Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman ever to run on a major party presidential ticket in the United States. A Democrat, she was Walter Mondale
's running mate in 1984 in his losing race with incumbent Republican President Ronald Reagan
and his running mate George Bush
. Geraldine Anne Ferraro was born in Newburgh, near the Hudson River about an hour north of New York City. She graduated from Marymount College in 1956, and then from the Fordham School of Law in 1960. In the 1970s she was a lawyer and then an assistant district attorney in Queens County, New York, before winning a seat in the U.S. Congress from New York's 9th District in 1978. She was reelected to Congress in 1980 and 1982, and became known as a tough advocate for liberal positions, a colorful speaker and a proud Italian-American. (Her parents, Dominick and Antonetta Ferraro, were immigrants from Italy.) Her surprise selection by Mondale in 1984 was a landmark event, but didn't help the Democratic ticket in the end: the popular vote was about 54,167,000 for Reagan, 37,450,000 for Mondale. (The electoral vote was even worse: 525 for Reagan, 13 for Mondale, who carried only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia.) Ferraro later ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1992 and 1998, was a Fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government (1998-92), and co-hosted the CNN political talk show Crossfire
from 1996-97. Geraldine Ferraro was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (blood cancer) in 1998, and she died in 2011 after a long struggle with the disease. She published a memoir, Ferraro: My Story
, in 1985.