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Richard S. Castellano

actor , producer

Richard Salvatore Castellano was an American actor who is best remembered for his Oscar-nominated role in Lovers and Other Strangers and his subsequent role as Peter Clemenza in The Godfather.

Background

Richard Salvatore Castellano was born in the Bronx, New York to an Italian Catholic family.

Education

Student, Columbia University.

Career

According to Castellano's widow, he was the nephew of Gambino crime family boss Paul Castellano. The Godfather became the highest-grossing film up to that time. Castellano, along with several other cast members, became widely known from the popular film.

He spoke one of the film's most famous lines, "Leave the gun, take the cannoli," which he partially ad-libbed. He also had the line: "It's a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes." This is spoken in response to Sal Tessio, played by Abe Vigoda, bringing in a dead fish wrapped in Luca Brasi's bulletproof vest.

Castellano also appeared on television, playing the lead roles of Joe Girelli in the television situation comedy The Super (10 episodes in 1972). His real-life daughter Margaret Castellano portrayed his character's daughter Joanne. Castellano did not reprise his role as Clemenza in The Godfather Part II (1974).

He was reportedly excluded because Castellano and his agent insisted on having control over the character's dialogue. Director Francis Ford Coppola said that this was untenable, and wrote Castellano out of the movie. This account was disputed by Castellano's widow in a 1991 letter to People magazine.

Castellano said he did not have a part in the sequel because he did not believe that the character of Clemenza would become a traitor. He had other disagreements with Coppola, including confusion over how much weight he was expected to lose for the role. Bruno Kirby portrayed Clemenza as a younger man in The Godfather Part II. He had played the son of Castellano's character in The Super.

Castellano died from a heart attack in 1988 at age 55.

Achievements

  • Castellano gained worldwide fame for his role in Lovers and Other Strangers (1970), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. He achieved further stardom in 1972 for playing the part of Peter Clemenza, in The Godfather.

Works

  • Starred off Broadway in A View From the Bridge, 1965-1966. On Broadway in The Investigation, 1966, That Summer, That Fall, 1966, Mike Downstairs, 1967, Why I Went Crazy, 1968, Sheep on the Runway and Lovers and Other Strangers (Tony award nominee). Film appearances include A Fine Madness, 1966, Lovers and Other Strangers, 1970 (Oscar nominee), Night of the Juggler, 1980 The Godfather, 1972.

    Television shows include New York City Police Department, Incident on a Dark Street, The Super, Honor Thy Father, Joe and Sons, Gangster Chronicles.

Connections

Married Margaret Tiernan, 1953. 1 child, Margaret Castellano Moller. Married Ardell Sheridan.

spouses:
Margaret Tiernan

Ardell Sheridan.

child:
Margaret Castellano Moller Castellano