Peter 'Fat Pete' Clemenza is a fictional character from the novel and movie series The Godfather, where he was one of the two original caporegimes in the Corleone family (the other being Salvatore Tessio), ruling over the family's territory in The Bronx.
Clemenza was born in the province of Trapani, Sicily, and emigrated to America at an early age, moving into Hell's Kitchen in New York and leaving behind his brother Domenico, who would become a Mafia boss in Trapani. He swiftly became friends with another savvy youth, Salvatore Tessio. He became known as a suave yet violent presence in the neighborhood, ruthless in the protection of his property and his businesses. For this, he became of interest to Don Fanucci, but Clemenza rejected the idea of having a 'boss', and Fanucci let him go. Clemenza instead turned his sights toward mentoring the Corleone youth.
Clemenza and Vito
Clemenza became a friend of Vito Corleone after Vito immigrated from Sicily to the United States. As a young man, Vito held a blanket of guns for him to prevent their discovery by the police. Clemenza repaid this favor by stealing a rug for Vito's family, with the unwitting Vito's help, thus facilitating the future godfather's first introduction to the rewards of crime. Their roles were later reversed when Vito killed Don Fanucci, establishing him as the group's leader. Friendly and jovial, Clemenza was known as a storyteller among many of his acquaintances and family members - a trait that endeared him to Vito, who loved listening to storytellers. Peter Clemenza got his start selling stolen goods such as dresses and guns with Vito and Tessio as far back as 1917, and became a key figure in the growing Corleone family. Vito kept him close through the years - even making him godfather to his oldest son Santino - though this was all to control his brutal and more ambitious tendencies.
During the Olive Oil War, Clemenza was considered a vital part of the family, and his street-smarts enabled Vito to learn more about his enemies, particularly the feared enforcer Luca Brasi.
Clemenza played a key role in aiding Michael following the shooting of Vito, despite initially being suspected of setting the Don up.
When Paulie Gatto was discovered as the true traitor, Clemenza was entrusted with the task of eliminating him, enlisting rising associate Rocco Lampone to carry out the hit. Clemenza took Paulie's betrayal personally, having shepherded Paulie's rise through the family over the heads of more experienced and loyal soldiers. In order to lull Paulie into a false sense of security, Clemenza and Rocco drove around in a car with him for a few hours, looking for good sites where the Corleone men could "go to the mattresses" in the imminent war. He also collected some cannoli for his wife. After this, Clemenza ordered Paulie to pull the car over so he could urinate, Rocco then shot Paulie in the back of the head three times. Rocco succeeded Paulie as a button man and Don Corleone's new driver.
When Vito's youngest son, Michael, offered to kill both Virgil Sollozzo and Captain McCluskey, who was on Sollozzo's payroll, Clemenza taught him how to use such a gun and told him who would plant the gun inside the bathroom of the restaurant. The plan succeeded, and while Michael was hiding out in Sicily, Clemenza prepared for an all-out war against the remaining four families.
The Five Families War
As Vito's most trusted friend, Clemenza was assigned to keep a watchful eye on his son-in-law, Carlo Rizzi and the bookies that he owned in Hell's Kitchen. Clemenza kept tabs on Carlo through the use of his contact 'Sally Rags', who informed him of Sonny's brutal assault on Carlo in 1946. The war later claimed Sonny Corleone's life, and Vito returned from the hospital following the assassination attempt.
Peter Clemenza visited Sicily in 1950, where he met Michael Corleone in order to arrange his safe return to America and also to oversee the safe passage of a family friend, Salvatore Giuliano. At this time he was briefly reunited with his brother, Domenico. However Giuliano was killed by his friend Gaspare Pisciotta before he could make his escape.
In the 1950s, Clemenza and Tessio requested the opportunity to start their own families, as Emilio Barzini had been chipping away at their territories. Michael told them to wait, to which Clemenza reluctantly agreed, but Tessio did not and made a deal with Barzini, which resulted in his death. Clemenza remained loyal, and personally assassinated Victor Stracci during Michael Rizzi's baptism. He also garroted Carlo Rizzi, Connie Corleone's husband, in revenge for Carlo's purported involvement in the massacre of her brother Sonny. At a meeting with Michael, Rocco and Al Neri, Clemenza greets Michael as "Don Corleone" and kisses Michael's hand--a sign that Michael has become his father's successor in every way.
For his loyalty and years of service, Clemenza was given control of the Corleone family in New York City and continued running operations from the old Corleone compound. He also stood in as an informal consigliere for Michael when the family was making moves to become legitimate. Though old, he still retained the sharpness he had in his youth, and kept his ear to the street, with only the addition of a walking cane. It was through Clemenza that Michael learned about the rumors of bisexuality of his brother Fredo.
He died of a supposed heart attack in 1958 while at his favorite diner, cooking food for his men. He was succeeded by Frank Pentangeli, his loyal lieutenant and long time friend. Rumors swirled that the Rosato Brothers had something to do with his death, though it was ruled heart failure.