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Louis Giovanni "Gianni" Russo (born December 12, 1943) is an American actor and singer. He is best known for his role as Carlo Rizzi in the 1972 film The Godfather.[1]

Gianni Russo
Louis Giovanni Russo

(1943-12-12) December 12, 1943 (age 75)
OccupationActor, singer
Years active1972–present


Life and careerEdit

Russo was born in Manhattan, raised in Little Italy[2] and Rosebank, Staten Island. After reprising the Rizzi character in a brief flashback scene at the end of The Godfather Part II, Russo went on to act in more than 35 movies, including Goodnight, My Love (1972), Lepke (1975, as Albert Anastasia), Laserblast (1978), Chances Are (1989), The Freshman (1990), Side Out (1990), Another You (1991), Super Mario Bros. (1993), Any Given Sunday (1999) and Seabiscuit (2003).

Russo claims that he started a fledgling career in organized crime working as an errand boy and mob associate for Frank Costello[1] as an adolescent but later abandoned the dangerous and volatile lifestyle of organized crime.

Over the years since the beginning of his career, Russo claims he has owned a Las Vegas restaurant called Gianni Russo's State Street (closed in 1988), dated Dionne Warwick for more than a decade, and defeated 23 federal criminal indictments on a variety of charges stemming from alleged organized crime associations.[1]

In 1988, Russo killed a man outside the Las Vegas club and casino he owned. When he tried to intervene to stop a member of the Medellín drug cartel from harassing a female patron, the man stabbed him with a broken wine bottle. Russo, a legal carry owner, pulled his gun and shot him twice in the head.[1] Russo was not charged with the killing because it was ruled a justifiable homicide. However, when Pablo Escobar heard about the death, he ordered a contract on Russo's life. The Colombian drug lord supposedly only cancelled it when he found out Russo had starred in one of his favourite films The Godfather.[3]

Russo is also a singer. In 2004, he released a CD called Reflections that pays homage to Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.[2]

Russo owns a wine brand, Gianni Russo Wines, which debuted in 2009. [4]

In 2019, he published his memoir, Hollywood Godfather: My Life in the Movies and the Mob.[5] According to his memoir was a friend and had a relationship with Marilyn Monroe.


Year Title Role Notes
1972 The Godfather Carlo Rizzi
1974 The Godfather Part II
1975 Lepke Albert Anastasia
1975 The Four Deuces Chip Morono - the 'Deuce of Clubs'
1978 Laserblast Tony Craig
1979 Winter Kills Co-Pilot
1989 Chances Are Anthony Bonino
1990 Side Out Dick Sydney
1990 The Freshman Maitre D' Gourmet Club
1991 Out for Justice Sammy
1991 Another You Carlos
1992 Stay Tuned Guido
1993 Super Mario Bros. Scapelli
1996 Striptease Willy Rojo
1998 Circles Howard Thomas as Jeremy's father
1999 Any Given Sunday Christina's Advisor
2000 The Family Man Nick
2000 Rope Art Sen. Bob Krause
2001 3000 Miles to Graceland Money Cart Guard
2001 Harvard Man Andrew Bandolini
2001 Rush Hour 2 Red Dragon Pit Boss
2002 Red Dragon Newsie
2003 Seabiscuit Alberto Gianini
2004 After the Sunset Clippers Fan
2005 Meet the Mobsters Paul
2013 Send No Flowers Johnny Pisano


  1. ^ a b c d Jacobs, Andrew (April 9, 2005). "His Big Break? The Corleones Killed Him; Godfather's Son-in-Law Is Singing, Selling and Enjoying Life". The New York Times. Retrieved March 26, 2008.
  2. ^ a b "About Gianni Russo". Gianni Russo. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  3. ^ "The Wild Story of the Real-Life Mobster Who Starred in 'The Godfather'". March 15, 2019.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Hollywood Godfather | Gianni Russo | Macmillan". US Macmillan. Retrieved March 20, 2019.

External linksEdit