RIP, Ed Koch. The unforgettable New York City mayor, who served three terms from 1977 to 1986, died on Friday (Feb. 1) at 2 a.m., his spokesman confirmed to media outlets. Beloved for his trademark Bronx accent, in-your-face demeanor and his typical "How'm I doin?" greeting, Koch suffered congestive heart failure late Thursday, and passed away in intensive care at a local hospital. He was 88 years old.
Koch began his career as an attorney who entered the political realm in the early 1960. He became a U.S. congressman in 1968 -- successfully running for mayor in 1977 and remaining at the helm of the Big Apple from 1978 to 1989, when David Dinkins succeeded him.
Said current mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement: "In elected office and as a private citizen, he was our most tireless, fearless, and guileless civic crusader . . . We will miss him dearly, but his good works -- and his wit and wisdom -- will forever be a part of the city he loved so much."
Remaining a nationally recognized personality following his mayoral tenure, Koch returned to practicing law but also hosted a radio show, wrote a newspaper column and made many TV cameos as himself on shows like Sex and the City, Spin City and Picket Fences. He even served as a TV judge for two years on The People's Court, and, in his later years, penned movie reviews for his site mayorkoch.com.
"I think my personality was helpful in this job. I always had a great sense of humor, though I am also pretty reserved personally," he reasoned to New York magazine in 1998. "I mean, I don't go to chichi parties; never did. I don't like going to dinners other than small dinners at the homes of people. But I realized that if I was to harness the energies of the people of the city of New York and give them back their pride, I would have to become bigger than life. And I did."
Koch also had his critics -- many of whom decried his lack of support for LGBT causes and the burgeoning AIDS crisis. But the lifelong, never-married bachelor never publicly discussed his sexuality.
"Listen, there's no question that some New Yorkers think I'm gay, and voted for me nevertheless. The vast majority don't care, and others don't think I am. And I don't give a s*** either way!" he told New York.