Mafia Wiki
Mafia Wiki

Carlo "Don Carlo" Gambino (August 24, 1902 – October 15, 1976) also known as "The Godfather", "Don Carlo", "The King of the United States Underworld", "The Dictator of New York City" and "The King of the American Mafia" was an Italian-born American mafia boss, notable for being boss of the Gambino crime family, that still bears his name today. Gambino ruled his crime family for 20 years, during his reign, he ruled New York with an iron fist, and was the most powerful and dangerous mob boss in the country. He was one of several national bosses gathering at the 1957 Apalachin Convention. Gambino was known for being low-key and secretive. He lived to the age of 74, when he died of a heart attack in his bed "in a state of grace", according to a priest who had given him the Last Rites of the Catholic Church. He had two brothers, Gaspare Gambino, who later married and was never involved with the Mafia, and Paolo Gambino who, on the other hand, had a big role in his brother's family.

Early life

Carlo Gambino was born in the city of Palermo, Sicily, in 1902, to a family that belonged to the Honored Society, a gang from Passo di Rigano, which belonged to the Sicilian Mafia.[1] The Honored Society was slightly more complicated than the Black Hand of America, which was often confused with the American Mafia. The Black Hand, much like the pre-1920s Mafia, was a highly disorganized version of the real European Mafia. Once Benito Mussolini chased a large number of real mafiosi out of Italy, Italian-Americans such as Gambino benefited from the new, better-organized Mafia. Gambino began carrying out murder orders for new Mob bosses in his teens. In 1921, at the age of 19, he became a "made man" and was inducted into Cosa Nostra. He was later known as an "original." He was the brother-in-law of Sicilian Gambino crime family mobster Paul Castellano.


Gambino entered the United States as an illegal immigrant, a stowaway on a shipping boat, the SS Vincenzo Florio.[2] He then joined his cousins, the Castellanos, in New York City. He had worked for a small trucking firm owned by his uncle's family.[3] He ate nothing but anchovies and wine during the month long trip and joined his cousins, the Castellanos, in New York City. There he joined a crime family headed by Salvatore D'Aquila, one of the larger crime families in the city. Gambino's uncle, Giuseppe Castellano, also joined the D'Aquila family around this time.

Gambino also became involved with the "Young Turks", a group of Americanized Italian and Jewish mobsters in New York which included Frank "Prime Minister" Costello, Albert Anastasia, Frank Scalice, Settimo Accardi, Gaetano "Tommy Three-Finger Brown" Lucchese, Joe Adonis, Vito Genovese, Meyer Lansky, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, Mickey Cohen, and Charles "Lucky" Luciano, one of the future's most powerful Mob bosses. The crew became involved in robbery, thefts, and illegal gambling. But with their new partner, Arnold Rothstein, they turned to bootlegging during Prohibition in the early 1920s. Gambino also made a sizable profit during World War II by bribing Office of Price Administration (OPA) officials for ration stamps, which he then sold on the black market.

The Castellammarese War

By 1926, Luciano was considered to be a powerful gangster on the rise. Luciano's immediate superior, Giuseppe Masseria, was coming into conflict with Salvatore Maranzano, a recent arrival from Palermo who was born in Castellammare del Golfo. When Salvatore Maranzano arrived in New York in 1925, his access to money and manpower led him to become involved in extortion and gambling operations that directly competed with Masseria. On October 10, 1928, Joe Masseria eliminated Salvatore D'Aquila, his top rival for the coveted title of "Boss of Bosses." However, Masseria still had to deal with the powerful and influential Maranzano and his Castellammarese clan. Gambino was thrown right into the line of fire.

Masseria demanded absolute loyalty and obedience from the other criminals in his area and killed anyone who gave him less than that on the spot. In 1930, Masseria demanded a $10,000 tribute from Maranzano's then boss, Nicola "Cola" Schiro, and supposedly got it. Schiro fled New York in fear, leaving Maranzano as the new leader. By 1931, a series of killings in New York involving Castellammarese clan members and associates caused Maranzano and his family to declare war against Joe Masseria and his allies. D'Aquila's family, now headed by Alfred Mineo, sided with Masseria. In addition to Gambino, other prominent members of this family included Luciano associates Albert Anastasia and Frank Scalise. The Castellammarese clan included Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno and Stefano Magaddino, the Profaci crime family, which included Joe Profaci and Joseph Magliocco – Bonanno's cousin – along with former Masseria allies the Reina family, which included Gaetano "Tom" Reina, Tommaso "Tommy" Gagliano, and Gaetano "Tommy" Lucchese.

The Castellammarese War raged on between the Masseria and Maranzano factions for almost four years. This internal war devastated the Prohibition-era operations and street rackets that the five New York families controlled along with the Irish and Jewish crime groups. The war cut into gang profits and in some cases completely destroyed the profitable rackets of crime family members.

Several Young Turks on both sides started realizing that if the war did not stop soon, the Italian crime families could be left on the fringe of New York's criminal underworld while the Jewish and Irish crime bosses became dominant. Additionally, they felt that Masseria, Maranzano and other old-school mafiosi, whom they derisively called "Mustache Petes", were too greedy to see the riches that could be had by working with non-Italians. With this in mind, Gambino and the other Young Turks decided to end the Castellammarese War and form a national syndicate. On April 15, 1931, Giuseppe Masseria was gunned down at Nuova Villa Tammaro restaurant in Coney Island by Luciano associates Albert Anastasia, Joe Adonis, Vito Genovese, and Bugsy Siegel. Maranzano then named himself capo di tutti capi (boss of bosses). In the major reorganization of the New York Mafia that resulted, Vincent Mangano took over the Mineo family, with Albert Anastasia as his underboss and Carlo Gambino as a capo. They kept these posts after Salvatore Maranzano was fatally stabbed and shot on September 10, 1931.

The Commission

In 1931, after the killings of Masseria and Maranzano, Luciano created the Commission, which was supposed to avoid big conflicts like the Castellammarese War. The charter members were Charles Luciano, Joseph Bonanno, Joe Profaci, Tommy Gagliano, and Vincent Mangano.

Gambino married his first cousin, Catherine Castellano, in 1932, at age 30. They raised three sons and a daughter. Gambino became a major earner in the Mangano family. His activities included loansharking, illegal gambling and protection money from area merchants. Despite this, Gambino was low-key by inclination. He lived in a modest, well-kept row house in Brooklyn.

Vincent and Philip Mangano

Vincent Mangano led his family for 20 years, even though he and Albert Anastasia never saw eye-to-eye. Mangano was displeased with Anastasia's friendship with Luciano and Frank Costello, especially since they frequently used Anastasia's services without his permission. Anastasia had been, since the 1930s, the operating head of the syndicate's most notorious death squad, Murder, Inc., which was allegedly responsible for 900-1,000 murders. Mangano and his brother, Phil, supposedly had arguments with Anastasia several times, in front of Gambino. Eventually, Anastasia stopped asking permission for anything, further angering the Manganos.

On April 19, 1951, Phil Mangano was found murdered and Vincent Mangano himself vanished the very same day and was never found. It is widely presumed that Anastasia killed them both. Though Anastasia never admitted to having a hand in the Mangano murders, he managed to convince the heads of the other families that Vincent Mangano had been plotting to have him killed, a claim backed up by Frank Costello, the acting boss of the Luciano crime family. Anastasia was named the new boss of the family, with Gambino as his underboss. Gambino was now one of the most powerful mobsters in the business, with a crew making profit of extortion, illegal gambling, hijacking, bootlegging and murder. Shortly afterward, Gambino's cousin and brother-in-law, Paul Castellano (Giuseppe's son), took over as capo of Gambino's old crew.

Anastasia, Genovese, and Gambino

Mugshot of Carlo Gambino

While the renamed Anastasia family made more money than ever, some other mobsters grew concerned about his temper and violent behavior. Anastasia's violent ways could be contained as long as Luciano and Frank Costello pulled the strings, but certain mobsters, most notably Vito Genovese, doubted whether it was really possible to keep Anastasia reined in. These doubts grew even louder in 1952, when Anastasia ordered the murder of a young Brooklyn tailor's assistant named Arnold Schuster, after watching Schuster talking on television about his role as primary witness in fugitive bank robber Willie Sutton's arrest. In killing Schuster, Anastasia had violated a cardinal Mafia rule against killing outsiders; as Bugsy Siegel once quaintly put it, "We only kill each other." The murder brought unnecessary public scrutiny on Mafia business. Luciano and Costello were horrified, but they could not take action against Anastasia since Genovese was angling to take over the Luciano family as well, and they needed Anastasia to counter Genovese's growing ambition and power. From the start of Anastasia's rise to boss of the family, Genovese did not get along with him. Genovese believed that Anastasia had murdered Vincent Mangano, thereby breaking a cardinal Mafia rule. Due to Joe Bonanno's efforts, war was avoided between the two families. However, Genovese continued to resent Anastasia.

Genovese knew this as well, and in early 1957 convinced Gambino to side with him against Anastasia, Costello and Luciano. On Genovese's advice, Gambino told Anastasia that they were not making enough money from the casinos at Cuba, which belonged to Meyer Lansky. When Anastasia confronted Lansky, he was furious, and seemingly threw his support to the Genovese-Gambino alliance. Shortly afterward, Genovese moved against Costello by hiring Vincent "Chin" Gigante to assassinate him. While the attempt failed, it frightened Costello enough to ask the Commission for permission to retire, which they accepted. Genovese took over the family and renamed it the Genovese crime family.

With Costello out of the way, Genovese then moved against Anastasia. Genovese believed that Anastasia was attempting to make a move against him, so Genovese thought he had to strike first. At the time, Gambino was worried that Anastasia was jealous of his wealth and influence, and would have him killed. Gambino was convinced by Genovese to give his support, by giving the order to "Joe the Blonde" Biondo, who selected Stephen Armone, Arnold "Witty" Wittenberg, and Steven Grammauta to carry out the hit. They allegedly shot Albert Anastasia on October 25, 1957, in the barbershop of the Park Sheraton Hotel (now the Park Central Hotel) in New York City (the Anastasia murder was finally solved in 2007, 50 years later.) Gambino then became the new boss of the Mangano crime family, which was renamed the Gambino crime family.

The Apalachin and Genovese's fall

Vito Genovese now believed that with Costello and Anastasia out of the way and Gambino supposedly in his debt, the way was clear for him to become Boss of Bosses. However, Gambino had his own mind, and secretly aligned himself with Luciano, Costello and Lansky against Genovese. The Costello-Lansky-Luciano-Gambino alliance gained further strength after the Apalachin Conference, supposedly set up to formally crown Genovese as Boss of Bosses, ended in disaster with several prominent mafiosi being arrested. Soon afterward, Costello, Luciano, and Lansky met face to face in Italy.

In 1959, Vito Genovese was heading to Atlanta where a huge shipment of heroin was arriving. But when he arrived, Genovese was surprised by local police, the FBI and the ATF. He was convicted for selling a large quantity of heroin and was sentenced to 15 years in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. Genovese would later die in prison of a heart attack in 1969.

Don Carlo

Carlo Gambino under arrest in 1970

In the early 1960s, Gambino slowly moved against the prominent Anastasia loyalists, headed by caporegime Armand "Tommy" Rava. With Joseph Biondo as a solid underboss, Joseph Riccobono as Gambino's own consigliere, and with his top caporegimes, Aniello Dellacroce, Paul Castellano, Carmine Lombardozzi, Joseph Armone, and Carmine Fatico, the remaining Anastasia loyalists could never make a move.

Gambino quickly expanded his rackets all over the country. New Gambino rackets were created in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, San Francisco and Las Vegas also, to regain complete control of Manhattan, took over the New York Longshoremen Union, where 98% of all New York City's ports were controlled. It was a great time, when a lot of money rolled in from every Gambino racket in the U.S. and around the world and worked its way up to become the wealthiest and most powerful criminal empire in the world. Gambino greatly expanded his vast criminal empire turning it into a multi-billion dollar international organized crime empire, he worked his way up to ruling New York City with an iron fist and virtually controlling the United States. For twenty years, Gambino was literally untouchable and evidently invincible, he was making billions of dollars a year, but he lived a secretive, non-flashy and quiet lifestyle in his $50 million luxury mega-mansion. Gambino made his own family policy: "Deal and Die." This was Gambino's message to every Gambino family member; heroin and cocaine were highly lucrative, but were dangerous, and would also attract too much attention. The punishment for dealing drugs, in Gambino style, was an immediate death. During his reign, Gambino ruled his vast criminal empire with an iron fist, he was known to be fair and honest but he was incredibly dangerous and also was known to be extremely ruthless and did not hesitate to order murders if need be. Gambino ordered thousands of murders during his reign, and ruled New York with an iron fist, and controlled virtually the whole country. During his reign, Gambino was the most powerful and influential mob boss in America, and the most powerful crime lord in the world.

In the early 1960s, the Gambino family had more than 100,000 soldiers, within 12,000 crews all over North America, and the Gambino family was a multi-billion dollar international organized crime empire, making a staggering $600 billion a year, making the family far wealthier and larger than every major company in America combined. In 1962, his eldest son Thomas Gambino married the daughter of fellow mob boss Gaetano "Tommy" Lucchese, the new head of the Gagliano crime family, whom Gambino would become close to as a partner, friend, and relative. More than 7,000 people, celebrities, movie stars, singers, police, judges, mayors, lawyers, senators, congressmen, governors, businessmen, relatives, friends, and "friends of ours", (members of La Cosa Nostra) were present during the wedding-ceremony. It has been rumored that Gambino personally gave Lucchese $1 million as a "welcome gift" that same day. As repayment, Lucchese cut his friend into the airport rackets that were under Lucchese control, especially at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where all unions, management, and security were controlled by Lucchese himself. After Joseph Bonanno was forced into retirement by The Commission, Vito Genovese died of a heart attack, and Tommy Lucchese died of a brain tumor, Gambino's status and power on The Commission was elevated almost immediately. While the Mafia had abolished the title of "boss of all bosses", Gambino's position afforded him the powers such a title would have carried, as he was now the boss of the largest, wealthiest and most powerful criminal organization in the world, and was the head of The Commission, a position only Lucky Luciano had held before Gambino.

Profaci, the Gallos, and Gambino

In February 1962, the Gallo brothers kidnapped a number of prominent members of the Profaci family including underboss Joseph Magliocco and capo Joseph Colombo. In return for their release, the brothers demanded changes in the way profits were divided between crews, and at first Profaci appeared to agree, following negotiations between the captors and Profaci's consigliere, Charles Locicero, but Profaci was simply biding his time before taking revenge on the Gallos. Gallo crew member Joseph "Joe Jelly" Gioelli was murdered by Profaci's men in September, and an attempt on Larry Gallo's life was interrupted by policemen in a Brooklyn bar. The brothers set about attacking Profaci's men wherever they saw them as all-out war erupted between the two factions. Plus, Gambino and Lucchese were putting pressure on the other bosses to convince Profaci of stepping down from his title and family, but on June 6, 1962, Profaci lost his battle against cancer. He was replaced as boss of the family by Joseph Magliocco, a man very much in the Profaci mould, much to the family. That's why Gambino and Lucchese gave their support to the Gallo crew, while Joseph Bonanno, the longtime Don of the Bonanno crime family, gave his support to Magliocco and the Profacis.

Conspiracy against the Commission

With the Gallos out of the way, Magliocco was able to consolidate his position and concentrate on the business of running the family's affairs. However, Joseph Bonanno hatched a plot to murder the heads of the other three families, which Magliocco decided to go along with. The assassinations went to Profaci capo, Joseph Colombo, who realized that the plot would never amount to anything, and warned Gambino about Magliocco and Bonanno's conspiracy against the Commission. Bonanno and Magliocco were called to face the judgement of the Commission. While Bonanno went into hiding, Magliocco faced up to his crimes. Understanding that he had been following Bonanno's lead, he was let off with a $50,000 fine, and forced to retire as the head of the family, being replaced by Joseph Colombo. One month later, Magliocco died of high blood pressure, but Gambino had other plans for Bonanno.

The Banana War

After Magliocco's death, Bonanno had few allies left. Many members felt he was too power hungry, and one, a boss from Florida, Santo Trafficante, Jr., once said in anger, "He's planting flags all over the fucking world!" Some members of his family also thought he spent too much time away from New York, and more in Canada and Tucson, where he had business interests. The Commission members decided that he no longer deserved leadership over his family and replaced him with a caporegime in his family, Gaspare DiGregorio. Bonanno, however, would not accept this result, breaking the family into two groups, the one led by DiGregorio, and the other headed by Bonanno and his son, Salvatore Bonanno. Newspapers referred to it as "The Banana Split."

Since Bonanno refused to give up his position, the other Commission members felt it was time for drastic action.

Gambino was the one who would give the order to have Bonanno killed, but took pity on him and decided to give Bonanno one last chance to retire while he had his life. In October 1964, Bonanno was kidnapped by Buffalo crime family members, Peter and Antonino Magaddino. According to Bonanno, he was held captive in upstate New York by his cousin, Stefano Magaddino. Supposedly Magaddino represented the Commission and Gambino, and told his cousin that he "took up too much space in the air", a Sicilian proverb for arrogance. After much talk, Bonanno was released and the Commission members believed he would finally retire and relinquish his power.

Eventually, DiGregorio promised a peace meeting on whatever territory Salvatore wanted. It was an ambush. DiGregorio's men opened fire with rifles and automatic weapons on Salvatore and his associates, who were armed only with pistols. The police estimated that over 500 shots were fired but remarkably, no one was hurt. The war went on for another two more years. The Commission originally thought they could win, but when Joe Bonanno returned, their hopes were dashed. Bonanno sent out a message to his enemies, saying that for every Bonanno loyalist killed, he would retaliate by hitting a caporegime from the other side. The Bonanno loyalists were starting to see victory, but when Bonanno suffered a heart attack, he decided that he and his son would retire to Tucson, leaving his broken family to another capo, Paul Sciacca, who had replaced DiGregorio. Gambino stood as the victorious and most powerful mob boss in the US. Having the reputation of Gambino's "mercy", made him even more respectable in front of the Commission.

Gambino and the "cement overcoat"

Even though Cosa Nostra members show utmost respect to their superiors, there have been cases of members disrespecting and/or humiliating another made man. An especially notorious case is that of Dominick "Mimi" Scialo – a feared and respected soldier of the Colombo family who controlled all of Coney Island. When under the influence of alcohol, Scialo would become very arrogant, loud and disrespectful. One day in October 1974, Scialo was at a popular Italian restaurant, he spotted Carlo Gambino and began to harass him, insulting Gambino in front of others. Gambino stayed calm, as he always was, didn't retaliate and didn't say a word. Scialo's body was found not long after at Otto's Social Club in South Brooklyn encased in the cement floor.

Las Vegas, Gambino, and Sinatra

Left to right: Paul Castellano, Gregory DePalma, Frank Sinatra, Tommy Marson, Carlo Gambino, Aladena Fratianno, Salvatore Spatola. Seated: Joseph Gambino, Richard Fusco.

Gambino was seen at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas on August 2, 1967, where he is supposed to have met Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop, the group known as "The Rat Pack." They were excellent singers, and the mob, and Gambino in particular, lived for their music. Gambino allegedly gave each of them $10,000 after performing at the Desert Inn, while Gambino was present in the VIP-lounge. Gambino also allegedly said to Castellano: "I want a picture of me and Frankie". Sinatra of course, happily obliged and Gambino, Castellano and other mobsters got a picture with Sinatra in the middle. Sinatra would later testify about this in court, but announced that he didn't know any Carlo Gambino, but it got to a point where he had to explain why he was attending the Havana Conference in Cuba in 1946, showing up with $2,000,000 in a silver suitcase and a picture that showed Sinatra, Charles Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Albert Anastasia, and Carlo Gambino having a drink by a pool.

Lucchese's death

Gaetano "Tommy" Lucchese led a quiet, stable life until he developed a fatal brain tumor and died at his home in Lido Beach, Long Island on July 13, 1967. His funeral at the Calvary Cemetery in Queens, was attended by over 20,000 mourners, including politicians, judges, district attorneys, lawyers, cops, racketeers, drug pushers, pimps, hitmen, Gambino and mobsters from around the United States. Gambino allegedly arranged the whole funeral. Lucchese was succeeded as boss by Anthony Corallo.

Colombo assassination

It has also been theorized that Gambino went so far as to organize the shooting of Joseph Colombo, head of the Colombo crime family, on June 28, 1971. Colombo survived the shooting, but remained in a coma until his death in 1977. The other theory is that Joey Gallo organized the attack himself. It seems that the rest of the Colombo family believed the latter theory, as Gallo was famously gunned down himself not long after. Colombo's increasing media attention was definitely not liked by the other Commission members, that Lucchese withdrew support was evidenced by capo Paul Vario rescinding his membership from the Italian-American Civil Rights League. However Gambino resorting to killing Colombo seems unlikely as there was nothing really substantial for Gambino to benefit from doing it. Gallo and his crew had already started one war against Profaci, during which time they had kidnapped Colombo, and as Colombo had allegedly carried out a number of hits during that war it seems understandable that Gallo would not like him and have designs on becoming boss himself.

However, the theory that Gallo was responsible ignores several pertinent factors. It is true that many powerful members were angry with Colombo for having founded the Italian-American Civil Rights League and glorying in publicity. Gambino hated publicity, always preferring to work in the shadows and was said to have been quite upset with Colombo about this. As was his style, Gambino did not make a public show of his anger. Gallo had recently been in prison where he had formed close associations with black prisoners who could serve as muscle, a fact that was well known to Gambino. Colombo was shot at a CIAO (Congress of Italo-America Organizations which was an umbrella organization that included Colombo's Italian-American Civil Rights League) rally by a black man who was almost instantly shot and killed. If Gambino did it, or set the wheels in motion, it was a master stroke. He was rid of a publicity seeking thorn in his side and he got the Colombo family to eliminate Gallo whose propensity for disruptive violence also displeased the Don. It was also the way Gambino operated, very intelligently, very quietly but with final brutality.

The police were happy to accept the Gallo theory as was the Colombo crime family, but as time went on the theory that Gambino masterminded it gained a lot of currency within the "mob". Who knows what the truth is but it is dubious that Gallo would have committed suicide by using a black assassin, though it is true that Joey Gallo could have illogical fits of rage. Nonetheless, the true benefit was stability of the Gambino empire as the old Don faded.

Luciano's death

Gambino was also the only mob boss of the Five Families who attended the burial of the longtime friend Charles "Lucky" Luciano. On January 26, 1962, Luciano died of a heart attack at the age of 64 at Naples International Airport. He was buried in St. John's Cemetery in Queens, 1972, more than ten years after his death because of the terms of his deportation in 1946. More than 2,000 mourners attended his funeral, where Gambino gave his own speech in memory of Luciano, his friend and companion.

Tommy Eboli's murder

After the imprisonment of Vito Genovese in 1959, Thomas Eboli was made acting boss and kept his position toward 1969, when Genovese died in jail. About that time, Eboli was the only one who could re-organize the Genovese crime family, but Eboli needed money to start his reign as boss, which is why he borrowed $4,000,000 from Gambino, the richest Don of New York City. The only problem was that Eboli's crew was arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison, which was allegedly arranged by Gambino because he wanted his friend Frank Tieri as boss. When Gambino came to be repaid, Eboli refused and said he didn't have enough money. Under the influence of Gambino, the selection of Frank Tieri as boss of the Genovese crime family was made, subsequently after the murder of Tommy Eboli on July 16, 1972. To this day, no one has been arrested for his murder.

Constant surveillance

In December 1972, on Ocean Parkway, a van began to park outside Gambino's home. In that car, sat the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Mob squad, with cameras, lip-readers, and audio-surveillance equipment, including microphones and wire-taps that were planted in Gambino's home. The FBI was kept on a 24-hour standby, hoping to connect Gambino to organized crime. The van was marked "Organized Crime Control Bureau."

But even though Gambino had every corner in his house recorded, he knew how to conduct business in silence. According to FBI officials, they once recorded a meeting between Gambino, Aniello Dellacroce and Joseph Biondo, where Biondo is just to have said: "Frog legs", and Gambino simply nodded. The recording tapes came out empty.

Emmanuel "Manny" Gambino's kidnapping and murder

In early 1973, Gambino's nephew Emmanuel Gambino was kidnapped by Thomas Genovese (a distant relative of Vito Genovese), James McBratney, "Crazy" Eddie Maloney, Warren "Chief" Schurman and Richie Chaisson. The gang believed they could get $100,000 for each kidnapping. They had previously kidnapped a Lucchese crime family capo, Frank Manzo. For Manny Gambino, the kidnappers asked for $200,000, but Gambino claimed he could only come up with $50,000. Manny's car was located at the Newark Airport. His corpse was found to be stiff from rigor mortis before being buried in a sitting position in a New Jersey dump near the Earle Naval Ammunition Depot. Robert Senter was arrested and charged with his murder. Robert was a gambler and had fallen in debt with Manny Gambino. On June 1, 1973, he pled guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.

Gambino family regroups

Gambino was disappointed with both his own underboss, Aniello Dellacroce and Dellacroce's ambitious protégé John Gotti, so Gambino reorganized. Now, with a weak heart, he decided there was to be two underbosses who both reported to him, Dellacroce and Gambino's own brother-in-law, Paul Castellano. Castellano took over the white-collar crimes in Brooklyn like union racketeering, solid and toxic waste, recycling, construction, fraud and wire fraud, while Dellacroce would have free rein over those crews who carried out more traditional, 'hands-on' Mafia activities and the blue-collar crimes, such as murder for hire, loansharking, gambling, extortion, hijacking, pier thefts, fencing, and robbery. This strategic restructuring also created confusion in the FBI in the mid 1970s as to who the official underboss in the family was. In reality, the Gambino crime family was split into two separate factions, with two underbosses and one Don.

Final decision

In his last years, Gambino still ruled his family and the other New York families with an iron fist, while keeping a low profile both from the public and law enforcement. He had to choose who he would appoint as his successor after his departure. He chose his cousin and capo, Paul Castellano, over his underboss, Aniello Dellacroce.


Gambino had many cousins in Sicily. One of them, Maria Gambino, eventually married Salvatore Biondo, a relative of Joseph Biondo.

Death and burial

Gambino died of a heart attack on October 15, 1976, while watching his beloved New York Yankees at his home.[4][5][3][6] He was buried in Saint John's Cemetery, Queens in New York City, as was Charles Luciano, and more than ten other lifetime friends. His funeral was said to have been attended by at least 60,000 people, including family, friends, relatives, businessmen, mobsters and bosses from around the country, movie stars, famous celebrities, governors, lawyers, mayors, police officers, judges and prominent politicians. Gambino left behind sons Thomas, Joseph and Carlo, daughter Phyllis Sinatra, and a family with a crew of 1,000 soldiers, after leading the Gambino crime family for 20 years, and the Commission for more than 15.


Gambino's permanent residence was a modest house located at 2230 Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, New York. Gambino's Long Island residence, located at 34 Club Drive in Massapequa, served as his summer home. The two-story brick house, surrounded by a low fence with marble statues on the front lawn, was at the end of a cul-de-sac in Harbor Green Estates, overlooking the Great South Bay.[7] He also maintained the house next door as a residence for his bodyguard.

People murdered by Carlo Gambino

Order: Nº. Name/Rank/Affiliation/When/Involvement/Reason

  1. Giuseppe Masseria/Boss/Masseria crime family/April 15, 1931/Planned it with Charles Luciano and others/To end the Castellammarese War.
  2. Albert Anastasia/Boss/Gambino crime family/October 25, 1957/Ordered it/To become boss of the Gambino crime family.
  3. James Squillante/Soldier/Gambino crime family/October 23, 1960/Ordered it/Squilante was murdered because he was an Anastasia loyalist and a potential threat to Gambino's power.
  4. Thomas Eboli/Capo/Genovese crime family/July 16, 1972/Ordered it/Eboli was killed because he owed Gambino and Castellano $4 million and refused to pay it back.
  5. James McBratney/Associate/Irish Mob/May 22, 1973/Ordered it/For kidnapping and murdering Gambino's nephew Emmanuel.
  6. Dominick Scialo/Soldier/Colombo crime family/October 1974/Ordered it/For disrespecting Gambino.

Popular culture

  • In the 1973 film Crazy Joe about Joey Gallo, Carlo Gambino is portrayed by Eli Wallach using the name of Don Vittorio.
  • In the 1996 TV film Gotti, Carlo Gambino is portrayed by Marc Lawrence as the head of the Gambino family towards his death in 1976.
  • In the 1999 comedy movie Analyze This, fictional mobster Primo Sindone makes a reference that, "Genovese forgot to kill Gambino before the meeting, I'm not gonna make that same mistake."
  • In the 2001 TV film Boss of Bosses, Gambino is portrayed by Al Ruscio, was showed from his early years in the Cosa Nostra till his death when Paul Castellano was chosen to succeed him.
  • In the 2015 AMC mini series The Making of the Mob: New York, Carlo Gambino is portrayed by Noah Forrest.
  • In the 2018 biopic Gotti, Carlo Gambino is portrayed by Michael Cipiti.
  • "The Godfather" was one of Gambino's nicknames and possibly the origin of the title of Mario Puzo's 1969 novel The Godfather.


  1. Da Lucky Luciano a Charles Gambino i boss del mare tra Sicilia e America (it). (October 21, 2008).
  2. Davis, John H. (1993). . HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-016357-7.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gage, Nicholas. "Carlo Gambino, a Mafia Leader, Dies in His Long Island Home at 74", The New York Times, October 16, 1976. “Carlo Gambino, the pre-eminent figure in organized crime in the country died early yesterday morning in his Massapequa, L.I., home of natural causes. He was 74 years old.” 
  4. "Reputed U.S. crime boss, 74, dies", Eugene Register-Guard, October 16, 1976, p. 3A. 
  5. "Top organized crime 'Godfather' dies", Spokesman-Review, October 16, 1976, p. 1. 
  6. "1976: Funeral of Mafia boss held in NY", On This Day, BBC. 
  7. Lynda Milito (2012). Mafia Wife: Revised Edition My Story of Love, Murder, and Madness. ISBN 9781479735402.

External links