Richard S. Castellano, full name, Richard Salvatore Castellano was born on September 4, 1933. He was an Italian-American Actor. He is well known for his Oscar-nominated role in Lovers and Other Strangers and subsequently as Peter Clemenza in the Godfather. He was previously a construction company manager then he got into the New Yiddish Theatre. He did not stop there and broke into movies. He made an impactful gangster performance and acted as typecast on screen. Richard was born to an Italian Catholic Family in Bronx,
New York. As told by Richard’s widow, he was the nephew of Gambino Crime Family boss Paul Castellano. Richard acquired worldwide fame for the character he played in “Lover and other Strangers” in the year 1970. He was nominated for the Oscars for his performance.
He acclaimed further stardom for portraying Peter Clemenza for The Godfather in the year 1972. The godfather collected the highest grossing film up to that time. Castellano along with several other cast members became popular throughout the world. He ad-libbed movie’s most famous lies, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli”. Castellano worked in television situation comedy called, “
The Super”. He played the protagonist role of Joe Girelli. The series was 10 episodes long and appeared in the year 1972. His real-life daughter played his character’s daughter. His daughter’s name is Margaret and the character she played was called Joanne. Richard also played the lead role of Joe Vitale in the show “Joe and Sons” in 1975 and 1976. Richard did not reiterate his role in The Godfather part II as Clemenza in the year 1974.
He was eliminated reportedly because Castellano and his agent were emphatic on having control over the dialogues of the character. Director of the movie,
Francis Ford Coppola, cast Castellano out of the film. Richard’s widow debated about this account in 1991 letter to People Magazine. She also wrote a book in 2002 describing his contribution to the film and his life experiences and upbringing in a remote family. Richard clarified that he did not get the part since he did not accept that the character like Clemenza would come out to be a traitor. He also had several disagreements with Coppola as to how much weight he was supposed to lose for the role. Later, Bruno Kirby played Clemenza as a young man in The Godfather Part II. Earlier, he had portrayed the son of Richard’s character in the Super. Richard S. Castellano died of
Heart Attack at the age of 55 in 1988.