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Gianni Russo was a handsome twenty-five-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 up her brother Sonny, played by James Caan, for a hit. Russo didn't have to act - he knew the Mob inside and out, from his childhood in Little Italy, to Mafia legend Frank Costello who took him under his wing, to acting as a messenger to 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 (he was acquitted of murder when the court ruled this as justifiable homicide).
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 star in The Godfather: Parts I and II, Seabiscuit, Any Given Sunday and Rush Hour 2, among many other films in which he also acted as producer. Hollywood Godfather is his no-holds-barred account of a life lived on the edge. It is a story filled with violence, glamour, sex - and fun.