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Richard S. Castellano Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (6)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (5)

Born in The Bronx, New York City, New York, USA
Died in North Bergen, New Jersey, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameRichard Salvatore Castellano
Nickname Richie
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Bronx born, stocky Italian-American actor who only appeared in a handful of films, yet earned some degree of immortality for his role as the loyal Corleone capo "Peter Clemenza" teaching Al Pacino how to shoot a crooked police captain in the iconic gangster film The Godfather (1972). He was originally a construction company manager, then he gained work with the New Yiddish Theatre, before breaking into film near his thirtieth birthday. However in 1970, in only his fourth film, Castellano received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance in Lovers and Other Strangers (1970) and came to the attention of casting agents for The Godfather (1972). After his strong showing as a tough hoodlum in The Godfather (1972), he became somewhat typecast as a screen criminal and appeared in further crime films including Honor Thy Father (1973) and Gangster Wars (1981).

He died in December 1988 from a heart attack at the age of 55.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: firehouse44@hotmail.com

Spouse (2)

Margaret Tiernan (1953 - ?) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
Ardell Sheridan (? - 10 December 1988) ( his death)

Trivia (6)

Specialized in playing overweight characters. His normal weight was about 200 pounds, but producers invariably insisted that he gain at least 50 pounds for roles.
In the DVD commentary of The Godfather (1972), Francis Ford Coppola says that Castellano was not in The Godfather: Part II (1974) because he wanted to have someone else (of his choosing) write his dialogue. According to Castellano's widow, Ardell Sheridan, Castellano was dropped by Coppola because he refused to regain the weight to play Clemenza due to health reasons.
Has played the father of Bruno Kirby, in The Super (1972), and an older version of Bruno Kirby's character, Clemenza, in The Godfather (1972).
Was nominated for Broadway's 1969 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Dramatic) for Lovers and Other Strangers (1970), a part he recreated in an Oscar nominated performance in the film version of the same name, Lovers and Other Strangers (1970).
Richard's widow, Ardell Sheridan, published a book in 2002 detailing his contributions in the making of The Godfather (1972). Able to recall true-life experiences growing up in a mob family, Richard's experiences helped Francis Ford Coppola when needing to tighten up the script. The book states that Richard kept an inexperienced Al Pacino from getting fired by making slight adjustments in Pacino's characterization as Michael Corleone that not only helped Pacino keep his job, but enhanced the complexity of his character. Castellano was also instrumental in helping Marlon Brando understand Vito Corleone's motivations, but reports that their relationship suffered due to Brando's bruised ego. According to the book, Richard was the only other actor who was considered for Don Corleone's role after Brando's screen test for the part. Both Richard and Ardell rewrote the Genco Oil scene when the version written by Francis Ford Coppola wasn't working.
Nephew of Paul Castellano.

Personal Quotes (1)

[on why he was not in The Godfather: Part II (1974)] I saw Clemenza as a teacher. He teaches how to make spaghetti, how to use the gun. [Coppola] can't tell me that Clemenza, after years of loyalty to the old man, would go in and testify against organized crime. Not unless you proved to me... that he had become a fearful man, that he had become a betrayer. The demands on me were impossible. I had settled on a price and everybody else's was settled upon mine. [Coppola] had me losing weight to play Clemenza as a young man. I was down to 194 pounds. When I received the script five minutes later, it had me rolling in at 300 pounds... The next thing, I saw Coppola quoted as saying that I asked for more money than anyone else, that I asked to rewrite the script. Once the lie gets out, the lie is told, and it takes.

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