Gianni Russo is an American actor, singer, writer, and producer who has a net worth of $4 million. Russo is best-known for playing Carlo Rizzi in “The Godfather” (1972) and “The Godfather Part II” (1974). Gianni worked for crime boss Frank Costello as a teenager, and “The Godfather” was his first film. He has more than 50 acting credits to his name, including the films “Super Mario Bros.” (1993), “Striptease” (1996), “Any Given Sunday” (1999), and “Rush Hour 2” (2001) and the television series “Pacific Palisades” (1997) and “Prison Break” (2005).
Russo started “The Hollywood Godfather Podcast” in 2019, and he also writes and produces it. He wrote and produced the 1995 TV movie “P.C.H.,” and he wrote the 1996 film “For Which He Stands” and produced the 1995 television series “A.J.’s Time Travelers.” Gianni released the album “Reflections” in 2004, and he published the memoir “Hollywood Godfather: My Life in the Movies and the Mob” in 2019. In 2009, he launched Gianni Russo Wines, and he became the spokesman for Don Corleone Organic Italian Vodka in 2016.
Gianni Russo was born Gianni Vito Russo on December 12, 1943, in Manhattan, New York. He grew up in Little Italy and Staten Island. During his youth, Russo contracted polio and spent five years in a children’s hospital. He has said that he killed a pedophile who worked at the hospital when he was just 11 years old, stating, “I had no guilt because it was a matter of self-defense. He had abused lots of kids at the hospital.” Gianni started working for mafia boss Frank Costello as an errand boy at the age of 13, and he later got a job as a shampoo boy at a hair salon. Russo often shampooed Marilyn Monroe’s hair, and in his memoir, he claimed that he lost his virginity to Monroe when he was 15 and she was 33.
As he grew older, Gianni worked his way up the mafia ranks but soon abandoned the lifestyle because it was too dangerous. His underworld connections would become useful as producers began attempting to make a film version of the 1969 Mario Puzo novel “The Godfather.” The production was facing resistance from the Italian Anti-Defamation League, and Russo stepped in to serve as an intermediary between the movie studio and the organization, which was headed by crime boss Joe Colombo. Gianni was subsequently cast as Carlo Rizzi in the film alongside Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall. “The Godfather” won an Academy Award for Best Picture in 1973 and was preserved in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry in 1990 for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Russo briefly reprised his role in 1974’s “The Godfather Part II.”
Around the time he began his acting career, Gianni opened a restaurant/nightclub in Las Vegas called Gianni Russo’s State Street, but it closed in 1988. During the first decade of his career, he appeared in the films “Lepke” (1975), “The Four Deuces” (1975), “Laserblast” (1978), and “Winter Kills” (1979) and the TV movies “Goodnight, My Love” (1972) and “The Bait” (1973), and he guest-starred on “Kojak” and “The Rockford Files” in 1978. In the ’80s, Russo guest-starred on “The Greatest American Hero” (1981), “Riptide” (1984), “Wiseguy” (1986), and “Hunter” (1988), appeared in the TV movie “The Return of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer” (1986), and co-starred with Cybill Shepherd, Robert Downey Jr., Ryan O’Neal, and Mary Stuart Masterson in the film “Chances Are.” Gianni appeared in 1990’s “Side Out” and “The Freshman” and 1991’s “Out for Justice” and “Another You,” then he co-starred with John Ritter, Pam Dawber, and Eugene Levy in the 1992 comedy “Stay Tuned.”
Russo played Anthony Scapell in 1993’s “Super Mario Bros,” and he appeared in 1996’s “Striptease” alongside Demi Moore. In 1997, he starred as Frank Nichols on the Aaron Spelling-produced series “Pacific Palisades,” and in 1999, he co-starred with Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, and Dennis Quaid in the Oscar Stone-directed drama “Any Given Sunday.” Gianni appeared in the 2000 Nicolas Cage movie “The Family Man,” followed by “3000 Miles to Graceland,” “Harvard Man,” and “Rush Hour 2” in 2001. In 2002, he co-starred with Anthony Hopkins and Edward Norton in “The Silence of the Lambs” prequel “Red Dragon,” and in 2003, he played Alberto Gianini in the Academy Award-nominated film “Seabiscuit.” Russo appeared in the films “After the Sunset” (2004) and “Meet the Mobsters” (2005), and he had a recurring role as Gavin Smallhouse on the Fox series “Prison Break” in 2005. Gianni’s next role came in the 2013 film “Send No Flowers,” and in 2018, he appeared in the crime drama “Con Man.”
Gianni has fathered 11 children with 10 women and has admitted that he has been a “lousy father.” He was close friends with Frank Sinatra, who was the godfather of some of Russo’s children. When Gianni was 44, he killed a man who was “abusing his date” at Gianni Russo’s State Street. He said of the incident, “He came at me with a broken champagne glass and slashed my neck. So I shot him in the head and chest.” Police ruled that the killing was a justifiable homicide, and the victim turned out to be a member of the Colombian drug cartel who was working for notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar. A few days after the killing, someone started leaving dead salamanders and chickens in Russo’s apartment as well as surveillance photos of his daughter Carmen. Gianni traveled to Colombia to try to smooth things over with Escobar, and he was tortured by Escobar’s men. However, the torture ended when Pablo found out that Gianni had been in “The Godfather,” and he agreed to let Russo live if he re-enacted a specific scene from the film. Gianni has said that he has been indicted 23 times on various charges and has beaten every indictment.
|Net Worth:||$4 Million|
|Date of Birth:||Dec 12, 1943 (78 years old)|
|Profession:||Actor, Singer, Master of Ceremonies, Radio personality|
|Nationality:||United States of America|