Rudy Giuliani Family History


Rudolph William Louis Giuliani, better known as Rudy Giuliani, was born on May 28th, 1944 to Harold and Helen Giuliani in Brooklyn, New York.  Rudy grew up in a working-class Italian neighborhood and attended local Catholic schools.  He did well at college and went on to study law at NYU.

He first made his mark as a Federal prosecutor in 1976 when the Washington Post reported:

“The trial catapulted Rudolph Giuliani to front-page status when, as assistant U.S. Attorney, he relentlessly cross-examined an initially calm Rep. Podell. The congressman reportedly grew more flustered and eventually decided to plead guilty.”

Seven years later, Rudy was appointed as the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.  He first gained national prominence by prosecuting a number of high-profile cases, resulting in the convictions of Wall Street figures such as Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken.  He also focused on prosecuting drug dealers and organized crime leaders.

On the basis of this prosecuting record, he was elected as Mayor of New York in 1993.

Here he won approval for his measures to clean up the city.  He had adopted a strategy of cracking down on relatively minor offences – such as graffiti, turnstile jumping, and cannabis possession – on the theory that this would send a message that order would be maintained.  The measures apparently worked as crime rates fell during his time in office.

The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001 pushed Rudy into the national spotlight.  He was on the scene right after the first tower was hit and had to run for his life when the second tower collapsed.  Later, he spoke words of reassurance to New Yorkers and to Americans. He became known as America’s mayor.

At that time Rudy’s career was at a height.  He took in an estimated $8 million in speaking fees alone in 2002. His spinoff outfit, Giuliani Capital Advisors, made $85 million in 2004. At one point he owned six homes, including a nine-room co-op on the Upper East Side and a house in the Hamptons.

From the public esteem he was held after 9/11, Rudy might have felt that his career would kick on.  It didn’t.  His run for the US Presidency bombed in 2008.  His private life became messy.  He drank heavily.

After advising Donald Trump during his 2016 Presidential campaign and his early administration, Rudy joined President Trump’s personal legal team in 2018.

He became a central figure in the Trump-Ukraine scandal which resulted in Trump’s first impeachment.  Following the 2020 Presidential election, he represented Trump in a number of lawsuits in Trump’s attempts to overturn the results.  He has since faced legal peril as a result of his false claims of voter fraud and potential bankruptcy as well.

The Giuliani Name

Giuliani is an Italian surname, derived from the Latin baptismal name Julius meaning “youthful.”  The English equivalent from the same root would be Julian.

It is a surname generally of northern Italy.  There the typical surname suffix is “i;” whereas in southern Italy it is “o.”   In Italy Giuliani is most numerous in Lazio where 25 percent live, in Lombardy where 12 percent live, and in Tuscany where 11 percent live.  The Giuliani numbers in Italy today are around 35,000.

There is a small village in Lazio, to the municipality of San Giorgio a Liri, with the name of Giuliani.  Its early presence as a surname in Lazio, in the town of Viterbo, was thought to have the man who became Pope John XXI in 1276.  However, it appears that he was in fact Portuguese, having been born Pedro Julião in Lisbon.

Some notable Italian Giulianis have been:

  • Veronica Giuliani, a mystic woman who had been born in Marche in central Italy in 1660.  She was canonized by the Catholic church in 1839.
  • Andreas Giuliani, a composer of church music who became choirmaster of Augsberg Cathedral around 1790
  • and Mauro Giuliani, a maestro on the guitar in the early 1800’s.

Italy and New York

Italy.  Rudy’s Giuliani forebears came from Montecatini Terme, a small town in Italy’s Tuscany region northwest of Florence.  On a hill overlooking the town was the village of Montecatini Alto dating back to medieval times.  Perhaps people lived up there at that time to avoid the pestilent diseases prevalent on the lower marshy ground.

Today Montecatini Terme is noted for its thermal springs.  By the early 1900’s the town had begun to attract visitors, including such notables as Giuseppe Verdi and Luigi Pirandello, to partake of its thermal waters.

You can still find the Giuliani name in Montecatini Terme, such as the Giuliani clothes shop on its main street. But Rudy’s forebears Rodolfo Giuliani and his sister Cesarira left the area in the late 19th century in order to seek their fortunes in America.  That was what many poor young Italians were doing at this time.

New York.  Rodolfo, a tailor by training, was just seventeen when he arrived in New York in 1899.  Eight years later, he married a dressmaker named Evangelina whose surname happened to be the same as his own.  The young couple moved into a six-room apartment on the third floor of a wooden building on East 123rd Street in Italian-American Harlem.

Rodolfo worked at home stitching custom-made suits while his wife left every day for grueling shifts at a garment industry sweatshop.  Rodolfo would often send his eldest son Harold out to deliver a finished suit. However, the boy could get easily distracted, often stopping enroute to play ball. When his father learnt about this, young Harold got a beating.

Much of Harold’s childhood was indeed spent on the streets of East Harlem, staving off boredom with stickball and other games. In 1923, at the age of fifteen, he dropped out of high school.  Soon he was arrested for burglary and sentenced to probation in New York City Children’s’ Court.

Worse was to come – according to the reporting by Wayne Barrett in his 2000 book Rudy: An Investigative Biography of Rudy Giuliani.  In 1934, when he was twenty-six, Harold was convicted of the armed robbery of a milkman.  The judge sentenced him to two to five years at Sing Sing state prison.  He ended up spending a year and four months there.

The Giulianis and The D’Avanzos

Marriage may have saved Harold from a life of crime.  He had first met Helen D’Avanzo back in 1930 and they had been seeing each other for a while.  They finally got married in 1936.

Although both were of Italian immigrant stock, they were potentially divided because Harold Giuliani was northern Italian from Tuscany and Helen D’Avanzo southern Italian from Naples.  Northerners typically looked down upon southerners as maybe no better than dirty peasants and criminally-minded.  In this case the divide was bridged, not just by Harold’s marriage to Helen but also by his sister Olga’s marriage to Helen’s brother William.

In New York at the time of the Great Depression, it was the D’Avanzo side which proved to be the more important for this young couple.  It was Helen’s widowed mother Adeline who gave them the financial support they needed at that time.  She owned the building in East Flatbush, Brooklyn where Harold and Helen, and later William and Olga, would make their home.

It took Harold and Helen eight years and one miscarriage to have a baby.  When Rudy finally arrived in 1944, they smothered him with attention.

Had marriage put an end to Harold’s mis-spent youth?  He had a contented home life.  His son Rudy would later say that Harold was a hard-working Brooklyn tavern owner, a “complete man” who taught him the “lesson of being honest.”

Three of his wife’s brothers who lived in the neighborhood – Vincent, William and Roberto – were policemen.  They should have kept him on the straight and narrow.

But there was a fourth brother Leo who could lead him astray.  Leo ran a loan-sharking and gambling operation out of a Brooklyn bar.  Harold worked there as a bartender (Leo allegedly also used him as muscle to collect unpaid debts).  In 1962 the two men were reportedly caught up in a mafia shoot-out over a loan-sharking dispute.  Leo got pressure from the mob, left town, and left his bar to Harold.

Crime was to be an ongoing issue for this side of the family.  Leo’s son Lewis, who had gone to school with Rudy, ran a major car theft ring.  In 1977 he was killed by FBI agents when he tried to run down an agent who had stopped him on a warrant for transporting stolen cars.  And this Lewis had a son Lee who faced prison time in 2020 for his alleged mobster activities.  Lee may have been upstaged here by his Albanian-born wife Drita who had appeared in the TV series Mob Wives. 

Rudy Giuliani’s Family Tree

  • Angelo Giuliani (b. 1853) m. Maria Serrini (b. 1861) in Tuscany, Italy
  • – Rodolfo Giuliani (1882-1946), moved to America
  • – Cesarira Giuliani (1887-1980), moved to America, m. Salvatore Peruggi
  • Rodolfo Giuliani, a tailor from Tuscany, came to America in 1899 and married Evangelina (Eva) Giuliani (1890-1970) in New York in 1907
  • – Harold (Aroldo) Giuliani (1908-1981) m. Helen D’Avanzo
  • – Marie Giuliani (1910-1971) m. Frank Scuderi
  • – Olga Giuliani (1914-1973) m. William D’Avanzo
  • – Charles Giuliani (1920-1975)
  • – Rudy Giuliani (1926-2012) m. Viola
  • Luigi (Louis) D’Avanzo (1885-1925), a barber from Naples, came to America around 1895 and married Adeline Stanchi (1888-1976) in Brooklyn around 1903
  • – Vincent D’Avanzo (1904-1968), policeman
  • – Felicia (Fanny) D’Avanzo (1905-1981) m. John Visconti
  • – William D’Avanzo (1907-1980) m. Olga Giuliani, policeman
  • – Helen D’Avanzo (1909-2002) m. Harold Giuliani
  • – Leo D’Avanzo (1913-1977) m. Veronica (son Lewis was shot by FBI agents).
  • – Edward D’Avanzo (1915-1988) m. Anna Froehlich
  • Harold Giuliani m. Helen D’Avanzo in New York in 1936
  • – Rudy Giuliani (b. 1944)
  • Rudy Giuliani m. Regina Peruggi, his second cousin (b. 1947) in 1968, divorced in 1982; rem. Donna Hanover (b. 1950) in 1984, divorced in 2002; rem. Judith Nathan (b. 1954) in 2003, divorced in 2019
  • – Andrew Giuliani (b. 1986) with Donna, m. Zivile Rezgyte
  • – Caroline Giuliani (b. 1989) with Donna



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Written by Colin Shelley

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