Corleone family

This article is about the fictional family portrayed in The Godfather books and films. For the real-life family, see Corleonesi.

The Corleone Family is a fictitious Sicilian Mafia family settled in New York City. The family was created by Mario Puzo and appears in his 1969 novel The Godfather. It is said that the Corleone family is inspired by the real-life Borgia family from Renaissance Italy in the late 15th century.

Compared with the real-life Five Families of organized crime, the Corleone family draws comparisons with the Genovese and Bonanno crime families.[1][2][3]

Early Corleone history

The Corleone crime family traces its roots to 1920, when Vito Corleone assassinated Little Italy's padrone, Don Fanucci, and took over Fanucci's territory along with fellow hoodlums Genco Abbandando, Peter Clemenza and Salvatore Tessio. Shortly afterward, he founded the Genco Pura Olive Oil Company as a front for his criminal activities. Around 1925, Vito formally organized the family, with Genco as his consigliere and Pete and Sal as caporegimes. They became the most powerful crime family in New York after defeating Salvatore Maranzano during the Olive Oil War in the early 1930s. It was during this time that Vito's eldest son, Santino, made his reputation and eventually became a capo himself. Upon becoming successful, the family moved to a compound in Long Beach.

Killing the Turk

In 1945, drug baron Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo's narcotics business proposal that Don Vito Corleone declines, nearly destroys the family. Sollozzo, believing Vito's eldest son Sonny Corleone wanted to accept the deal, has his men gun down Don Vito outside his office. He survives and is hospitalized. Sonny takes over as acting boss of the Corleone family. After a second assassination attempt on Don Vito, Sonny has Bruno Tattaglia assassinated. The situation further escalates when Don Vito's youngest son, Michael, murders both Sollozzo and corrupt police Captain McCluskey during a meeting in the Bronx, forcing Michael to flee to Sicily. This triggers the Five Families War, which claims Sonny's life. The still-recuperating Don Vito makes peace with the other families, realizing that his true enemy is Emilio Barzini, who wanted to crush the Corleones to become the most powerful Mafia don in New York.

Las Vegas

After Don Vito's retirement, followed by his fatal heart attack, the family business is taken over by his youngest son, Michael. He orders the assassinations of Moe Greene, Carlo Rizzi and Sal Tessio (although not in that order), along with the dons of the four other families, for conspiring against the Corleones. Following this, Michael moves the family to Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Michael attempts to legitimize the Corleone business, but is pulled back into crime after a failed attempt on his life by Miami gangster and Corleone business partner, Hyman Roth, attempting to halt the takeover of Las Vegas. Roth is eventually murdered. Michael's older brother, Fredo, was ensnared by Roth to conspire against the Corleones. At their mother's funeral, Michael sanctions the assassination of his surviving older brother.


By 1979, the activities of the Corleone family were nearly completely legitimate. Michael Corleone sold their interests in all casinos and hotels and invested only in businesses unconnected to Mafia activities. The underboss of the Corleone's criminal enterprise, Joey Zasa, resentful of the reforms, aligned with aging kingpin Don Altobello, and together orchestrated an assassination attempt on Michael Corleone during a meeting in Atlantic City.

Vincent Corleone

When in 1980, Michael appointed his nephew and Sonny's illegitimate son, Vincent Mancini, to be his successor  the Don of the Corleone family  he allowed him to change his name to Vincent Corleone. In return for this, Michael ordered him to end his relationship with Michael's daughter (and Vincent's cousin) Mary. Vincent assured him that he would.

Under Michael's mentoring, Vincent is remade into a new man  wiser, patient, and aware of his status as the new Don. However, he retained a violent streak, as evidenced in his first act as Don. With Michael's tacit blessing, he ordered the deaths of Gilday, Keinszig and Lucchesi in one mass slaughter. However, Mary was killed in a failed assassination attempt on Michael. Vincent quickly and ruthlessly killed Mosca, the assassin responsible. Michael was devastated by his beloved daughter's death. Vincent begins his tenure as The Godfather.

Historical leadership

Boss (official and acting)




The Bronx/Long Island faction

Brooklyn faction

Manhattan faction

Las Vegas faction

Miami faction

Known soldiers

Corleone family tree


  1. Robert W. Welkos. "Death threats? No. Risk? Yes.". L.A. Times. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  2. Bruno, Anothony. "The Bonanno Family". TruTV. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  3. Bruno, Anthony. "Fact and Fiction in The Godfather". TruTV. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
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