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(Book Review) Hollywood Godfather

Gianni Russo is best known by many people for his role in The Godfather as Carlo Rizzi, Connie Corleone's abusive husband who sets up Sonny Corleone to be murdered.  (Sorry if we gave away a spoiler there.)  However, it turns out that appearing in that classic film is only one of the many fascinating stories Russo has to tell, and he shares the others in his new book: Hollywood Godfather: My Life In The Movies And The Mob.  (Release date: March 12, 2019)

Russo grew up in a challenging home situation in Little Italy in the 1950's.  A chance encounter led him to meet famous mobster Frank Costello as a young boy.  That meeting brough Russo into a life where he would cross paths with many notable characters including other mob bosses, Frank Sinatra, actors and actresses (such as Marlon Brando and Grace Kelly), and other well-known names.  Readers will hear Russo's account of how he helped strike a deal between the mob and the Godfather producers to ensure the film's production.  There are a number of stories involving Sinatra (godfather to Russo's son) as well as Russo's description of his relationship with Marilyn Monroe.   He also discusses the mob and President John F. Kennedy, particularly Kennedy's assassination.

In addition to his work for Frank Costello and his Hollywood adventures, Gianni Russo also had a stint as a Las Vegas club owner.  That segment of his life probably could have filled an entire book by itself, especially when you learn what caused him to abruptly leave that world.  (Here's a hint:  It involves legendary drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.)  As if that wasn't enough, Hollywood Godfather also includes stories involving the Vatican and the Shah of Iran. 

The fast-paced book feels like it could be a sequel to Goodfellas.  One can almost hear Ray Liotta doing the narration.  Gianni Russo built an action-filled life with not much more than his wits and drive for success, and now he's turned it into an fascinating book.  If you're a fan of mob movies or behind-the-scenes looks at Hollywood, you'll enjoy Hollywood Godfather:  My Life In The Movies And The Mob.


Hollywood Godfather CoverA remarkable life story.  (pic via amazon.com)


  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (March 12, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250181399
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250181398


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