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Mario Puzo

Mario Puzo

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Encyclopedia
Mario Gianluigi Puzo was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

 and screenwriter
Screenwriter
Screenwriters or scriptwriters or scenario writers are people who write/create the short or feature-length screenplays from which mass media such as films, television programs, Comics or video games are based.-Profession:...

, known for his novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

s about the Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

, including The Godfather
The Godfather (novel)
The Godfather is a crime novel written by Italian American author Mario Puzo, originally published in 1969 by G. P. Putnam's Sons. It details the story of a fictitious Sicilian Mafia family based in New York City and headed by Don Vito Corleone, who became synonymous with the Italian Mafia...

(1969), which he later co-adapted into a film
The Godfather
The Godfather is a 1972 American epic crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the 1969 novel by Mario Puzo. With a screenplay by Puzo, Coppola and an uncredited Robert Towne, the film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard...

 by Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He is widely acclaimed as one of Hollywood's most innovative and influential film directors...

. He won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay
The Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay is one of the Academy Awards, the most prominent film awards in the United States. It is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source...

 in both 1972, and 1974.

Biography


Puzo was born into a poor family from Pietradefusi
Pietradefusi
-History:According to some scholars, Pietradefusi lies on the site of the ancient Fusolae, a town cited by Livy as an allied of Hannibal during the Punic Wars, and which was later destroyed by the Romans....

, Province of Avellino
Province of Avellino
The Province of Avellino is a province in the Campania region of Italy. The area is typified by many small towns and villages scattered across the province; in fact only two towns have a population over 20,000; its capital city Avellino and Ariano Irpino....

, Campania
Campania
Campania is a region in southern Italy. The region has a population of around 5.8 million people, making it the second-most-populous region of Italy; its total area of 13,590 km² makes it the most densely populated region in the country...

, Italy living in the Hell's Kitchen
Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan
Hell's Kitchen, also known as Clinton and Midtown West, is a neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City between 34th Street and 59th Street, from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River....

 neighborhood of New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. Many of his books draw heavily on this heritage. After graduating from the City College of New York
City College of New York
The City College of the City University of New York is a senior college of the City University of New York , in New York City. It is also the oldest of the City University's twenty-three institutions of higher learning...

, he joined the United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Due to his poor eyesight, the military did not let him undertake combat duties but made him a public relations officer stationed in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. In 1950, his first short story, The Last Christmas, was published in American Vanguard. After the war, he wrote his first book, The Dark Arena
The Dark Arena
The Dark Arena is the first novel by Mario Puzo, published in 1955.The book follows Walter Mosca, an American World War II veteran who returns to Germany for his girlfriend, Hella...

, which was published in 1955.

At periods in the 1950s and early 1960s, Puzo worked as a writer/editor for publisher Martin Goodman
Martin Goodman (publisher)
Martin Goodman born on was an American publisher of pulp magazines, paperback books, men's adventure magazines, and comic books, launching the company that would become Marvel Comics....

's Magazine Management Company. Puzo, along with other writers like Bruce Jay Friedman
Bruce Jay Friedman
Bruce Jay Friedman is an American novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and actor.Raised in the Bronx by Irving and Mollie Friedman, Bruce Jay Friedman graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School. He then attended the University of Missouri as a journalism major, then served as a First Lieutenant in...

, worked for the company line of men's magazines, pulp
Pulp magazine
Pulp magazines , also collectively known as pulp fiction, refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick, and 128 pages long...

 titles like Male, True Action, and Swank. Under the pseudonym Mario Cleri, Puzo wrote World War II adventure features for True Action.

Puzo's most famous work, The Godfather
The Godfather (novel)
The Godfather is a crime novel written by Italian American author Mario Puzo, originally published in 1969 by G. P. Putnam's Sons. It details the story of a fictitious Sicilian Mafia family based in New York City and headed by Don Vito Corleone, who became synonymous with the Italian Mafia...

, was first published in 1969 after he had heard anecdotes about Mafia organizations during his time in pulp journalism
Journalism
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...

. He later said in an interview with Larry King
Larry King
Lawrence Harvey "Larry" King is an American television and radio host whose work has been recognized with awards including two Peabodys and ten Cable ACE Awards....

 that his principal motivation was to make money. He had already, after all, written two books that had received great reviews, yet had not amounted to much. As a government clerk with five children, he was looking to write something that would appeal to the masses. With a number one bestseller for months on the New York Times Best Seller List, Mario Puzo had found his target audience. The book was later developed into the film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

 The Godfather
The Godfather
The Godfather is a 1972 American epic crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the 1969 novel by Mario Puzo. With a screenplay by Puzo, Coppola and an uncredited Robert Towne, the film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard...

, directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He is widely acclaimed as one of Hollywood's most innovative and influential film directors...

. The movie received 11 Academy Award nominations, winning three, including an Oscar for Puzo for Best Adapted Screenplay. Coppola and Puzo collaborated then to work on sequels to the original film, The Godfather Part II
The Godfather Part II
The Godfather Part II is a 1974 American gangster film directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a script co-written with Mario Puzo. The film is both a sequel and a prequel to The Godfather, chronicling the story of the Corleone family following the events of the first film while also depicting the...

and The Godfather Part III
The Godfather Part III
The Godfather Part III is a 1990 American gangster film written by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, and directed by Coppola. It completes the story of Michael Corleone, a Mafia kingpin who tries to legitimize his criminal empire...

.

Puzo wrote the first draft of the script for the 1974 disaster film Earthquake
Earthquake (film)
Earthquake is a 1974 American disaster film that achieved huge box-office success, continuing the disaster film genre of the 1970s where recognizable all-star casts attempt to survive life or death situations...

,
which he was unable to continue working on due to his commitment to The Godfather Part II
The Godfather Part II
The Godfather Part II is a 1974 American gangster film directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a script co-written with Mario Puzo. The film is both a sequel and a prequel to The Godfather, chronicling the story of the Corleone family following the events of the first film while also depicting the...

. Puzo also co-wrote Richard Donner
Richard Donner
Richard Donner is an American film director, film producer, and comic book writer.The production company The Donners' Company is owned by Donner and his wife, producer Lauren Shuler Donner. After directing the horror film The Omen, Donner became famous for the hailed creation of the first modern...

's Superman and the original draft for Superman II
Superman II
Superman II is the 1980 sequel to the 1978 superhero film Superman and stars Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Terence Stamp, Ned Beatty, Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, and Jack O'Halloran. It was the only Superman film to be filmed by two directors...

. He also collaborated on the stories for the 1982 film A Time to Die and the 1984 Francis Ford Coppola film The Cotton Club
The Cotton Club (film)
The Cotton Club is a 1984 crime-drama, centered on a famed Harlem jazz club of the 1930s, the Cotton Club.The movie was co-written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, choreographed by Henry LeTang, and starred Richard Gere, Diane Lane, and Gregory Hines...

.

Puzo never saw the publication of his penultimate book, Omertà
Omertà (novel)
Omertà is a novel by Mario Puzo, published posthumously in 2000. It was first published by Ballantine Books. Omertà follows the story of Don Aprile's adopted "nephew" Astorre Viola. This is the final book in Puzo's mafia trilogy...

, but the manuscript was finished before his death as was the manuscript for The Family
The Family (novel)
The Family is a 2001 novel by Mario Puzo.The novel is about Pope Alexander VI and his family. Puzo spent over twenty years working on the book off and on, while he wrote others. It was finished by his longtime girlfriend, Carol Gino...

. However, in a review originally published in the San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
thumb|right|upright|The Chronicle Building following the [[1906 San Francisco earthquake|1906 earthquake]] and fireThe San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California, but distributed throughout Northern and Central California,...

, Jules Siegel
Jules Siegel
Jules Siegel is a writer and graphic designer whose work has appeared over the years in Playboy, Best American Short Stories, Library of America's Writing Los Angeles, and many other publications...

, who had worked closely with Puzo at Magazine Management Company, speculated that Omertà may have been completed by "some talentless hack." Siegel also acknowledges the temptation to "rationalize avoiding what is probably the correct analysis – that [Puzo] wrote it and it is terrible."

Puzo died of heart failure on Friday, July 2, 1999 at his home in Bay Shore, Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

. His family now lives in East Islip, New York.

Influence of Dostoyevsky


Puzo's favourite writer was Fyodor Dostoyevsky. He was deeply influenced by his books, particularly The Karamazov Brothers that he quoted in his books: The Dark Arena, Fools Die, The Fourth K, and The Family. The character Stefano Andolini in The Sicilian was derived from Dostoyevsky's major character Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky in The Possessed. And Luca Brasi came from Raskolnikov. Puzo referred Dostoyevsky as his "personal favourite" to the editor Jonathan Karp. Although Balzac is said to have influenced Puzo, it was really Dostoyevsky who influenced Puzo the most. And Dostoyevsky was also a Balzac as he began his career by translating Balzac's Eugénie Grandet in 1843.

Novels

  • The Dark Arena
    The Dark Arena
    The Dark Arena is the first novel by Mario Puzo, published in 1955.The book follows Walter Mosca, an American World War II veteran who returns to Germany for his girlfriend, Hella...

    (1955)
  • The Fortunate Pilgrim
    The Fortunate Pilgrim
    The Fortunate Pilgrim is a 1965 novel by Mario Puzo. It deals with the Angeluzzi-Corbos family, a family of immigrants living an adopted life in New York City. The head of the family is Lucia Santa, a wife, widow and mother of two families. It is her formidable will that steers them through the...

    (1965)
  • The Runaway Summer of Davie Shaw
    The Runaway Summer of Davie Shaw
    The Runaway Summer of Davie Shaw is a book by Mario Puzo, first published in 1966. The plot revolves around a boy named Davie Shaw, who is left with his grandparents for the summer while his parents take off on a round-the-world trip in celebration of their wedding anniversary. Davie has adventures...

    (1966)
  • Six Graves to Munich (1967), as Mario Cleri
  • The Godfather
    The Godfather (novel)
    The Godfather is a crime novel written by Italian American author Mario Puzo, originally published in 1969 by G. P. Putnam's Sons. It details the story of a fictitious Sicilian Mafia family based in New York City and headed by Don Vito Corleone, who became synonymous with the Italian Mafia...

    (1969)
  • Fools Die
    Fools Die
    Fools Die is a 1978 novel by Mario Puzo. Played out in the worlds of gambling, publishing and the film industry, Merlyn and his brother Artie obey their own code of honor in the ferment of contemporary America, where law and organized crime are one and the same. Set in New York, Hollywood, and Las...

    (1978)
  • The Sicilian
    The Sicilian
    The Sicilian is a novel by Italian-American author Mario Puzo. Published in 1984 by Random House Publishing Group , it is based on Puzo's most famous work, The Godfather. It is regarded as The Godfathers literary sequel....

    (1984)
  • The Fourth K
    The Fourth K
    The Fourth K is a novel by Mario Puzo, published in 1990. It is set during the Presidency of fictional "Francis Xavier Kennedy," nephew of John F...

    (1991)
  • The Last Don
    The Last Don
    The Last Don is a novel by Mario Puzo, best known as the author of The Godfather.The story alternates between the movie industry and the Las Vegas casinos, showing how the Mafia is linked to them both.-Plot:...

    (1996)
  • Omertà
    Omertà (novel)
    Omertà is a novel by Mario Puzo, published posthumously in 2000. It was first published by Ballantine Books. Omertà follows the story of Don Aprile's adopted "nephew" Astorre Viola. This is the final book in Puzo's mafia trilogy...

    (2000)
  • The Family
    The Family (novel)
    The Family is a 2001 novel by Mario Puzo.The novel is about Pope Alexander VI and his family. Puzo spent over twenty years working on the book off and on, while he wrote others. It was finished by his longtime girlfriend, Carol Gino...

    (2001) (completed by Puzo's longtime girlfriend Carol Gino)

Non-fiction

  • "Test Yourself: Are You Heading for a Nervous Breakdown?" as by Mario Cleri (1965)
  • The Godfather Papers and Other Confessions
    The Godfather Papers and Other Confessions
    The Godfather Papers and Other Confessions is a collective autobiography written by Mario Puzo, on his journey through writing The Godfather....

    (1972)
  • Inside Las Vegas
    Inside Las Vegas
    Inside Las Vegas is a non-fiction book by Mario Puzo, one of only two non-fiction works by this author. It gives an in-depth behind the scenes look at the world of gambling in Las Vegas. It was published in 1977....

    (1977)

Short stories

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

Screenplays

  • The Godfather
    The Godfather
    The Godfather is a 1972 American epic crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the 1969 novel by Mario Puzo. With a screenplay by Puzo, Coppola and an uncredited Robert Towne, the film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard...

    (1972)
  • The Godfather Part II
    The Godfather Part II
    The Godfather Part II is a 1974 American gangster film directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a script co-written with Mario Puzo. The film is both a sequel and a prequel to The Godfather, chronicling the story of the Corleone family following the events of the first film while also depicting the...

    (1974)
  • Earthquake
    Earthquake (film)
    Earthquake is a 1974 American disaster film that achieved huge box-office success, continuing the disaster film genre of the 1970s where recognizable all-star casts attempt to survive life or death situations...

    (1974)
  • Superman (1978)
  • Superman II
    Superman II
    Superman II is the 1980 sequel to the 1978 superhero film Superman and stars Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Terence Stamp, Ned Beatty, Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, and Jack O'Halloran. It was the only Superman film to be filmed by two directors...

    (1980)
  • The Godfather Part III
    The Godfather Part III
    The Godfather Part III is a 1990 American gangster film written by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, and directed by Coppola. It completes the story of Michael Corleone, a Mafia kingpin who tries to legitimize his criminal empire...

    (1990)
  • Christopher Columbus: The Discovery
    Christopher Columbus: The Discovery
    Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, a 1992 film directed by James Bond alumnus John Glen, was the last project developed by the father and son production team of Alexander and Ilya Salkind. It follows the events leading up to and including the voyage of Columbus to the New World in 1492...

    (1992)

External links

  • FreshAir Interview – Audio interview from Fresh Air
    Fresh Air
    Fresh Air is an American radio talk show broadcast on National Public Radio stations across the United States. The show is produced by WHYY-FM in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its longtime host is Terry Gross. , the show was syndicated to 450 stations and claimed 4.5 million listeners. The show...

    . Originally broadcast July 25, 1996.
  • Mario Puzo at the Internet Movie Database
    Internet Movie Database
    Internet Movie Database is an online database of information related to movies, television shows, actors, production crew personnel, video games and fictional characters featured in visual entertainment media. It is one of the most popular online entertainment destinations, with over 100 million...

  • Mario Puzo biography
  • The Official Mario Puzo Library
  • "Saying Goodbye to Mario Puzo", an affectionate recollection of Mario Puzo written by his friend Jules Siegel
    Jules Siegel
    Jules Siegel is a writer and graphic designer whose work has appeared over the years in Playboy, Best American Short Stories, Library of America's Writing Los Angeles, and many other publications...

     on being notified of his death.