John Zaccaro, raised in a traditional Italian-American family in Brooklyn, did not want Geraldine Ferraro to work when they were married 24 years ago. Now he is used to being called 'Mr. Ferraro.'
A wealthy New York real estate developer and investor, Zaccaro, 51, is proud of his wife's career as a teacher and prosecutor, a congresswoman from Queens and now as the first woman vice presidential nominee of a major political party.
He is used to being called 'Mr. Ferraro' -- his wife hates it.
A man of medium build with straight black hair, an olive complexion and dark, heavy-lidded eyes, Zaccaro admits to having some reservations about his wife's campaign for the vice presidency.
'If I told you I knew what I was getting into, I'd be lying,' Zaccaro said one day before his wife's nomination. 'We'll just wait and see.'
Zaccaro -- a private man -- has refused to move to Washington, preferring to be close to his work in New York, and said he plans no move to the nation's capital if his wife does become the first woman vice president.
'I'll go down there on weekends,' he said. 'I want to feel free enough to do what I want to do.'
As a three-term member of the House, Ms. Ferraro, 48, flies home to New York on weekends and her husband occasionally makes campaign rounds with her. When she is working in Washington, Zaccaro tends to their home and likes to watch New York Rangers hockey games.
Planning to stay out of the vice presidential race, he waived Secret Service protection and maintains he will refuse it even if his wife is elected in November.
'I can't have it,' he said. 'In my business, I see people all the time and to have four or five people around me all the time, who would want to see me?'
As a young man, Zacarro sought to carry on his family's ethnic traditions -- one of which was that the husband and father earns the living and the wife stays at home.
'I was real domineering then,' he said. 'But I've changed a lot.'
'When we were getting married,' Ms. Ferraro said, 'John said, 'Gerry, I don't want you to work.
'John, I'm a lawyer,' she recalled telling him.
'My mother never worked,' he argued.
She was not moved -- she uses her maiden name in honor of her working mother -- and countered, 'I just won't get married if I have to spend my whole life at home.'
They were married July 16, 1960, three days after she passed the New York bar exam.
Zacarro, a fourth-generation Italian-American, inherited his family's commercial real estate firm in lower Manhattan. He parlayed the business into a lucrative success, working as a real estate manager and developer primarily of properties in Soho and Greenwich Village.
Zacarro and Ms. Ferraro live in a luxurious Tudor style house in Forest Hills Gardens, an affluent pocket of the congresswoman's district. A housekeeper does most of the chores and cooking.
The couple also has a beach house on Fire Island and a winter home on St. Croix in the American Virgin Islands.
When Ms. Ferraro first ran for Congress in 1978, Zaccaro raised - or personally provided -- the bulk of her campaign funds.
They have three children, Laura, 18, who just graduated from the Spence School in Manhattan and is about to enter Brown University; John Jr., 20, a student at Middlebury College; and Donna, 22, who works as a financial analyst at Salomon Brothers.
The family attends Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church in Forest Hills.
Zaccaro said some people are surprised at his support for his wife's career.
'I don't have a special ego trip where I have to supercede or be above anyone else. I do my own thing. I'm happy with what I do,' he said. 'Why shouldn't she enjoy herself too? She's earned it.'
What he likes least about all the attention is the probing into his personal life. He said he would never endure questions about his childrens' sex life like the kind posed to Betty Ford when she was first lady.
'I don't enjoy those questions,' he shrugged. 'I tell them, 'It's none of your damn business.''