Weird Mafia Myths Popularized by the Godfather and Media
Weird Mafia Myths Popularized by the Godfather and Media

Weird Mafia Myths Popularized by the Godfather and Media

Khalid Elhassan - July 15, 2022

Weird Mafia Myths Popularized by the Godfather and Media
Paul Castellano. Pinterest

1. Betrayal Was and Remains Rife in the Mafia

Mafia boss Paul “Big Paulie” Castellano (1915 – 1985) was head of NYC’s Gambino crime family from 1976 until his passing. The son of a mobster in the Mangano family – forerunner of the Gambinos – who ran a numbers game, Castellano dropped out of school in eighth grade to become a hoodlum. By the 1950s, he had risen to become a capo. Although up to his neck in mob rackets, Castellano acted as if he was a legitimate businessman – an affectation that annoyed many of his hoodlum underlings, who had no delusions about their careers.

Weird Mafia Myths Popularized by the Godfather and Media
John Gotti, Paul Castellano’s successor as Gambino boss, leaving court in 1990. Rolling Stone

The disgruntled underlings of the Gambino boss included an ambitious capo named John Gotti. When Castellano failed to attend a prominent subordinate’s funeral in 1985, it offended many Gambinos, and disgruntlement soon grew into rebellion. On December 16th, Gotti organized a hit squad that waited for Castellano’s outside one of his favorite restaurants, Sparks Steak House, in midtown Manhattan. As Castellano exited his car, Gotti watched from across the street as the hitmen rushed the mob boss, and gunned him down.

Read More: John Gotti The Mafia Don Was Sentenced.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Annals of Crime – The Real Father of Organized Crime in America

Behr, Edward – Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America (1996)

Burns, Eric – The Spirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol (2003)

Burton, Turkus B., and Feder, Sid – Murder Inc.: The Story of the Syndicate (2003)

Capeci, Jerry – The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Mafia (2005)

Costanzo, Ezio – The Mafia and the Allies: Sicily, 1943, and the Return of the Mafia (2007)

Critchley, David – The Origin of Organized Crime in America: The New York City Mafia, 1891-1931 (2008)

Daily Beast – For 50 Years ‘The Godfather’ Has Sold Us a Beautiful Lie

Duggan, Christopher – Fascism and the Mafia (1989)

Encyclopedia Britannica – Anti-Saloon League

Gambino, Richard – Vendetta: The True Story of the Largest Lynching in US History (2000)

Gigantino, Anthony, La Salle University Digital Commons, The Histories, Volume 4, Issue 1, Article 3 – Il Duce and the Mafia: Mussolini’s Hatred of the Mafia and the American Alliance With Organized Crime

GQ, June 20th, 2019 – A Dirty, Rotten, Double Crossing (True) Story of What Happened to the Italian American Mob

History Collection – What It’s Like Growing up in a Crime Family

History Network – The Grisly Story of America’s Largest Lynching

Hortis, C. Alexander – The Mob and the City: The Hidden History of How the Mafia Captured New York (2014)

J Grit – Murder, Inc., The Syndicate’s Killing Team

Kavieff, Paul R. – The Life and Times of Lepke Buchalter, America’s Most Ruthless Labor Racketeer (2006)

Lupo, Salvatore – History of the Mafia (2009)

Mob Museum – Prohibition Profits Transformed the Mob

New Orleans Historical – Sicilian Lynching at the Old Parish Prison

NIH National Library of Medicine – Temperance and Prohibition in America: A Historical Overview

New York Times, November 14th, 1941 – Guards Demoted in Reles Escape

Orkent, Daniel – Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (2010)

Raab, Selwyn – Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires (2005)

Sifakis, Carl – The Mafia Encyclopedia (2005)

Washington Post, May 5th, 2017 – Five Myths About the Mafia