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Michael Corleone
Corleone
is the main protagonist of Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather. In the three Godfather films, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Michael was portrayed by Al Pacino, for which he was twice-nominated for Academy Awards. In June 2003, Michael Corleone
Corleone
was recognized as the 11th most iconic villain in film history by the American Film Institute, although some critics consider him to be a tragic hero.[1][2]

Contents

1 Family 2 The Godfather 3 The Godfather
The Godfather
Part II 4 The Godfather
The Godfather
Part III 5 The Sicilian 6 Sequel novels 7 Family members 8 References 9 Bibliography

Family[edit] Born in 1920 to mafia don Vito Corleone
Vito Corleone
and Carmela, Michael has two older brothers; Santino "Sonny" Corleone
Corleone
and Frederico "Fredo" Corleone
Corleone
and a younger sister, Constanzia "Connie" Corleone. The family consigliere, Tom Hagen, is their informal adoptive brother. The Godfather[edit] Unlike his two older brothers, Michael wants nothing to do with the Corleone
Corleone
“family business”. Vito does not want Michael to join the Corleone
Corleone
criminal empire either, preferring that his favorite son go into politics. As a young man, Michael enrolled in Dartmouth College, prompting his brother Sonny to call him "Joe College." But when the United States entered World War II
World War II
in 1941, Michael enlisted in the Marine Corps. During the war, he was in the Pacific, receiving a battlefield commission to the rank of captain and awarded the Navy Cross for bravery. In 1944, his war heroism is featured in Life magazine. During the summer of 1945, Michael has been discharged from the Marine Corps, having been wounded. Vito had secretly arranged for his discharge. He returns home to attend his sister Connie's wedding, accompanied by Kay Adams, his college sweetheart. Michael stays for a few weeks before re-entering college without consulting his family. Just before Christmas 1945, Vito is severely wounded in an assassination attempt by drug kingpin Virgil Sollozzo, throwing Michael into the middle of the Mafia
Mafia
world he had for so long avoided. Arriving at the hospital to find his father unprotected, Michael calls Sonny and prevents Sollozzo's second attempt on Vito's life, then reaffirms his loyalty at his father's bedside. Captain McCluskey, a corrupt NYPD officer on Sollozzo's payroll, breaks Michael's jaw. In retaliation, Sonny orders the murder of Bruno Tattaglia, son and underboss of Sollozzo's ally Philip Tattaglia. Sollozzo proposes that Michael to be sent to broker a truce, but Sonny, believing that it's a trap, refuses and demands that the other Mafia
Mafia
families hand over Sollozzo to the Corleone family or else face war. Michael suggests they agree to Sollozzo's meeting but insist that it be in a public place with people, where he will kill both Sollozzo and McCluskey. Corleone
Corleone
consigliere Tom Hagen
Tom Hagen
warns Sonny that killing McCluskey would violate a long-standing Mafia
Mafia
rule not to kill members of law enforcement and that the backlash from rival Mafia
Mafia
families and law enforcement would be severe. Michael successfully argues that McCluskey is fair game because he is a corrupt cop mixed up in the drug trade and serving as Sollozzo's bodyguard. Sonny agrees and approves the hit. Michael meets with Sollozzo and McCluskey at an Italian restaurant in the Bronx, retrieves a handgun that Corleone
Corleone
caporegime Peter Clemenza had planted beforehand in the toilet and kills Sollozzo and McCluskey. This ignites the New York underworld's first Mafia
Mafia
war in a decade. Michael flees to Sicily, where he spends two years under the protection of Vito's friend and longtime ally, Don Tommasino. Michael meets and falls in love with a young local woman named Apollonia Vitelli. They marry, and when Michael is notified that Sonny has been murdered they prepare to move to the safer Siracusa. Apollonia is killed by a car bomb intended for Michael, planted by Fabrizio, Michael's bodyguard, after being bought off by the Corleones' rivals. Michael returns to the United States in early 1951[3] and assumes Sonny's role as Vito's heir apparent. After Don Corleone's suspicions are confirmed that Don Emilio Barzini, his main rival for power in New York, had been behind Sollozzo and Tattaglia all along, Michael and his father begin a secret, long-range plot to wipe out the other New York Dons. They deliberately allow their rivals to whittle away at Corleone
Corleone
interests in order to lull them into inaction. Meanwhile, Michael convinces his father the time is right to remove the family from the Mafia. More than a year after his return, Michael reunites with Kay and they marry. He promises her the Corleone family will be completely legitimate in five years. Within two years, they have two children, Anthony and Mary. In the novel, Kay gives birth to two sons. Vito semi-retires in 1954, and Michael becomes operating head of the family. He attempts to buy out casino owner Moe Greene's stake in the Las Vegas casino that the Corleones bankrolled, intending to move the family to Nevada
Nevada
and legitimize all Corleone
Corleone
enterprises, but Greene refuses to sell. Before his death in 1955, Vito warns Michael that Barzini will likely attempt to assassinate Michael under the pretense of establishing peace between the families, and tells Michael that whoever approaches him about the meeting is the traitor within the family. When caporegime Salvatore Tessio
Salvatore Tessio
unknowingly exposes his complicity with Barzini by arranging the meeting, Michael sets the plan in motion to murder the other New York Mafia
Mafia
heads: Barzini, Philip Tattaglia, Carmine Cuneo, and Victor Stracci, as well as Moe Greene. The plot unfolds on the same day Michael stands as godfather to Connie's newborn son. Later the same day, Tessio and Carlo Rizzi, Connie's abusive husband who conspired in Sonny's murder, are executed. In one stroke, Michael re-establishes the Corleone family as the nation's most powerful crime family, and makes a reputation for himself as being even more cunning and ruthless than his father. Connie accuses Michael of murdering Carlo. Michael dismisses her accusations as hysteria, and when questioned by Kay denies any involvement. In the novel, Connie recants her accusations a few weeks later, assuring Kay she was mistaken. Kay, initially believing Michael, later observes him receiving his capos. Clemenza addresses Michael as "Don Corleone" and kisses his hand in the same manner that he did with Michael's father. Kay realizes Connie's accusations were true, and that Michael has become his father's successor in every way. In the novel, Kay leaves Michael, but Hagen persuades her to return. The Godfather
The Godfather
Part II[edit] The Godfather
The Godfather
Part II is set in 1958 and 1959. The Corleone family has relocated to Nevada
Nevada
while Frank Pentangeli
Frank Pentangeli
runs the family's operations in New York, Clemenza having died a few years before. Although Michael is the most powerful Mafia
Mafia
leader in the nation, he still actively works to remove the Corleone family from crime. His efforts have been largely unsuccessful, however, as his many enemies and growing obsession with revenge keep him tethered to the criminal underworld. Michael plans to finally legitimize the family by negotiating with Hyman Roth, his father's former business partner, over controlling casino operations in Cuba. Hours after Anthony's First Communion
First Communion
party, unseen gunmen shoot at the Corleone
Corleone
house, nearly killing Michael and Kay. Michael suspects Roth ordered the hit, and believes a mole within the Corleone
Corleone
family aided him. To uncover Roth's involvement, Michael maintains their business relationship, and orders Pentangeli to settle a dispute with Roth's business partners, the Rosato Brothers. When Pentangeli meets with them, they try to kill him, but he survives. Michael, Roth, and Fredo travel to Cuba
Cuba
to forge a partnership with Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista
allowing them to operate casinos in Cuba
Cuba
without interference in exchange for generous payments to the Cuban government. Michael sends his bodyguard to eliminate Roth on New Year's Eve, but Cuban soldiers kill the bodyguard during the attempt. That same night, Fredo unintentionally reveals that he was the mole within the family; Michael confronts Fredo and gives him the Sicilian "kiss of death". During the New Year's Eve
New Year's Eve
festivities, victorious rebel forces enter Havana, forcing Batista into exile and ruining Michael's plans. Fredo, fearing Michael, runs off; Roth escapes to Miami. Meanwhile, Pentangeli, believing Michael had ordered a hit on him, prepares to testify against him in the Senate's investigation of organized crime. However, Michael has Pentangeli's brother Vincenzo brought from Sicily. Just prior to the hearing, Vincenzo and Frank exchange glances. Understanding the threat, Pentangeli recants his earlier sworn statements, throwing the hearings into chaos and effectively destroying the government's case against Michael. Fredo confesses to Michael that Roth's right-hand man, Johnny Ola, had promised to reward him for information about Michael. Fredo also reveals that he resented being "passed over" to head the family in favor of Michael, and that he withheld key information about the Senate investigation. Michael disowns Fredo, and tells his capo Al Neri that nothing is to happen to his brother while their mother is alive — the implication being Neri has been given a contract to assassinate Fredo after their mother's death. Meanwhile, Kay decides to leave Michael and take their children with her, believing Michael will always live in a world of crime and violence. Michael asks her to reconsider, but Kay reveals she aborted their unborn son because she refused to bring another child into the Corleones' crime world. Enraged, Michael strikes Kay and banishes her, preventing her from seeing their children. Following their mother's death, and at sister Connie's behest, Michael seemingly forgives Fredo; soon after, however, Neri murders Fredo on Michael's orders. At the same time, Michael sends Hagen to persuade Pentangeli to commit suicide to spare his family, and has caporegime Rocco Lampone kill a heavily guarded Roth at Idlewild Airport upon his return to the U.S. The film ends as Michael recalls a surprise birthday party for his father on December 7, 1941. In a flashback scene, Michael informs the family that he has dropped out of college to enlist in the Marines. Only Fredo supports Michael's decision. When Vito arrives off-screen, everyone goes to greet him except Michael, who sits alone. The film closes with Michael sitting alone in the Corleones' Lake Tahoe compound. The Godfather
The Godfather
Part III[edit] The Godfather
The Godfather
Part III is set in 1979 and 1980. Michael has moved back to New York and taken great strides to remove the family from crime. He turns over his New York criminal interests to longtime enforcer Joey Zasa. Ridden with guilt over his ruthless rise to power, he uses his wealth in an attempt to rehabilitate his reputation through numerous philanthropic acts, administered by a foundation named after his father. A decade earlier, he gave custody of his two children to Kay, who has since remarried. He sells his gambling interests to the other Mafia
Mafia
families and reorganizes his vast business holdings as the " Corleone
Corleone
Group". The Holy See
Holy See
has named him a Commander of the Order of Saint Sebastian for his charitable works. At the ceremony, Michael and Kay have an uneasy reunion after nine years. Kay wants their son, Anthony, to have nothing to do with the Corleone
Corleone
"legacy", and tells Michael that both she and Anthony know the truth about Fredo's death. Michael had initially wanted Anthony to finish law school, but consents to Anthony becoming an opera singer. Michael's new connection to the Church provides an opportunity to take over the large property company, Immobiliare. He is already its largest shareholder, and offers to buy the Vatican's 25 percent share, which will give him controlling interest. He also takes in Sonny's illegitimate son Vincent Mancini, a soldier in Zasa's crew, as his protegé. Michael recognizes that Vincent has inherited Sonny's fiery temper and fears Vincent will suffer his father's fate. Michael also disapproves of the romance developing between him and Michael's daughter, Mary. Michael fears that Vincent's growing involvement in the Mafia
Mafia
will endanger Mary, just as it did Michael's first wife, Apollonia.[4] On the night Michael announces he is dissolving his gambling empire, Zasa wipes out most of The Commission in a helicopter attack in Atlantic City. Michael escapes with help from Vincent and Neri. Michael quickly realizes that his old friend, Don Altobello, conspired to murder him. Traumatized by the attack, Michael suffers a diabetic stroke, briefly incapacitating him. Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
reveals in his audio commentary that Michael is seen drinking a lot of water in the first two films—subtle hints that he is a diabetic.[4] While Michael recovers, his sister, Connie, gives Vincent her consent to assassinate Zasa. Michael is enraged upon discovering this, and demands that no similar orders be issued while he is alive. Michael returns to Sicily
Sicily
for Anthony's operatic debut at the Teatro Massimo. Suspecting that Altobello may make another attempt on his life, he has Vincent infiltrate Altobello's regime under the pretense of defecting. Michael and Kay tour Sicily
Sicily
together, during which Michael asks for Kay's forgiveness. Kay admits she will always love him. Meanwhile, the Immobiliare deal has stalled, supposedly because Pope Paul VI must personally approve it. Michael learns that the Immobiliare deal is an elaborate swindle concocted by Immobiliare chairman Licio Lucchesi, who schemed with Vatican Bank
Vatican Bank
head Archbishop Gilday and accountant Frederick Keinszig to embezzle a fortune from the Vatican Bank, using Michael's "investment" to cover their tracks. Hoping to salvage the deal, Michael seeks Don Tommasino's assistance. He directs Michael to Cardinal Lamberto
Cardinal Lamberto
(the future Pope John Paul I). With Lamberto's prodding, Michael makes his first confession in 30 years, tearfully breaking down as he admits to ordering Fredo's murder. Lamberto tells Michael he deserves to suffer for his terrible sins, but that there is hope for redemption. John Paul I dies soon after being elected pope, poisoned by Gilday. Michael learns that Altobello (in league with the conspirators) has hired an assassin named Mosca to kill him. Mosca murders Tommasino, and Michael vows before his old friend's casket to sin no more. Vincent reports that Lucchesi, working with Altobello, is behind the assassination attempts on Michael. Weary of the bloody, lonely life of a Don, Michael retires, making Vincent his successor but not before giving him permission to retaliate. In return, Vincent agrees to end his romance with Mary. That night, Michael, reconciled with Kay and Anthony, watches his son's performance in the opera Cavalleria Rusticana. Meanwhile, Vincent orchestrates the murders of Lucchesi, Gilday and Keinszig, and Connie murders Altobello with a poisoned cannoli. After the performance, Mosca shoots Michael, and the bullet passes through his body and hits Mary, killing her. Her death breaks Michael's spirit, and he screams in agony over her body. He returns to Bagheria, Sicily, where he dies with only a dog for company in 1997. The Sicilian[edit] Michael is a secondary character in Puzo's novel The Sicilian, which takes place during his first exile in Sicily. He learns from Clemenza about the legendary exploits of the novel's main character, Salvatore Giuliano, and is eager to meet him, but Giuliano is murdered before the meeting can take place. Sequel novels[edit] Michael appears in Mark Winegardner's sequel novels The Godfather Returns and The Godfather's Revenge. In Godfather Returns, set roughly during the time of Godfather Part II, Michael battles with a new rival, Nick Geraci, while attempting to legitimize the family.[5] In Godfather's Revenge, set a few years after the second film, he moves to protect his criminal empire against Geraci and the machinations of a powerful political dynasty, while dealing with his guilt over having Fredo murdered. In the latter novel, he has a relationship with actress Marguerite "Rita" Duvall in the early 1960s, but he ends it upon realizing that he is still in love with Kay.[6] Family members[edit]

Vito Corleone – Michael's father and The Godfather, played by Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando
in The Godfather, and by Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro
in flashback scenes in Part II Carmela Corleone – Mother, played by Morgana King
Morgana King
in The Godfather Part I and Part II, and by Francesca De Sapio in flashback scenes in Part II Tom Hagen – Adopted brother and consigliere, played by Robert Duvall Santino "Sonny" Corleone – Eldest brother, underboss to Vito, played by James Caan
James Caan
in The Godfather
The Godfather
Part 1, and by Roman Coppola
Roman Coppola
in flashback scenes from Part II Constanzia "Connie" Corleone – Sister, played by Talia Shire Frederico "Fredo" Corleone – Elder brother, underboss to Michael; played by John Cazale Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone – First wife, played by Simonetta Stefanelli Kay Adams-Corleone – Second wife, played by Diane Keaton Anthony Corleone – Son, played by Anthony Gounaris in The Godfather, by James Gounaris in Part II, and by Franc D'Ambrosio
Franc D'Ambrosio
in Part III Mary Corleone – Daughter, played by an uncredited actress in Part II, and by Sofia Coppola
Sofia Coppola
in Part III Vincent Corleone – Nephew and succeeding Don, played by Andy García

References[edit]

^ AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains Archived October 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. ^ " The Godfather
The Godfather
Movie Review by Anthony Leong". Mediacircus.net. Retrieved 2013-04-19.  ^ Puzo, Mario and Coppola, Francis Ford. (1971, 29 March). THE GODFATHER, The Internet Movie Script Database ^ a b The Godfather
The Godfather
Part III DVD commentary featuring Francis Ford Coppola, [2005] ^ http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/godfather-returns-mark-winegardner/1100393913?ean=9780345478986 Accessed on June 27, 2014 ^ https://www.amazon.com/The-Godfathers-Revenge-Mark-Winegardner/dp/0399153845 Amazon.com Accessed on June 27, 2014

Bibliography[edit]

Puzo, Mario (1969). The Godfather. G. P. Putnam's Sons.  Coccimiglio, Carmela (2006). "I'm with You Now. I'm with You...": Michael Corleone
Corleone
as Gangster Figure in Mario Puzo's and Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather
The Godfather
Texts. Lakehead University (Canada). ISBN 978-0-494-31189-9.  Messenger, Chris (1 February 2012). The Godfather
The Godfather
and American Culture: How the Corleones Became "Our Gang". SUNY Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-7914-8870-6.  Coppola, Francis Ford (2004). Francis Ford Coppola: Interviews. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-57806-666-7.  Bondanella, Peter E. (2004). Hollywood Italians: Dagos, Palookas, Romeos, Wise Guys, and Sopranos. A&C Black. p. 244. ISBN 978-0-8264-1544-8.  Tamburri, Anthony Julian; Giordano, Paolo; Gardaphe, Fred L. (2000). From the Margin: Writings in Italian Americana. West Lafeyette, Indiana: Purdue University
Purdue University
Press. p. 406. ISBN 978-1-55753-152-0. 

Preceded by Vito Corleone Head of the Corleone
Corleone
crime family The Godfather c 1955–1958 Succeeded by Tom Hagen
Tom Hagen
(Interim)

Preceded by Tom Hagen
Tom Hagen
(Interim) Head of the Corleone
Corleone
crime family The Godfather c 1959–1980 Succeeded by Vincent Corleone

v t e

The Godfather

Novels

The Godfather The Sicilian The Godfather
The Godfather
Returns The Godfather's Revenge The Family Corleone

Films

The Godfather The Godfather
The Godfather
Part II The Godfather
The Godfather
Part III

Video games

The Godfather
The Godfather
(1991) The Godfather
The Godfather
(2006) The Godfather
The Godfather
II (2009)

Corleone
Corleone
family

Vito Corleone Michael Corleone Tom Hagen Sonny Corleone Fredo Corleone Carmela Corleone Kay Adams-Corleone Connie Corleone Anthony Corleone Mary Corleone Vincent Corleone Sandra Corleone

Family allies

Genco Abbandando Luca Brasi Peter Clemenza Al Neri Frank Pentangeli Salvatore Tessio

Family enemies

Don Altobello Emilio Barzini Don Fanucci Moe Greene Johnny Ola Carlo Rizzi Hyman Roth Louie Russo Joey Zasa

Others

Amerigo Bonasera Cardinal Lamberto Lucy Mancini Danny Shea Mickey Shea Billy Van Arsdale Aldo Trapani Albert Volpe

Music

The Godfather
The Godfather
(soundtrack) The Godfather
The Godfather
Part II (soundtrack) The Godfather
The Godfather
Part III (soundtrack) "Speak Softly, Love" "Promise Me You'll Remember"

Miscellaneous

List of minor characters in The Godfather
The Godfather
series Mario Puzo Mark Winegardner Edward Falco Five Families Corleone The Godfather
The Godfather
Effect The Godfather
The Godfather
Papers and Other Confessions The Godfather
The Godfather
Saga The Last Don Omertà The Sicilian

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