Rudy Giuliani

New York's combative, controversial former mayor was born in 1944 in Brooklyn to a low-level mob enforcer, a fact he has never acknowledged in public. He got his B.A. from Manhattan College and his J.D. from NYU Law, and gained attention in the 80's for being an aggressive prosecutor who pursued organized crimes figures and white-collar criminals.

Giuliani narrowly lost his first bid at the mayorship in 1989 to David Dinkins, but had better luck in 1993. He ran on a platform that promised law and order and economic growth to a city still reeling from the Crown Height riots and a sharp recession. Giulani was, and still is, a very devisive mayor. His supporters will sing his praises to the tune of lower crime rates and an improved economy; his detractors will drone that these changes were in motion before Giuliani took over and that he was party to cronyism, such as appointing his former driver police commissioner.

Of course, everything changed after Sept 11th. A day before, his approval rating was below 50 percent and his political future was in doubt. Within weeks of the attack, he'd been dubbed him "America's Mayor" and had been named Time's "Man of the Year.". 9/11 allowed Rudy to reinvent himself. And the brand new storyline allowed him to reinvigorate his declining political fortunes

After Giuliani's second term, he launch a bid to run against Hillary Clinton for Senate, but had to drop out due to a diagnosis of testicular cancer. He spent several years after leaving office establishing himself in various ways in the world of finance (heard of Giuliani Partners or Giuliani Capital Advisors? Yeah, same Giuliani.) In 2007, with a cool $100 million in the bank, he launched a presidential bid that quickly went up in smoke as details of his private life-two divorces, estranged children-and his wishy-washiness on several key issues became apparent. He's been spending his time since lawyer-ing in Houston, speaking for $100,000 a pop, and vacationing in the Hamptons with his third wife.

[Image via Getty]