Gianni Russo

Gianni Vito 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
Gianni Russo and Michael J. Arbouet at the 2013 Liife Film Fest
Gianni Vito Russo

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

Life and career

Russo was born in Manhattan, raised in Little Italy[2]. 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 46 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 owned a Las Vegas restaurant called Gianni Russo's State Street (closed in 1988), and defeated 23 federal criminal indictments on a variety of charges stemming from alleged organized crime associations.[1]

In 1988, Russo killed a man inside 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 champagne 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, he was a friend and lover of Marilyn Monroe.


1972The GodfatherCarlo Rizzi
1974The Godfather Part II
1975LepkeAlbert Anastasia
1975The Four DeucesChip Morono - the 'Deuce of Clubs'
1978LaserblastTony Craig
1979Winter KillsCo-Pilot
1989Chances AreAnthony Bonino
1990Side OutDick Sydney
1990The FreshmanMaitre D' Gourmet Club
1991Out for JusticeSammy
1991Another YouCarlos
1992Stay TunedGuido
1993Super Mario Bros.Scapelli
1996StripteaseWilly Rojo
1998CirclesHoward Thomas as Jeremy's father
1999Any Given SundayChristina's Advisor
2000The Family ManNick
2000Rope ArtSen. Bob Krause
20013000 Miles to GracelandMoney Cart Guard
2001Harvard ManAndrew Bandolini
2001Rush Hour 2Red Dragon Pit Boss
2002Red DragonNewsie
2003SeabiscuitAlberto Gianini
2004After the SunsetClippers Fan
2005Meet the MobstersPaul
2013Send No FlowersJohnny Pisano


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