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Angelo Bruno (born Angelo Annaloro; Italian: [ˈandʒelo annaˈlɔːro]; (May 21, 1910 – March 21, 1980)[2] was a Sicilian-American mobster, notable for being boss of the Philadelphia crime family for two decades until his assassination. Bruno gained the epithets "the Gentle Don" or "the Docile Don" posthumously due to his preference for conciliation over violence in stark contrast to his successors.[3]

Angelo Bruno
Angelo Bruno.jpeg
Bruno and his wife, Sue
Angelo Annaloro

(1910-05-21)May 21, 1910
DiedMarch 21, 1980(1980-03-21) (aged 69)
Cause of deathGunshot
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery, Yeadon, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Other names"The Gentle Don", "The Docile Don"[1]
OccupationCrime boss
Sue Maranca (m. 1931)
AllegianceBruno crime family

Early yearsEdit

Born in Villalba, Province of Caltanissetta, Sicily, Bruno immigrated to the United States in his teens and settled in Philadelphia with his brother Vito.[4] The son of a foundry worker who after settling in South Philadelphia opened a small grocery store at 4341 North Sixth Street in Feltonville, Philadelphia. Angelo helped his father at the store until 1922, at the age of twelve when he first entered school, only pursuing education for a few years before dropping out of South Philadelphia High School to open his own grocery store at Eighth and Annin Streets in Passyunk Square, Philadelphia. Bruno was a close associate of New York Gambino crime family boss Carlo Gambino. Living with Bruno was a cousin of mobster John Simone. Bruno dropped the name Annaloro and replaced it with his paternal grandmother's maiden name, Bruno. His sponsor into the Philadelphia mafia was Michael Maggio, the founder of M. Maggio Cheese Corp., since bought up by Crowley Foods, and a convicted murderer with a national reputation.

Bruno was married to Sue Maranca, who he had known since childhood.[5] They had two children together, Michael and Jean.[6] Bruno owned an extermination company in Trenton, New Jersey, an aluminum products company in Hialeah, Florida, and a share in the Plaza Hotel in Havana, Cuba. Bruno's first arrest was in 1928 for reckless driving. Subsequent arrests included firearms violations, operating an illicit alcohol still, illegal gambling, and receiving stolen property.

Family leaderEdit

In 1959, Bruno succeeded Joseph Ida as boss of the Philadelphia family. Over the next twenty years, Bruno successfully avoided the intense media and law enforcement scrutiny and outbursts of violence that plagued other crime families. Bruno himself avoided lengthy prison terms despite several arrests; his longest term was two years for refusing to testify before a grand jury. Bruno forbade family involvement in narcotics trafficking, preferring more traditional Cosa Nostra operations, such as bookmaking and loansharking. However, Bruno did permit other gangs to distribute heroin in Philadelphia for a share of the proceeds. This arrangement angered some family members who wanted a share of the drug-dealing profits.

Bruno preferred to operate through bribery rather than murder. For example, he banished violent soldier Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo to the then-backwater of Atlantic City, New Jersey after he was charged with manslaughter.[7]

Later in his tenure, Bruno had to deal with the New York crime families' desire to operate in the increasingly lucrative Atlantic City gambling industry. The Five Families thought Atlantic City was far too lucrative for the Philadelphia family to get all of the action, although Atlantic City had long been regarded as Philadelphia's turf. Under longstanding Mafia rules, however, they couldn't set up shop in Atlantic City unless Bruno invited them–and Bruno wasn't willing to do so.

Rebellion and deathEdit

Angelo Bruno murder scene

Several factions within the Philadelphia family began conspiring to betray the aging Bruno. On March 21, 1980, the 69-year-old Bruno was killed by a shotgun blast in the back of the head as he sat in his car in front of his home at the intersection of 10th Street and Snyder Avenue in South Philadelphia; his driver, John Stanfa, was wounded.[8] It is believed that the killing was ordered by Antonio Caponigro (aka Tony Bananas), Bruno's consigliere. A few weeks later, Caponigro's body was found dead, battered and nude, in the trunk of a car in The Bronx.[9][10] The Commission had reportedly ordered Caponigro's murder because he assassinated Bruno without their sanction. Other Philadelphia family members involved in Bruno's murder were tortured and killed.

After Caponigro's murder, Philip "Chicken Man" Testa led the family for one year until he was killed by a nail bomb at his home. Testa's death resulted from an attempt by Peter Casella, Testa's underboss, and Frank "Chickie" Narducci, a capo, to become the Philadelphia boss and underboss. After Testa's death, Scarfo took over the Philadelphia family. In the ensuing years, the Philadelphia family would be decimated by government informants, more infighting, and the prosecutions of Scarfo and other mobsters.

In February 2016, author and historian Celeste Morello began an effort to designate Bruno's home a historical landmark.[11] In March 2016, a historical landmark advisory committee ruled against the request.[12]

In popular cultureEdit

Bruno is portrayed by actor Chazz Palminteri in the 2015 film Legend and played by Harvey Keitel in the 2019 Martin Scorsese film The Irishman.[13]


  1. ^ Volk, Steve. "The Godfather's Daughter". Philadelphia Magazine. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  2. ^ "From Sabella to Merlino: Five Philadelphia mob bosses who impacted Pennsylvania and New Jersey". 2016-10-12. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-02-11. Retrieved 2017-11-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Dickson, Mike (2018-09-27). "Philadelphia Mob Boss Angelo Bruno". American Mafia History. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  5. ^ "Sue Bruno, widow of mob boss, dies at 94". Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  6. ^ "Sue Bruno, widow of mob boss, dies at 94". Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  7. ^ "Nicky Scarfo, Mob Boss Who Plundered Atlantic City in the '80s, Dies at 87". January 17, 2017.
  8. ^ Ledbetter, Les (March 22, 1980). "Reputed Leader In Mob Is Killed In Philadelphia; Angelo Bruno Shot Dead in Auto Outside Home A Record of Arrests" – via
  10. ^ "No Headline -". May 24, 2015.
  11. ^ Allyn, Bobby. "Philly historical commission gets offer it can refuse – preserving home of slain mob boss..." Archived from the original on 2017-08-08. Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  12. ^ "Committee Rejects Philly Mob Boss' Home As Historical Landmark". Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  13. ^ "The Irishman Photos: On set of Scorsese's new Mafia movie". October 17, 2017. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
  • Blood and Honor: Inside the Scarfo Mob - The Mafia's Most Violent Family by George Anastasia, 2003, ISBN 0-940159-86-4
  • Bureau of Narcotics, U.S. Treasury Department, "Mafia: the Government's Secret File on Organized Crime", HarperCollins Publishers 2007 ISBN 0-06-136385-5

Further readingEdit

  • Morello, Celeste Anne. Book One Before Bruno: The History of the Mafia and La Cosa Nostra in Philadelphia. Publication date: 4/28/2000, ISBN 9780967733418
  • Morello, Celeste Anne. Book Two Before Bruno: The History of the Philadelphia Mafia, 1931-1946. Publication date: 11/28/2001, ISBN 9780967733425
  • Morello, Celeste Anne. Book Three Before Bruno and How He Became Boss: The History of the Philadelphia Mafia, Book 3--1946-1959. Publication date: 8/28/2005, ISBN 9780977053209

External linksEdit

American Mafia
Preceded by
Joseph Ida
Philadelphia crime family

Succeeded by
Philip Testa