan, James (April 25, 1994). "Guarding Donna". New York Magazine. New York City: New York Media LLC. pp. 56–63. ISSN 0028-7369. Archived from the original on June 6, 2020. Retrieved March 23, 2010. Around 1976, somewhere between WTVN in Columbus and KDKA in Pittsburgh, Stanley Hanover vanishes from the radar screen. Alt URL
  8. ^ According to Barrett, "The Hanovers have declined in numerous interviews to say where and when they divorced."
  9. ^ Beth DeFalco; Yoav Gonen, "De Blasio's wife wants office, role at City Hall", New York Post, January 18, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c "The Women In Giuliani's Life", CBS News, May 11, 2000. Accessed 2007-12-03.
  11. ^ Margaret Carlson, "In Rudy's Playground", Time, July 11, 1999. Accessed February 15, 2007.
  12. ^ a b c d "Meet Donna Hanover" Archived May 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, WOR. Accessed December 3, 2007.
  13. ^ Jesse McKinlye, "'Monologues' Making A Political Connection", The New York Times, April 21, 2000.
  14. ^ Alicia Montgomery, "Giuliani's wife quits 'Vagina'" Archived April 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Salon, May 2, 2000. Accessed 2007-12-03.
  15. ^ Peter J. Boyer, "Mayberry Man," The New Yorker, August 20, 2007, p. 53.
  16. ^ "The Complete History of Scandals: 2000: Good Night Gracie: We’re getting divorced! We are?!", New York magazine, April 1, 2012.
  17. ^ "Giuliani Divorce Settlement Reached", Associated Press, CBS News, July 10, 2002. Accessed 2007-12-03.
  18. ^ Margaret Carlson, "No Grace At Gracie Mansion", Time, May 20, 2001. Accessed 2007-12-03.
  19. ^ "Giuliani settles divorce out of court", BBC News, July 10, 2002. Accessed 2007-12-03.
  20. ^ "My Boyfriend's Back", Accessed December 3, 2007.
  21. ^ a b Chuck Taylor, "Hanover Joins WOR NYC A.M. Team", Radio Monitor, February 14, 2006. Accessed December 3, 2007.
  22. ^ "WOR/New York's Ed Walsh Exits", Radio Monitor, August 25, 2006. Accessed December 4, 2007.
  23. ^ a b "Joe Bartlett & Donna Hanover named NYSBA’S 'Outstanding On-Air Broadcast Team'" Archived December 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, WOR, June 28, 2007. Accessed December 3, 2007.
  24. ^ "Gambling returns to WOR Radio — with help from NYC mayor". Newsday. Associated Press. April 30, 2008. Retrieved May 6, 2008.
  25. ^ "Celebrities & VIPs Attend the Star-Studded 11th Annual Women Who Care Luncheon" Archived February 1, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, United Cerebral Palsy, May 7, 2012.

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Joyce Dinkins
First Lady of New York City
Succeeded by
Diana Taylor (de facto)
Chirlane McCray (2014)