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Hollywood Godfather

My Life in the Movies and the Mob

Gianni Russo, Patrick Picciarelli


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Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (3/11/2019)
Paperback (7/7/2020)
CD-Audio (3/12/2019)


Hollywood Godfather is Gianni Russo's over-the-top memoir of a real-life mobster-turned-actor who helped make The Godfather a reality, and his story of life on the edge between danger and glamour.

Gianni Russo was a handsome 25-year-old mobster with no acting experience when he walked onto the set of The Godfather and entered Hollywood history. He played Carlo Rizzi, the husband of Connie Corleone, who set her brother Sonny—played by James Caan—up for a hit. Russo didn't have to act—he knew the mob inside and out: from his childhood in Little Italy, where Mafia legend Frank Costello took him under his wing, to acting as a messenger for New Orleans mob boss Carlos Marcello during the Kennedy assassination, to having to go on the lam after shooting and killing a member of the Colombian drug cartel in his Vegas club.

Along the way, Russo befriended Frank Sinatra, who became his son's godfather, and Marlon Brando, who mentored his career as an actor after trying to get Francis Ford Coppola to fire him from The Godfather. Russo had passionate affairs with Marilyn Monroe, Liza Minelli, and scores of other celebrities. He went on to become a producer and starred in The Godfather: Parts I and II, Seabiscuit, Any Given Sunday and Rush Hour 2, among many other films.

Hollywood Godfather is a no-holds-barred account of a life filled with violence, glamour, sex—and fun.

Praise For Hollywood Godfather: My Life in the Movies and the Mob

"Gianni Russo walks the walk and talks the talk. What a life. Fascinating. A worthy read." —Robert De Niro, two-time Academy Award-winning actor

“Gianni Russo has seen a lot, done a lot, and tells it all. Amazing.”—Nick Pileggi, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter of Goodfellas

“Gianni Russo is a true character who has led a most colorful life.”—Gay Talese, journalist and New York Times bestselling author

"Recounting a life that reads like a narrative for a mob-movie script, a mobster, actor, and Las Vegas presence delivers numerous eye-opening revelations about national and world events...Russo is an engaging raconteur." —Kirkus Reviews

“In this robust, fast-paced memoir, Russo describes his life going from being a real-life mobster to landing a role playing one in The Godfather…[his] exhilarating memoir packs a punch.” —Publishers Weekly

"Russo tells a fascinating story about how a kid from New York’s Little Italy grew up to be a genuine mobster (and actor, singer, and restaurateur)’s a hell of a story either way, and Russo comes across as a hell of an interesting guy."Booklist

"Russo's writing style reads like narration from Goodfellas...Fans of mob movies and unlikely success stories will find Russo's account compelling." —Library Journal

St. Martin's Press, 9781250181398, 304pp.

Publication Date: March 12, 2019

About the Author

GIANNI RUSSO has appeared in more than thirty movies, been involved in the production of several others, and appeared in numerous TV shows. His most well-known roles include parts in The Godfather: Parts I and II; Goodnight, My Love; Lepke; Laserblast; Chances Are; The Freshman; Side Out; Another You; Super Mario Bros.; Any Given Sunday; The Family Man; Seabiscuit; and Rush Hour 2. His life-long association with organized crime has made him a witness to Mob history. He is also a singer, whose shows are sold out across the country.

PATRICK PICCIARELLI is a retired NYPD Lieutenant, Vietnam veteran and private investigator. He is the author of Street Warrior: The True Story of the NYPD's Most Decorated Detective and the Era That Created Him, and other books. He resides in Pennsylvania.