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Biography

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Overview (3)

Born in Tufino, Campania, Italy
Died in Federal Prison Medical Centre, Springfield, Missouri, USA  (heart failure)
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The man once described as the most powerful organized crime gangster in American history was born in Italy in 1897. His first arrest came at the age of 20 in New York City for weapons possession. The coming of Prohibition was a stroke of luck for Genovese, as he graduated from being just a street gang member to professional killer. He worked his way up the ranks of organized crime, and by 1930 was partners with top gangster Lucky Luciano and Giuseppe Masseria -- aka "Joe the Boss" -- an old-timer who ran most of the crime in the city. The partnership didn't do Masseria much good, however, as on April 15, 1931, after a lengthy dinner with his pal Vito, Masseria was surprised by Luciano, Joe Adonis, Albert Anastasia, Bugsy Siegel and Carlo Gambino, who promptly shot him full of holes. Luciano took over Masseria's operations, and he and Genovese expanded them to reach every corner of the country and to get their hands into every racket imaginable, from drug smuggling to gambling, from prostitution to bootlegging, and everything in between. Shortly before World War II the authorities began looking into the murder of a Mafia gangster named Boccia -- a murder Genovese had contracted years before -- and he fled to Italy, where he promptly cozied up to Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. During the invasion of Italy in World War II Genovese made himself invaluable to the American military police authorities by informing on local black market rings and drug and weapons dealers; what the MPs didn't know was that as these men were arrested, Genovese replaced them with his own. His scheme was thwarted, however, when an MP investigator -- who had been a New York City detective in civilian life -- recognized Genovese as being wanted for involvement in the Boccia murder, arrested him and had him sent back to the U.S. Unfortunately the only witness in the case was found dead, and Genovese was acquitted.

After the war Genovese built up his drug trade, although many Mafia leaders, including Luciano, thought it was a dangerous business to get into and tried to talk him out of it. Their efforts were in vain, however; there was just too much money in it for Genovese to give it up. By the early 1950s he was head of one of the five New York Mafia families, and began to think that he should be head of all of them. He tried to take over the families of Anastasia and Frank Costello by having both men killed. Costello escaped the attempt on his life and retired, but Anastasia wasn't so lucky and met his end in a New York barber shop in 1957. Eventually Genovese's plan worked, and he was made the "boss of bosses", but unfortunately for him it didn't last very long. Several of his underlings turned on him when they were arrested and began to spill the beans about his heroin-smuggling operation. After an investigation into those activities, Genovese was arrested by federal authorities on drug charges, tried, convicted and sentenced to 15 years in a federal penitentiary. He died in prison in 1969.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: frankfob2@yahoo.com

Spouse (2)

Anna Vernotico (28 March 1932 - ?) ( divorced) ( 2 children)
? (1929 - ?) ( her death)

Trivia (2)

Mario Puzo modeled the character of Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972) on New York mob bosses Frank Costello (January 21, 1891 - February 18, 1973), who was nicknamed the "Prime Minister of the Mob" for his deft handling of La Cosa Nostra, and Vito Genovese (November 27, 1897 - February 14, 1969), a brutal man who almost achieved his dream of making himself "capo di tutti capi" ("Boss of Bosses"). Much of the action of Puzo's book is based on actual events that occurred in the lives of Costello, Genovese and his accomplices. Genovese reigned briefly as the most powerful gangster in America by forcing Costello's retirement after an aborted assassination attempt. Costello and Genovese rose to the top of the Mafia pyramid due to the 1936 arrest and conviction of Lucky Luciano by New York City District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey. When Luciano was jailed, he ran his "family" through Costello and named Genovese underboss. He served in that position for but one year, as in 1937 he was forced into exile in Italy for the better part of a decade (shades of Michael Corleone's exile) after authorities obtained evidence that he ordered the murder of an accomplice. When he expressed his desire to return in 1946, Costello had all the witnesses to the murder - who were conveniently in police custody - killed by poisoning. With the post-War deportation of Luciano, Costello was de facto head of the Luciano (later Genovese) crime family, but the returned Genovese had other plans. Feeling that it was he who should have been named acting boss rather than Costello, Genovese waged a bloody war for dominance after his return in 1946 (around the time The Godfather (1972) action kicks into high gear with the attempted assassination of Don Corleone), eventually resuming his role as Costello's underboss (meeting Luciano in Havana, Cuba, in 1946, Genovese reportedly had a fight with the former Boss of Bosses). Genovese eventually gained control of Luciano's family by ordering the assassination of Costello in 1957. Though shot in the head, Costello survived, but the incident influenced the "Prime Minister" of the underworld to resign his position and go into retirement. Genovese consolidated his power by having former Murder, Inc. boss Albert Anastasia assassinated in the barber shop of New York's Park Sheraton Hotel on October 25, 1957 (shades of Moe Green's murder in "The Godfather"). Genovese reportedly coordinated the infamous Apalachin gangland meeting in upstate New York on November 14, 1957, where he expected to be named Boss of Bosses. However, an alert New York state trooper noticed all the long black limousines and very out-of-place New York City gangster types in town, with the result that the meeting was raided by New York State police. This was the event that forced FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who had long denied its existence, to admit that the Mafia did indeed exist. Angered by the publicity caused by the bust, Luciano and gambling kingpin Meyer Lansky helped a revenge-seeking Costello engineer a drug bust that put Genovese and his allies in jail in 1959.
Is portrayed by Don Carrara in Bugsy (1991).

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