La Guardia, Fiorello
Lawyer, mayor, and US representative, born in New York City, New York, USA. After working from age 17 to 23 in the US consulates in Budapest, Trieste, and Fiume (Rijeka), he served as an interpreter on Ellis Island while attending New York University law school (1910 LLB). After graduating, he began his long career of social activism, doing pro bono work for immigrants. In 1916 he was elected to the US House of Representatives (Republican, New York), which he left early in 1918 to serve in the armed forces in Italy. Resuming his seat later that year, he served in Congress, with time out to serve on New York City’s Board of Aldermen (1920–2), until he was elected to the first of three terms as mayor of New York (1933). His work for housing and welfare reform, as well as his ‘common touch’, demonstrated by his reading of the Sunday comics on the radio during a newspaper strike, earned him the love of millions of New Yorkers, who knew him as ‘the Little Flower’, an apt nickname since he stood only 5 ft 2 in. He was a maverick in many ways, as a Republican, despite his liberal philosophies, and an Episcopalian, though born to a Jewish mother and Italian father. After his mayorship he served as head of the US Office of Civilian Defence (1941) and director-general of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (1946).