Nelson RockefellerNelson Aldrich Rockefeller (July 8, 1908 - January 26, 1979) was a Governor of New York and Vice President of the United States of America.
He was the son of John Davison Rockefeller, Jr, the grandson of John Davison Rockefeller, Sr and Senator Nelson W. Aldrich of Rhode Island (for whom he was named), the brother of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller of Arkansas, and the uncle of Governor and Senator John Davison Rockefeller, IV of West Virginia. Nelson Rockefeller was born on the same day as his paternal grandfather, and from childhood was the leader of the five Rockefeller brothers.
He served as governor of New York from 1959 to 1973 (elected to four terms, he served three and a half), and then as the 41st Vice President of the United States of America under Gerald Ford (1974-1977).
Rockefeller's dream was the presidency; he spent millions in attempts in 1960, 1964, and 1968. Rockefeller was considered the front-runner for the 1964 campaign, but his divorce and quick remarriage to a woman (who had until then been married to someone else) twenty years his junior turned many people off. The divorce/remarriage and conservative surge gave the nomination to Barry Goldwater of Arizona.
As governor of New York, he pushed for extremely strict laws against possession of drugs; these laws, still in force, mandate longer prison sentences for drug possession than for most other felonies. He was considered one of the leaders of the moderate wing of the Republican Party of the United States, and is hailed as an example of one of the chief figures of the "1960s and 1970s Republican" movement.
Rockefeller was a great collector of modern art. He continued his mother's work at the Museum of Modern Art and turned the basement of his Kykuit mansion into a first-class museum. While he was overseeing construction of the State University of New York system, he agreed with his lifelong friend Roy Neuberger to build a museum on the campus of SUNY Purchase College. The Neuberger Museum, designed by Philip Johnson, hosted several paintings collected by Neuberger and helped popularize several artists. His decision to pay and then destroy Diego Rivera's mural at Rockefeller Center is still controversial.
Rockefeller suffered a heart attack during sexual intercourse with his mistress Megan Marshak. Marshak was afraid to call the police and so left him on the floor of his apartment, where he may have lingered for minutes if not hours, still alive and it is believed that had Marshak called an ambulance promptly Rockefeller may have survived.