10 Things You Didn't Know About Newt Gingrich

Interesting facts about the former Speaker of the House.


1. Gingrich was born on June 17, 1943, in Harrisburg, Pa., to Newton McPherson and Kathleen, his teenage mother. His parents were married only a very short time.

2. His mother remarried a strict but quiet noncommissioned Army infantryman. Gingrich spent much of his youth attending schools on military bases in the United States and Europe. A military career was not his chosen path, and during the Vietnam War he took student and family draft deferments.

3. Gingrich had a crush on his high school geometry teacher, Jackie Battley, and vowed to his high school friends that he would marry her. He made good on his intentions. He was a teenage student at Emory University in Atlanta, where Battley had taken a college teaching position, when he married her. They had two daughters, Linda Kathleen and Jacqueline Sue.

4. As a child, Gingrich dreamed of becoming a paleontologist. He even kept a cast of a Tyrannosaurus rex skull in his office on Capitol Hill. He borrowed the skull from the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum.

5. He received his master's degree from Tulane University and a Ph.D. in modern European history. The topic of the Ph.D. dissertation was the Belgian education policy in the Congo, 1945-1960. He taught environment studies and history at West Georgia State College.

6. After two unsuccessful campaigns in 1974 and 1976, Gingrich won his 1978 election to the House of Representatives at the age of 35. In 1976, he attacked the incumbent, a member of the House ethics committee, for being lax on enforcing ethics violations by congressmen. He lost that year by a narrow margin. Years later, Gingrich was involved in ethics scandals himself.

7. The Republicans won a majority in the House and Senate in 1994. Gingrich was easily elected speaker of the House, the first Republican speaker in 40 years. His reign lasted four years, and he then resigned from his House seat.

8. A few books on his recommended reading list are Shogun by James Clavell, Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, and The Godfather by Mario Puzo.

9. In 1999, he founded a consulting firm called the Gingrich Group to help companies going through transformational change. He is also the founder of the Center for Health Transformation, sits on various boards, and occasionally does political commentary for Fox News Channel.

10. He married Callista Bisek, his third wife, in 2000. Callista has worked on Capitol Hill since she graduated from college in 1988. She's currently the chief clerk for the House Agriculture Committee. The committee overseas issues involving food safety such as mad cow disease.