Sen John Warner (R-VA)

Is your surname Warner?

Research the Warner family

Sen John Warner (R-VA)'s Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Sen. John William Warner, KBE

Birthplace: Washington, District of Columbia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Dr. John William Warner and Martha Budd Warner
Husband of Private
Ex-husband of Catherine Conover and Dame Elizabeth Taylor
Father of Private; Private and Private
Brother of Charles Stewart Warner

Occupation: U.S. Senator from Virginia
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
view all 14

Immediate Family

About Sen John Warner (R-VA)

John William Warner is an American Republican politician who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1972 to 1974 and as a five-term United States Senator from Virginia from January 2, 1979, to January 3, 2009. He did not seek reelection in 2008. Warner was once married to actress Elizabeth Taylor. He is a veteran of World War II, and one of only five serving in the Senate at the time of his retirement.


John William Warner, KBE (born February 18, 1927) is an American Republican politician who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1972 to 1974 and as a five-term United States Senator from Virginia from January 2, 1979, to January 3, 2009. He did not seek reelection in 2008 and has rejoined the law firm of Hogan Lovells, where he worked before joining the United States Department of Defense. Warner was also the sixth husband to actress Elizabeth Taylor, whom he married before being elected to the Senate. He is a veteran of World War II, and one of only five serving in the Senate at the time of his retirement.

Early life and education

John William Warner was born on February 18, 1927 to John W. and Martha Budd Warner and grew up in Washington, D.C., where he attended the elite St. Albans School before graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School in February 1945.

He enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II in January 1945, shortly before his 18th birthday. He served until the following year, leaving as a Petty Officer 3rd Class. He went to college at Washington and Lee University, where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi, graduating in 1949; he then entered the University of Virginia Law School.

He joined the Marine Corps in October 1950, after the outbreak of the Korean War, and served in Korea as a ground officer with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. He continued in the Marine Corps Reserves after the war, eventually reaching the rank of captain. He then resumed his studies, taking courses at the George Washington University, and then receiving his law degree in 1953. That year, he became a law clerk to Chief Judge E. Barrett Prettyman of the United States Court of Appeals. In 1956, he became an assistant US attorney; in 1960 he entered private law practice and joined Kirkland and Ellis.


1.In 1957, Warner married banking heiress Catherine Conover Mellon, the daughter of art collector Paul Mellon and his first wife, Mary Conover, and the granddaughter of Andrew Mellon. The Warners, who divorced in 1973, have three children: Virginia, John Jr, and Mary. His former wife now uses the name Catherine Conover.

2.John Warner married actress Elizabeth Taylor on December 4, 1976. They divorced on November 7, 1982. Warner and Larry Fortensky were the only living former spouses of Elizabeth Taylor at the time of her death in 2011.
3.On December 15, 2003, Warner married Jeanne Vander Myde, a real estate agent and the widow of White House official Paul Vander Myde.

Political career

In February 1969, Warner was appointed Undersecretary of the Navy under the Nixon administration. On May 4, 1972, he succeeded John H. Chafee as Secretary of the Navy. He participated in the Law of the Sea talks, and negotiated the Incidents at Sea Executive Agreement with the Soviet Union. He was subsequently appointed by Gerald Ford to the post of Director of the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration.

Warner entered politics in the 1978 Virginia election for U.S. Senate. Known primarily as Elizabeth Taylor's husband, he finished second at the state Republican Party (GOP) convention to politician Richard D. Obenshain. When Obenshain died in a plane crash two months later, Warner was chosen to replace him and narrowly won the general election over Democrat Andrew P. Miller, former Attorney General of Virginia. He was in the senate until January 3, 2009. He was the second-longest serving senator in Virginia's history, behind only Harry F. Byrd, Sr., and by far the longest-serving Republican Senator from the state. On August 31, 2007, Warner announced that he would not seek re-election in 2008.

His committee memberships included the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Most important, as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he protected and enlarged the flow of billions of dollars into the Virginia economy each year via the state's naval installations and shipbuilding firms.

Warner was considerably more moderate than most Republican Senators from the South. He was among the minority of Republicans to support gun control laws. He voted for the Brady Bill and, in 1999, was one of only five Republicans to vote to close the so-called gun show loophole. In 2004 Warner was one of three Republicans to sponsor an amendment by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that sought to provide for a 10-year extension of the Assault Weapons Ban.

Warner was considered pro-choice and supports embryonic stem cell research, although he received high ratings from pro-life groups because he voted in favor of many abortion restrictions. On June 15, 2004, Warner was among the minority of his party to vote to expand hate crime laws to include sexual orientation as a protected category. He supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but he raised concerns about the most recent Federal Marriage Amendment as being too restrictive as it would have potentially banned civil unions as well.

In 1987, Warner was one of the Republicans who crossed party line to reject the nomination of Robert Bork by President Ronald Reagan.

In 1993, Warner refused to support the state GOP's nominee for lieutenant governor, Mike Farris. Farris was the only statewide GOP candidate to lose that year, but lost by a wide enough margin to make it questionable as to whether Warner's support would have made a difference. In 1994, Warner campaigned for a former state Republican Attorney General turned Independent candidate Marshall Coleman against fellow Republican Oliver North in North's unsuccessful campaign to unseat Virginia's Democratic Sen. Chuck Robb. North's loss to Robb was very close, with Coleman finishing in single digits and looking like a spoiler. This time, Warner's actions were seen as the direct cause of a fellow Republican's loss.

Because of his centrist stances on many issues and because of his 1993 and 1994 snubbing of fellow Republicans, Warner faced opposition from angry members of his own party when he decided to run for re-election to a fourth term in the Senate in 1996. Many of Virginia's staunch Republican voters began a "Dump Warner" campaign to try to deny him re-nomination.[citation needed] However, Virginia's GOP party rules allow the incumbent to select the nominating process. Knowing he would probably lose the nomination at a convention or caucus, where only party regulars would be voting, he selected a primary. In Virginia, primaries are open to all registered voters, so Warner encouraged Democrats and independents to vote in that primary. His strategy worked and he handily defeated Republican rival James C. Miller III for the nomination.

In the general election that year, Warner was expected to win in a cakewalk over relatively unknown (at that time) Democrat Mark Warner (no relation), who had never held elective office.[citation needed]The election turned out to be much closer than many pundits had expected. Mark Warner was able to tighten the race mainly because he took full advantage of the discontent with John Warner among conservative Republican voters (even garnering protest votes from some of them). Still, the close election provided Mark Warner enough momentum and impetus to successfully run for governor of Virginia five years later.[citation needed]

According to George Stephanopoulos, a former close aide to President Bill Clinton, Warner was among top choices to replace Les Aspin as the Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration. However, President Clinton selected William Perry. During Clinton second term William Cohen of Maine, another moderate Republican Senator, held this position.

During the 1996 United States Presidential election Warner served as a Senate teller (along with Democrat Wendell H. Ford) of electoral votes. Warner was among ten GOP Senators who voted against the charge of perjury during Clinton's impeachment (the others were Richard Shelby of Alabama, Ted Stevens of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Olympia Snowe of Maine, John Chafee of Rhode Island, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Jim Jeffords of Vermont, Slade Gorton of Washington and Fred Thompson of Tennessee). Warner and others who voted against the article angered many Republicans by their position. However, unlike Snowe, Collins, Specter, Jeffords and Chafee, the rest of the Republicans voted guilty on the second article.

As was the case in 1990, Warner faced no Democratic opposition in 2002, winning re-election to a fifth term in the Senate by a landslide over an independent candidate.[citation needed]

On May 23, 2005, Warner was one of 14 centrist senators (Gang of 14) to forge a compromise on the Democrats' proposed use of the judicial filibuster, thus blocking the Republican leadership's attempt to implement the so-called nuclear option. Under the agreement, the Democrats would retain the power to filibuster a Bush judicial nominee only in an "extraordinary circumstance", and three Bush appellate court nominees (Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen and William Pryor) would receive a vote by the full Senate.

On September 17, 2006, Warner has said US military and intelligence personnel in future wars will suffer for abuses committed in 2006 by the US in the name of fighting terrorism. He fears that the administration’s civilian lawyers and a president who never saw combat are putting US service personnel at risk of torture, summary executions and other atrocities by chipping away at Geneva Conventions’ standards that have protected them since 1949. Following the Supreme Court ruling on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which was adverse to the Bush Administration, Warner (with Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain) negotiated with the White House the language of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, suspending habeas corpus provisions for anyone deemed by the Executive Branch an "unlawful combatant" and barring them from challenging their detentions in court. Warner's vote gave a retroactive, nine-year immunity to U.S. officials who authorized, ordered, or committed acts of torture and abuse, permitting the use of statements obtained through torture to be used in military tribunals so long as the abuse took place by December 30, 2005.

Warner's "compromise" (approved by a Republican majority) authorized the President to establish permissible interrogation techniques and to "interpret the meaning and application" of international Geneva Convention standards, so long as the coercion falls short of "serious" bodily or psychological injury. Warner maintains that the new law holds true to "core principles" that the US provide fair trials and not be seen as undermining Geneva Conventions. The bill was signed into law on October 17, 2006, in Warner's presence.

In March 2007, after Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Peter Pace spoke out about his views on homosexuality and the military, Sen. Warner said, "I respectfully, but strongly, disagree with the chairman's view that homosexuality is immoral."

On August 23, 2007, he called on President Bush to begin bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq by Christmas in order to make it clear to the Iraqi leadership that the U.S. commitment is not indefinite.

On August 31, 2007, he announced that he would not seek a sixth term in the Senate in 2008.

Warner was a cosponsor of America's Climate Security Act of 2007, also more commonly referred to as the Cap and Trade Bill, that proposed to ration (cap) carbon emissions in the U.S., and tax or purchase (trade) Carbon credits on the global market for greater U.S. alignment with the Kyoto protocol standards and goals.

In September 2008, Warner joined the Gang of 20, a bipartisan coalition seeking comprehensive energy reform. The group is pushing for a bill that would encourage state-by-state decisions on offshore drilling and authorize billions of dollars for conservation and alternative energy.

In October 2008, Warner voted in favor of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

Current life

On December 12, 2008, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence awarded Warner the first ever National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal.

On January 8, 2009, the Secretary of the Navy announced it would name the next Virginia-class submarine after John Warner. USS John Warner (SSN-785) will be the twelfth Virginia-class submarine.

On February 19, 2009 the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., announced that Queen Elizabeth II would name John Warner an honorary Knight Commander for his work strengthening the American-British military alliance.[citation needed] As a person who is not a British citizen (or a citizen of a country which acknowledges the British monarch as their own monarch), the title of Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire only allows Warner to put the Post-nominal letters KBE after his name.

view all

Sen John Warner (R-VA)'s Timeline

February 18, 1927
Washington, District of Columbia, United States