Mario Puzo

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Mario Puzo (turned away from the camera) hugs his lawyer Bert Fields
Mario Puzo's signature

Mario Gianluigi Puzo ( pronunciation : [ ˈpuːzoʊ ]) (born October 15, 1920 in New York City , † July 2, 1999 in Bay Shore on Long Island ) was an Italian-American writer .

Known as the world's crime writer Mario Puzo was his novel The Godfather (English The Godfather ) from 1969, a Mafia -Familienepos showing the rise of an Italian Mafia family over a generation, and the eponymous film by Francis Ford Coppola . For the scripts for The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II , he and the director Francis Ford Coppola each received an Oscar in the category of best adapted screenplay .

Live and act

Puzo grew up in poor conditions in New York's Little Italy district . In his works he mostly dealt with his origins and the position of Italian immigrants in the United States . During the Second World War he volunteered and was also stationed in Germany as a soldier . After returning to the States, he attended evening classes at New York's The New School for Social Research and Columbia University on a GI scholarship for ex-soldiers .

Puzo published his first short story in 1950 and his first novel The Dark Arena in 1955 , which is set in black market circles in post-war Bremen. He wrote for magazines and was also a government employee at times. With his second novel Mamma Lucia ( The Fortunate Pilgrim ) he achieved his first success in 1965. The novel is set in Italian immigrant circles in New York during the Depression . In 1969 he published his bestseller The Godfather .

In 1977, his factual report appeared Inside Las Vegas , one year later he processed the player environment of Las Vegas in the novel fools die ( Fools The ). 1984 The Sicilian (The Sicilian) published in 1990 , the fourth K. ( The Fourth K ), a novel by another president from the Kennedy family. In 1996 Puzo wrote the novel The Last Godfather , in 2001 his last novel Omertà appeared , the novel The family remained unfinished. Puzo wrote next to the scripts to the Godfather films, the films of the earthquake (Earthquake) (1974), The Cotton Club (1984), Superman (1978) and Superman 2 (1980). Puzo also describes his experiences as a screenwriter in Hollywood in an autobiographical sketch.

In an interview with Larry King in 1996, he stated that he wrote both the book The Godfather and the scripts for it and later scripts only for financial reasons. He wanted to revise the godfather, but his publisher had already published the book. He considered the novel Mamma Lucia , which had previously appeared, to be his best work, but which earned him little money.

The film adaptations The Godfather , The Godfather - Part II and The Godfather - Part III have all been recognized with awards and seen over a billion times worldwide. According to Puzo, he himself suggested Marlon Brando for the role of Vito Corleone. He had called Brando beforehand because he did not agree with the suggested casts. Brando pointed out that no studio would hire him at the moment and that he should speak to the director if he was confirmed. Director Francis Ford Coppola then accepted Brando in the lead role. According to Puzo, he had no personal experience with the mafia milieu - the novel is based entirely on research, and Frank Sinatra was not a direct model after Puzo for the role of the singer Johnny Fontane . In the book, Puzo saw less of the thriller aspects than the family history. Puzo was less satisfied with the second sequel by the godfather, for whom Coppola also largely determined the script.

With his last work Die Familie (The Family) , Mario Puzo fulfilled a lifelong dream of writing the story of the powerful Renaissance family of the Borgia . In this work, however, Puzo does not stick to the established historical facts, but rather processes the myriad of anecdotes in the form of a novel. Aspects of the Borgia story were already incorporated into The Last Don , whose plot has nothing to do with that of the godfather. The name of the Clericuzio family in the novel was the name of his mother after their second marriage (and that of his siblings, who then shortened it to Cleri). His novel The Last Don became a 1997 TV series on CBS (with Kirstie Alley , Joe Mantegna ).

Puzo died while working on The Family at his Long Island home. The book was completed by Carol Gino, Puzo's assistant and partner for over twenty years, who had also worked on the research for the work. In 2012 the novel The Corleones was published , a screenplay by Mario Puzo completed by Edward Falco , which tells the story of the godfather in the 1930s and 1940s and was planned as the fourth part of the saga.

Puzo had five children from his first marriage, his daughter Dorothy Ann Puzo is the director of the film Cold Steel (1987). After his wife's death, he lived with Carol Gino, who saved his life as a nurse in 1978 in Las Vegas (Puzo was a passionate player). She recognized symptoms of impending angina pectoris and made sure that he had a check-up and bypass surgery.


Puzo received an Oscar in the Best Adapted Screenplay category at the 1973 and 1975 Academy Awards because he and Francis Ford Coppola wrote the screenplays for The Godfather and The Godfather - Part II . In 1990 The Godfather III came into the cinemas, for which Puzo wrote the screenplay again . For the script for The Godfather he received a Golden Globe in 1972 , for the scripts of parts 2 and 3 he was nominated for the Golden Globe. He also received a WGA award for the first and second part of the godfather, and in 1978 he was nominated for the WGA award for Superman .



  • 1955 The Dark Arena (German: The dark arena )
  • 1965 The Fortunate Pilgrim (German: Mamma Lucia )
  • 1966 The Runaway Summer of Davie Shaw (German: New York City 2950 miles )
  • 1967 Six Graves to Munich (under the pseudonym Mario Cleri)
  • 1969 The Godfather (German: The Godfather )
  • 1978 Fools Die (German: die fools )
  • 1984 The Sicilian (German: The Sicilian )
  • 1990 The Fourth K (German: The fourth Kennedy )
  • 1996 The Last Don (German: The Last Godfather or The Last Don )
  • 2000 Omertà (German: Omerta )
  • 2001 The Family (German: The Family , completed by Puzo's partner Carol Gino)
  • 2012 The Family Corleone (German: Die Corleones , completed by Ed Falco)


  • 1965 Test Yourself: Are You Heading for a Nervous Breakdown? (under the pseudonym Mario Cleri)
  • 1972 The Godfather Papers and Other Confessions (German: Die Welt des Paten. Confessions of the author for the book and film )
  • 1977 Inside Las Vegas (German: Las Vegas - Confessions of a Player )

Short stories

Puzo published his short stories under the pseudonym Mario Cleri.

  • 1950 The Last Christmas
  • 1964 John "Red" Marston's Island of Delight
  • 1964 Big Mike's Wild Young Sister-in-law
  • 1966 The Six Million Killer Sharks That Terrorize Our Shores
  • 1967 Trapped Girls in the Riviera's Flesh Casino
  • 1967 The Unkillable Six
  • 1968 Girls of Pleasure Penthouse
  • 1968 Order Lucy For Tonight
  • 1968 12 Barracks of Wild Blondes
  • 1969 Charlie Reese's Amazing Escape from a Russian Death Camp


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. and Christopher Columbus - The Discovery (1992), directed by John Glen. For this, however, he was nominated for the Golden Raspberry of the worst scripts
  2. Interview with Larry King 1996
  3. Interview with Larry King