24 May 2019

Wise guy. From the Mafia to The Godfather: Gianni Russo

From Nine To Noon, 10:06 am on 24 May 2019

Gianni Russo didn't need acting experience for the role he's best known for - Carlo Rizzi, the husband of Connie Corleone, in the iconic 1972 film The Godfather. That's because he began working  in organized crime from the tender age of 13 as an errand boy for crime legend Frank Costello.

Today he ranks among the few golden-age wise guys who hasn't been killed or thrown in jail.

He talks to Kathryn Ryan about his colourful life including the unique way he started out in Hollywood and why he thinks the mob was behind the JKF assassination.

"I put my arm around Brando to walk him out of earshot of the whole cast who was sitting there, because I didn't want to embarrass the guy. So soon as I got out of earshot in the back of the room, I got right in his face. I said 'let me just tell you something Mr. Brando, out of all due respect, I know who you are. but you screw this up for me, and you get me fired, I will suck on your heart, you hear me? You will bleed out right here today'. And he looked at me, he stepped back, he said that was brilliant. He thought I was acting."

"I'm the only person in the world that could say Marlon Brando was my only acting teacher, Frank Sinatra was my only singing teacher and Marilyn Monroe made me a man. Nobody could say that."