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Vincent Impellitteri Dies; Beat N.Y. Political Machine

February 06, 1987|From Times Wire Services

NEW YORK — Vincent Impellitteri, the immigrant son of a Sicilian shoemaker who bested the powerful Tammany Hall political machine to win election as mayor of New York, died Jan. 29 of heart failure in a Bridgeport, Conn., hospital. He was 86.

Impellitteri, who rose through New York's partisan political ranks with an independence unusual in those days, was elected City Council president in 1945 and reelected in 1949.

He became acting mayor after Mayor William O'Dwyer resigned in 1950 amid a corruption scandal to accept President Harry S. Truman's appointment as ambassador to Mexico.

Ran as Independent

In a special election to fill the remaining three years of O'Dwyer's term, from 1950 to 1953, Impellitteri failed to win the nomination of the Tammany Hall-controlled Democratic Party but ran as an independent on what he called the Experience Ticket.

With the assistance of the powerful Robert Moses, Impellitteri won without the Democratic machine, receiving 1,240,351 votes to 937,060 for Judge Ferdinand Pecora, candidate of the Democratic and Liberal parties, 382,795 for Republican Edward Corsi and 149,182 for Paul Ross.

In 1953, Impellitteri--who relied heavily on Moses' ideas about city spending and construction--sought reelection but lost in the Democratic primary to Manhattan Borough President Robert Wagner. Impellitteri again tried to mount an independent candidacy but was ruled off the ballot when a court found that he had filed fewer than the required number of signatures on his nomination petition.

Became a Judge

In 1954, Mayor Wagner named Impellitteri as a Special Sessions judge. He later became a Criminal Court judge, and retired in 1965.

Impellitteri and his family immigrated to the United States from Sicily and lived on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Impellitteri served as a radio operator on a destroyer in World War I, and later put himself through Fordham Law School by working nights at a Broadway hotel.

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