Ferraro died at Massachusetts General Hospital of complications from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer she's had for 12 years.
Ferraro was elected a U.S. representative from the state of New York in 1978. In 1984, she made history as the first female to run for vice president from a major U.S. political party. She and Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale lost to Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan and running mate George H.W. Bush.
Under the Bill Clinton administration, Ferraro served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
During the 2008 election, Ferraro came under fire when she said that Barack Obama's campaign was successful because he was black. She subsequently claimed she was being attacked for her views because she was white.
In 2008, Ferraro published a memoir, Framing a Life: A Family Memoir, that focuses on her early years with her mother and immigrant grandmother. She was a regular political commentator on Fox News and a co-host on CNN's Crossfire in the '90s.
She is survived by her husband, John Zaccaro, whom she married in 1960, and their three children.