These mobsters inspired movies such as “Goodfellas”, “Donnie Brasco”, “The Godfather” and countless Mafia TV series.
Huge Hollywood actors such as Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci or Al Pacino made them look more human and even charming.
However the real face of the mobsters who inspired all these productions is different: they have no scruples, they didn’t think twice to kill people, people who got in the way of making money.
Most of these famous mobsters – famous because they killed or ordered the death of many people – ended up being killed or behind bars.
Let’s see who they are.
Like most mobsters who were careful not to get caught by the police carrying illegal weapons, Anthony Mirra, a member of the Bonnano family, always had a knife with him.
He wasn’t so popular in his circles because he was very violent and had a displeasing personality. He was a known womanizer however he was also very violent with women. One time he threatened to kill a woman he was dating after finding out that she is a lesbian.
Anthony Mirra made the history pages as being the one who introduced FBI Agent Joseph Pistone ( aka Donnie Brasco ) to the Bonnano family.
After 5 years, when he found out that Brasco as an undercover FBI agent, he went into hiding being aware that nobody will defend him in front of the bosses.
In 1984, Anthony Mirra was shot in the back of the head by Joseph D’Amico, also a member of the Bonnano family, in his car.
Raised on the streets, famous mobster Carmine “Lilo” Galante started his career as a mobster at a very young age as he joined a gang when he was still in his teens. He was arrested for the first time at the age of 14 and sentenced to juvenile detention. Two years later, he was sent to jail for assault.
Without fear and with a good sense of business, Galante joined the Mafia during the prohibition.
After 9 years in prison, Carmine Galante became a hit man for the Genovese family. His contribution to the family business landed him 12 years in federal prison, where he enjoyed special privileges.
While he was in prison, Galante was diagnosed with psychopathy. After he got out on parole, he became the boss of the Bonnano family and he ordered the assassination of many of his rivals, not allowing anyone to stand in his way of making money.
Carmine Galante was killed, in 1970, along with his bodyguard, at the order of Alphonse “Sonny Red” Indelicato.
A fierce hit man and member of the Gambino family, Roy DeMeo is known for putting together a group of professional killers who conducted their “business” based on the Gemini Method.
The name comes from the Gemini Lounge, DeMeo’s Brooklyn bar, a place where, according to the FBI, between 75 and 200 people were killed.
Roy DeMeo was shot to death in 1983 however it’s not clear who his killer is.
Albert Anastasia was the leader of a fierce group of professional hitmen. Named “Murder, Inc” by the media, the group allegedly killed approximately 700 people. Working under famous mobsters like Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Frank Costello, Anastasia eventually became the boss of the Gambino family.
He gained respect because he was cruel, but he also gained the hate of other famous mobsters. Albert Anastasia became the victim of a power war, and it seems that he was killed at the order of Joe Profaci, the boss of the Columbo family.
Abe “Kid Twist” Reles
One of the most famous “employees” or “Murder, Inc” was Abe “Kid Twist” Reles. He took care of “business” through blackmail and then moved on to loansharking.
The ice pick was his murder of choice. In 1940, Reles became an informant and he testified against his “business partners”, including against Albert Anastasia. He passed away after diving from the window of a hotel, in 1941, however it’s not clear if he committed suicide or if he was killed.
The son of a butcher, Paul Castellano was the boss of the Gambino Mafia family. With a good eye for business, Castellano took out the family members who broke the unwritten laws without loosing too much sleep over his decisions.
One example is Nicholas Scibetta, who was a known drug addict and made a fatal mistake: he threatened the daughter of a respected member of the Gambino family and went to the police after he was beaten by the son of a business partner.
Paul Castellano ordered the assassination of Scibetta and the only part of his body that was ever found was one of his hands.
Allegedly, Castellano was also the one who gave the order to have Roy DeMeo killed as he suspected him of being an informant.
Considered a disgusting but very creative killer, mobster Richard Kuklinski liked to freeze the people he killed to prevent medical examiners from establishing the time of death. He said that he killed more than 100 people, and in an interview from prison he even described his methods of killing people. He said that he often used poison and grenades and, one time, he left his victim in a cave full of rats.
After 30 years as a professional killer, he was arrested in 1987 and two years later he was sentenced to life in prison. He died behind bars at the age of 70 however his death was controversial because he was supposed to testify in the lawsuit against another famous mobster, Sammy The Bull Gravano, who was accused of killing a NYPD officer.
Born in Brooklyn, Casso bragged he has many police officers on his payroll, police officers that often do murder for hire. Two of these police officers were sent to prison for blackmail and murder. Hunted by the FBI and made the boss of the Lucchese family, without his will, Casso moved to New Jersey.
Just like all famous mobsters, Anthony Casso publicly displayed his hatred against informants however he became one of them after he was given a deal in exchange for his testimony. The deal fell off and Anthony Casso is still serving time in prison.
He killed for the first time in 1970, in self defense. His victim was Joe Colluci, who intended to kill Gravano and one of his associates, Tommy Spero. This got himself noticed in the Mafia and he later became a made man.
Gravano also had a part in the plot which lead to the murder of Paul Castellano in 1985, at the order of John Gotti.
One year later, when Gotti went to prison Gravano helped him run the family.
However, Sammy Gravano turned against John Gotti as he became an informant and he testified against him. Gravano was included in the witness protection program and relocated to Arizona, however he started to deal drugs with the Aryan Nation. Currently, he is serving 19 years in prison for drug traffic.
Frank Balistrieri often used explosives to kill his targets and this made many of his enemies buy remote controls to remotely start the engine of their cars.
An educated man, Frank had business with casinos from Las Vegas, which gave some of the profits to the Chicago mafia.
In 1985, Frank Balistrieri was found guilty for blackmail and illegal gambling and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was released in 1991 however he passed away two years later from heart disease.