At Rest at Cypress Lawn: Joseph Lawrence Alioto (1916 –1998)

The young lawyer worked for the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department in the 1940s and then for the Board of Economic Warfare. He returned to San Francisco after World War II to launch an antitrust practice, representing Walt Disney and Samuel Goldwyn, among others. Joe Alioto became a millionaire.

He was inaugurated as mayor of San Francisco in 1968 and handily won another term in 1971. Alioto put his energy behind the development of three major building projects: the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART), the Transamerica Pyramid, and the Embarcadero Center.

Alioto delivered the nomination speech for Hubert Humphrey at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. There were rumors that Alioto would be selected as his running mate, but Humphrey tapped Sen. Edmund Muskie.

Humphrey and Alioto: Alioto ran in the 1974 Democratic primary for governor, finishing second behind Jerry Brown. After leaving political office, he returned to private practice.

Humphrey and Alioto: Alioto ran in the 1974 Democratic primary for governor, finishing second behind Jerry Brown. After leaving political office, he returned to private practice.

Joseph A 2      Joseph A 3

Alioto had five sons and a daughter with his first wife and a son and daughter with his second wife. His daughter, Angela Alioto, was a member of the Board of Supervisors for nine years and its president for two years during that tenure. She ran unsuccessfully for mayor on three occasions.

Factoids:

  • Alioto’s parents met on a fishing boat while escaping the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
  • In 1980, Alioto represented Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders in a landmark antitrust case entitled Los Angeles Coliseum Commission v. The NFL, which resulted in the Raiders leaving Oakland in spite of opposition by other owners.
  • A 1969 Look magazine article claimed that Alioto had business and personal ties to Los Angeles Mafioso boss Jimmy Fratianno. Alioto sued Look for libel and won a $450,000 judgment, proving that the magazine, desperate and on the verge of bankruptcy, conjured up the story. Alioto later claimed he had documents that showed the Nixon administration leaked disinformation to Look in order to stall his career.
  • In 1974, Alioto’s wife Angelina vanished, reappearing after 18 days to claim that she had taken off to “punish” her husband for neglect. During the time Angelina went AOL, she “toured” the missions of California as part of a self-proclaimed personal religious pilgrimage and then filed divorce proceedings in 1975.
  • Angelina is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma. Joseph has a cenotaph there — a name on the stone without remains. The following be the reason for such an arrangement. When he married for the second time in 1978, both Alioto and his bride had been previously divorced, which disqualified them from an official Catholic service. Instead, they were wed by an excommunicated Catholic priest who had been expelled from the Jesuits for advocating “pro-choice” and defying church orders. The grave of Mayor Alioto at Cypress Lawn is an unassuming marker, perhaps an indication that he hoped eventually to be moved to Holy Cross to join the rest of his first family.

Alioto’s final resting place is located at Cypress Lawn within Section D, Lot 468. Click here to view an interactive map of our Memorial Park.