Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rudi & Judy's Family Values

Guiliani at dinner with his "friend" Judi Nathan in 2001.
(Photo: Erik C. Pendzich/Rex USA)

Somehow, I just can't see this couple playing well in Iowa.

New York Magazine: The Thunderbolt
Six years ago, she was the other woman. Today, she’s the ostentatiously adoring wife of the front-runner for the Republican nomination. Judi Giuliani’s run for First Lady.


Judith Giuliani’s biggest drawback—her three marriages—reminds voters of Rudy’s own three and the associated tawdry drama. The first, to his second cousin, was annulled after fourteen years. His second, to Hanover, ended with Rudy’s televised May 2000 announcement that he intended to separate from her; Hanover’s shocked, tearful, also-televised response blamed Rudy’s “relationship with one staff member,” i.e., his communications director Cristyne Lategano. That was before much was known about Judith. By the summer of 2001, Judith’s face, along with Donna’s and Rudy’s, was plastered on the cover of People magazine with the tawdry headline INSIDE NEW YORK’S NASTIEST SPLIT … THE MAYOR, THE WIFE, THE MISTRESS.


As you descend from the hilltops on Route 309 into the former Judi Ann Stish’s hometown, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, it sparkles like shards of glass in the sunlight. Then—closer in, on the edge of town—the vision loses its luster amid the detritus of a long-abandoned coal-mining economy. You pass a barnlike structure sporting a sign that misspells adult shope, then gigantic Quonset huts, then strip malls, then churches. Since the mines shut down after World War II, Hazleton has struggled mightily. In 2002, U.S. News & World Report labeled Hazleton “a town in need of a tomorrow.” Aside from Judi, the city’s most famous native is Jack Palance.


[Nursing] also got Judith out. She met medical-supplies salesman Jeffrey Scott Ross and, after two years of nursing school up the road in Bethlehem, married him at the Chapel of the Bells in Las Vegas. Then they moved to North Carolina.

Their marriage lasted less than five years. By the time of their uncontested Florida divorce on November 14, 1979, husband No. 2 was already in the wings. She married Bruce Nathan five days later.

They had met in Charlotte, where Bruce had moved after selling the Long Island–based office-furniture business founded by his grandfather. For the 24-year-old Judi, who had spent much of the previous five years on the road, demonstrating and selling surgical equipment, Nathan was a catch. Over the course of their increasingly rocky marriage, they lived in Atlanta and Manhattan (while acquiring a Hamptons summer place) and the Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles. She left him and moved to New York in March 1992 with their 7-year-old daughter, Whitney.

Not surprisingly, Bruce Nathan’s friends remember Judi less than fondly. “She was a real opportunist, a real Becky Sharp character,” says a Nathan-family friend who shared Thanksgiving dinners with Bruce and Judi. “She was kind of cute, and Bruce was quite handsome—a rich trust-fund kid from Long Island. She was less sophisticated in those days. I think she really desired to be sort of the Junior League type. She basically struck me as having an inflated, self-important view of herself.”


[After the Nathans filed for divorce], she went on with her life, having various romances. One is said to have been with a French diplomatic staffer. For four years, she and Whitney and clinical psychologist Manos Zacharioudakis lived together in a one-bedroom apartment on East 55th Street.

Years later, after Rudy made Judith the third Mrs. Giuliani and launched his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Zacharioudakis rhapsodized to the Daily News about his former lover’s “passion,” “sensual” nature, and “Italian eroticism.”


The Giuliani-Nathan nuptials were a star-studded extravaganza at which the bride wore a bejeweled Vera Wang gown and a diamond tiara, Mayor Michael Bloomberg officiated, and the 400 guests included Wang, Walters, Beverly Sills, Yogi Berra, Joe Torre, Donald Trump and Melania Knauss, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, Mort Zuckerman and Henry Kissinger, even Cristyne Lategano-Nicholas.


In 2003, Judith posed in a cranberry bejeweled Carolina Herrera gown for the cover of the society glossy Avenue. She sported a huge Chopard brooch and Jimmy Choo shoes while reclining languidly in her so-called Moroccan sitting room. From the magazine’s excitable perspective, the Giulianis had “created their own Chartwell,” the name of Sir Winston Churchill’s country house, on the Upper East Side. The article confidently predicted that Judith “could be the most stylish First Lady since another Upper East Sider, Jacqueline Kennedy.”


When I ran into Rudy at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in late April, he told me Judith skipped the event because “she’s up taking care of our daughter [Whitney] at Skidmore.” The locution “our daughter” was hardly calculated to repair his frayed relations with the biological children he shares with Hanover, especially 17-year-old Trinity-prep-school senior Caroline, who uses Donna’s surname and reportedly didn’t bother telling him when she was accepted recently by Harvard. (“In the next few months, Rudy really has to repair his relationships with Andrew and Caroline,” says a Republican strategist. “He can’t be the Republican nominee and have his kids estranged from him. That ain’t gonna cut it.”)

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