Screwed his mind up," Franzese said of his estranged son. 1966. He and Sonny, though, had an uneasy relationship, as each jousted to assert dominance. He asserted that no one in history has done what he did and grandiosely even compared himself to Jesus Christ. You asked the question the wrong way, Franzese replied. Copyright 2023 Newsday. Podell also kept close to Sonny. He didn't leave the life behind; he just found a way to repackage it. Over the years, Franzese listed his legitimate work as a tailor, a baker and a salesman. Johnny got up, but couldnt help but protest: Sonny, youre too much. McShane writes for the New York Daily News. The mourners who came down the steps included 90-year-old Dr. Louis Barricelli, who grew up with Fanzese and was his physician. Sinatra might have been high-handed, but Sonny felt a certain affinity for the singer. He was also a regular at the Copacabana and met such stars as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. on a frequent basis. Sandra Peddie has been a special writer on Newsday's investigations team since 1993. What do you expect a guy to turn out to be? Sonny told them. After being sentenced for a period of 50 years, Franzese offered only this premonitory remark: I bet I do everyone.. His son Michael, who initially followed his father into the crowd, eventually left organized crime and became a born-again Christian and motivational speaker. He was 103 years old. His son Michael, who initially followed his father into the mob, eventually left organized crime and became a born-again Christian and motivational speaker. I couldnt believe it myself sometimes.. Football She died in 2012. I'm gonna do the whole 50". relationship He was wrong. When he made his entrancestriding briskly, confidently, and with a slight smilea frisson of excitement rippled through the crowd. Franzese was born in Naples and came to New York as a young boy, part of a massive migration of Italians arriving in New York by 1920. Shell listen to me. But it is also clear that as he pushes through the infirmities of old age he has a pacemaker, hearing aids and is nursing a broken hip the prospect of death and a possible afterlife are not far from his mind. Franzese, widely admired and respected in the Mafia for sticking to his oath of omerta and keeping silent, was finally freed in 2017 at the age of 100. Al moved to Chicago in the 1920s then Alcatraz after in the early 30s. Get the day's top news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning. To Sonny, that was tantamount to throwing down the gauntlet. He was chasing me all over the place. The disclosure was made by George Masters, Monroes hair and make-up stylist, in recordings he made a month before his death in 1998. I heard about you, Franzese said. So I got very close to him. A grandson also spoke. He was my hero.. But Franzeses commercial side was darker: he had once admitted killing 10 men during a 2006 chat with a mafia informant, with other estimates of his mob murders reaching 60. He apparently assumed his estranged wife would not follow him there. His son John Franzese Jr. had testified against him, becoming the first son of a New York mobster to turn state's evidence and testify against his father. He was a good guy. He held his staff to high standards and involved himself in all the minutiae of running a club, from supervising the kitchen staff to picking the talent. [4] Franzese used Buddah to launder illegal mob earnings and to bribe disc jockeys with payola. stars After he was sentenced to a 50-year stretch, Franzese offered only this prescient observation: Ill bet I do every one.. He laughed along with his companions; they were always kidding around. By the 1960s, he controlled half the Colombo familys rackets on Long Island and was seen as the familys next boss, according to law enforcement sources. The bronze coffin was covered with an American flag in recognition of Franzeses service during World War II, even though it was cut short for reasons that are not entirely clear. Screwed his mind up.. Im feeling her ass. Franzeses son Michael remembers that when he and his father were discussing business, his father would routinely lead him into the bathroom of their Roslyn home and turn on the water to drown out their conversation. He chuckled. Tops When Sonny Franzese died last month at age 103, he was the last living remnant of the New York Mafia from its heyday. Once again, John Franzese had beaten the system. [4], In the late 1930s, Franzese worked under Joseph Profaci, boss of the Profaci crime family (later named the Colombo crime family). Dont forget, I fought everybody.. But he did it.. The charges, ranging from vagrancy to rape, all followed a strikingly similar pattern they were either dismissed or he was acquitted. politics . Sonny frequented all the citys top clubs, but he felt most at home at the Copacabana, with its roster of glittering acts and Copa Girls dance line. The first hint to someone not in the know only came when the priest, Monsignor David Cassato, offered a joke. Sonny Franzese, pictured at age 100, was in prison for much of the latter part of his life. For all his murky past, he was a stickler for outward appearances. As a "made man" for the Colombo crime family, he . Legendary Colombo family capo John (Sonny) Franzese, who rubbed elbows with Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe before a bank robbery rap eventually made him the nation's oldest federal. She added, I give that advice to all my female colleagues, too. That advice was accompanied by a warning. Interesting interview. [34] While married, John had gotten Cristina Capobianco, a 16-year-old cigarette girl at the Stork Club in Manhattan, pregnant with his son Michael Franzese. Credit: Newsday / Ari Mintz, I was a firm believer that if a guy knew something about you, you had to worry about it, he said, referring to the men who actually robbed the banks and later testified that he was the mastermind behind them. The elder Franzese was born in Sicily, moving with his family as a child to Brooklyn. Africa Down in the darkened arena, a very different personal drama was playing out. He was 103 years old. Julie Podell thought I was the best thing that ever happened to him., It undoubtedly had a lot to do with business. For one, investigators said that Franzese had largely been able to avoid murder charges because of his knack for making bodies disappear. Over the course of the ensuing decades, Franzese cemented his reputation as one of New Yorks flashiest mobsters. He became a boccie player and a handball champion. Sonny today Alert, animated and with slightly graying hair, he claimed to have struck up relationships with Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and the 1950s television star Dagmar. China When Costello went to prison, Winchell wrote: [The] New York situation is fluid. /r/Mafia features stories, interviews, documentary and news articles about organized crime around the world. On August 20, 1962, about two weeks . No Frank Sinatra, no Dean Martin. She replied that her husband, Mickey Hargitay (who was 1955s Mr. Universe), would take her home. Sinatra? George specifically told me that Marilyn spent the evening with Sam Giancana. Im going to have it with her. business But it wasnt announced until two years later. In an interview, John said he had become sober in 2001 after battling a yearslong drug addiction. Privacy Policy |Terms of service |Subscription terms |Your ad choices |Cookie Settings |California Privacy Rights |About Us |Contact Newsday |Reprints & permissions |Advertise with Newsday |Help. Franzese was 21 when he was arrested for the first time on charges of assault in 1938. diets In college you couldnt bring a phone book with you, Maurice noted, saying Franzese could remember a thousand different phone numbers., He would rattle off these phone numbers, rattle off these names, tell you what to do, Maurice recalled. You should have asked, Did Frank Sinatra know Sonny Franzese?. They had met years earlier when he was performing at the Rustic Cabin, a roadhouse in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, and a fight broke out. As a caporegime, Michael was making $5-10m weekly from a petrol bootlegging scheme, involving the Russian Mafia.Watch my interview on Michael Franzese's channel:\u0026t=64sSupport us on Patreon here: Attwood merch: Attwood's social media:TikTok:'s website:'s Insta:'s Twitter: on YouTube:'s clothing company on Insta: on FB: Gold's links: YouTube: On the Edge with Andrew Gold Podcast - Twitter: Dr DAS' CHANNEL: Dr DAS\" social media: TWITTER - FACEBOOK - INSTAGRAM - our true crime podcasts: all of our Wild Man videos: UK Wild Woman, Sammy the Bull Gravano, Arizona, Mexico: Kerry Osborne:\u0026list=PLPT_cCpNMvT50d_7cJ55ciKoZEY8q_YPt\u0026index=3Watch our Royal Family videos here: Watch John Abbott's California San Quentin prison stories: gangsters playlist: our full interview with a Mafia hit man for the Gambino crime family:\u0026list=PLPT_cCpNMvT50d_7cJ55ciKoZEY8q_YPt\u0026index=6\u0026t=9075sWatch smuggling stories with David McMillan: donation links: Patreon: Man T-shirts:'s Website: Shaun's Blog: #truecrime #mafia #thegodfather #franzese #gravano #sammythebull #podcast At the time of his release on June 23, 2017, at the age of 100, he was the oldest federal inmate in the United States and the only centenarian in federal custody. The informant got off with probation and was allowed to keep the money he had stolen. I dont know. Maurice also recounted a story from the 1960s, before Franzese was sent to prison. One night while the singer was performing onstage, Sonny struck up a conversation with her. Though its unclear exactly how John Franzese died, it is clear that his death closes yet another chapter in the ongoing history of gangs in New York. He hated prisonbut set his mind to making the most of it. Got A Tip? Doubt she wastes her time with someone like Sonny at that point. Sonny Franzese (left) with famous boxer Rocky Graziano (center). Youre chasing me off the table., Sonny replied, I cant have sex with you. . Wikimedia CommonsOne of John Franzeses many mugshots. His father, Carmine (The Lion) Franzese, had considerable prestige in the Mafia, according to Treasury Department records. Health He and three fellow Brooklyn vocalists made the send-off all the more unlike what anybody might expect. A new account claims she spent the night before her death at his retreat in Lake Tahoe She flew home to Los Angeles early the following. He was sentenced to eight more years. Today, Franzeseregularly uses a wheelchair to get around. Salary in 2022. Franzese defies many mob stereotypes. My father was a chameleon, Michael said. Longtime Colombo under-boss John " Sonny " Franzese is the living embodiment of the ultimate mob rule bragging in an interview about refusing to rat despite it making him the oldest federal. The mortal remains of John Sonny Franzese were then carried back out to the hearse. The pastor said, I will make a phone call, Maurice recounted. But he did it." Now, Franzese who once ran in the same crowd as Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and Dagmar lives a much quieter life. Family business. Jeffrey Basinger/Newsday via Getty Images. At 100 years old, mobster John (Sonny) Franzese the oldest inmate in the federal prison system was released Friday from a Massachusetts . A letter was found recently that appears to confirm the long-held rumor that Bobby Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe had an affair. [7][4] He was also a boxing fan of Rocky Graziano. The elder Franzese clearly did more than just cash in on the Shirelles. Its human nature.At the same time, he advised, As a leader, I needed to subdue my ego and do whats best for the organization.. Once asked if he knew Sinatra, the gangster was quick to turn around the question: You asked the question the wrong way. By The procession then departed, taking with it an era and in no need of flower cars. The women went crazy.. In 1966, he was charged with murdering a rival gangster and dumping the body into a bay after chaining cement blocks to the victims feet. They went to the church for help, lacking even the subway fare to get home. That I promise.. He was 103 years old. After six months, his family returned with Franzese to their home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where his father ran a bakery. He also said at work not to trust anyone, she recalled. Gardner was beautiful and tempestuous, and everyone knew Sinatra was hopelessly in love with her. I wouldnt turn around., Sinatra was used to being in charge, but not when Sonny was around. [1][2][3] His parents had already immigrated to the United States at the time of his birth, and were back in Italy for a visit. Now you may not believe this, but, so help me God, she told it to meshe says to me, I made a lot of pictures. Nick Sorrentino/NY Daily News Archive via Getty ImagesJohn Sonny Franzese. Send it to The Daily Beasthere. Lidia Yuknavitch on Her Philosophy of Teaching, What Should You Read Next? John "Sonny" Franzese Sr. (Italian: [frantseze; -ese]; February 6, 1917 - February 24, 2020) was an Italian-born American mobster who was a longtime member and former underboss of the Colombo crime family.. Franzese's career in organized crime began in the 1930s and spanned over eight decades. Later, he would become convinced that his affair with Monroewho was rumored to have been involved with Kennedys brother, U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, toowas what brought the wrath of the U.S. government down on him. United States of America And on June 23, 2017, thanks to good behavior and credit for time served, the 100-year-old Franzese was released from prison. Younger men are springing up on all sides, including Joey Gallo, Sonny Franzese, etc. It was so much part of who I am as a man, good or bad. John Jr., 58 Franzeses favorite child wore a wire to gather evidence against the Colombos. He was so much a part of who I am as a man, good or bad. The indictments came in rat-a-tat fashion: In March, the Manhattan district attorney charged him with being the muscle man in a $10 million bookmaking ring in the garment district. Corona Virus His book on business was called An Offer They Can't Refuse, for fuck's sake. Crowd tradition claimed that the early gangster became a man made at the age of 14, and he was soon conducting a crowd-controlled craps game. John "Sonny" Franzese Photos. Patrons and performers were solicitously attended to by a fleet of uniformed employees, all overseen by the vigilant eye of manager Jules Podell. I liked him.. By 1935, when he was 18, he said, he was running the largest craps game in New York. What if Sam Giancana said, Look, Frank, you didnt get it done. Marilyn was gorgeous, forget about it.. In a December 2006 conversation secretly taped by a mob associate, Gaetano Fatato, Franzese said as much himself: I killed a lot of guys youre not talking about four, five, six, 10.. He worked in the record business and grossed part of the mafias alleged investment in the classic porn movie Deep Throat reportedly securing a piece of his alleged $ 600 million gross. Nonetheless, Franzese said he has no regrets about his life. [36] However, in 1971, shortly after his father had been sentenced to 50 years in prison for bank robbery, he decided to drop out of college to help his family earn money. document.getElementById( "ak_js_1" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() ); Abroad Her boyfriend was not far away on stage, but Sonny was not at all concerned. I dont know what happened to him. Still do. A cause of death was not announced. But his real job was like a gangster, authorities said, and living a better life. I got my hands in there. He was, after all, Sonny Franzese. Legendary New York mobster John "Sonny" Franzese, the former underboss of the Colombo crime family, has died at 103, according to TMZ. [20], Franzese's son, John Franzese Jr. became a government informant. But one of the actual bank robbers took the stand to say Franzese had overseen the heists. However, Franzese ultimately beat the case. Ukraine Though he evaded capture for years, Sonny Franzeses criminal ways did eventually catch up with him but not before he skated by the law one more time. [34][35] Franzese had four more children with Capobianco, who died in 2012. [10][5][4] He was arrested with nine other people on April 13, 1966,[11] and during his trial, the prosecution produced records that claimed that Franzese had killed between 30 and 50 people. Nobodys girlfriend or wife was off limits to him, not even the wife of his idol, baseball great Joe DiMaggio. He was back at Mount Carmel on Friday for the funeral. Though frail, he was all smiles. Franzese was sentenced to an indeterminate term with a maximum of 50 years, which essentially meant he could get out if he decided to cooperate with the government. Nutt y son of a gun. Sonny and Gardner never did anything more than the few moments of groping each other in a back room, but it was still a conquest to Sonny. His own son, John Jr., testified against him. He is believed to have been elevated to caporegime or captain in the Colombo family in the mid 1950s by Profaci. Anything you need, you call me, Cassato said. Sonny was tough as nails. Notorious Colombo crime underboss John 'Sonny' Franzese Sr - known as 'The Nodfather' for falling asleep during one of his trials - has died at the age of 103. Getty ImagesJohn Sonny Franzese is escorted by police in 1967. Your wifes a whore? There were no flower cars outside the funeral of 103-year-old John Sonny Franzesebut gospel music, funny stories, and eulogies from his loving grandkids made it much grander. He then testified against his father, 93 at the time, and later entered the federal witness protection program. One time, I met an FBI agent on the street, Franzese said. Maybe all the drugs he took. Daniel Bates In New York, Isabel Oakeshott receives 'menacing' message from Matt Hancock, Beaming Harry and Meghan enjoy date night at private members' club, Ken Bruce finishes his 30-year tenure as host of BBC Radio 2, Pavement where disabled woman gestured at cyclist before fatal crash, Pro-Ukrainian drone lands on Russian spy planes exposing location, 'Buster is next!' He served as underboss of the Colombo family from 1963 until he was sentenced to 50 years in prison for orchestrating a string of bank robberies across the country in 1967. She closed by reading a note her Sonny Grandpa had written to her. When Kennedys Learned of Marilyn Monroe & Sonny Franzese's Relationship: Michael Franzese 5,011 views Jun 27, 2022 Watch full Franzese podcast:. He didnt deny himself. I wasnt a guy that was afraid, you know, he said. government The money flows in. Because its my principle.. Now 102 years old, John (Sonny) Franzese, the longtime underboss of the Colombo crime family, is the epitome of the old-style crime chieftain. Just doing the numbers and the only way sonny met Al wouldve been as a young pre teen kid. But after violating parole by associating with known mobsters, he was placed back in prison in 1982 only to be inexplicably paroled again in 1984. If he guaranteed a deal, people knew it was good, said his son John. [22] Franzese Jr. was allegedly also responsible for his father's fourth parole violation, but was accepted back into his confidence after denying the allegations in tears, saying, "I would never do that, no matter what kind of trouble I had. Cassato turned solemn without being somber at the end of the funeral, saying that Franzese now rested in Gods love and grace. Linked by law enforcement to multimillion-dollar bookmaking, loan sharking and extortion rackets and caught on tape alluding to multiple murders he claimed to have committed, he remained mute through more than 35 years behind bars as mob boss after mob boss violated the mobscode of silence in exchange for lighter prison sentences. eurobasket All the top entertainers in the country, in the world, they all wanted to work there, Sonny said. Yet he was tried for murder only once, and he was acquitted. After the 2004 incarceration of John "Jackie" DeRoss, Franzese was again promoted to Colombo family underboss in 2005, for the first time since his 1967 imprisonment, by Thomas Gioeli. He chuckled as he perused old photos of himself in the tabloids, looking both fierce and dapper in his cashmere overcoat. But then, in 1967, he was convicted for his involvement in a bank robbery and sentenced to 50 years in prison. Sonny was born circa 1919. John (Sonny) Franzese is escorted down a staircase by armed officers at Nassau County police headquarters in Mineola on Jan.5, 1967, on his way to an arraignment. [5] In 1942, in the midst of World War II, he was drafted to the United States Army, but was discharged later that year classified as "psychoneurotic with pronounced homicidal tendencies". Most importantly in his mob career, Franzese was an earner, making money for the family in a variety of ways. When I was away I heard about you.. I couldnt get a [liquor] license., Asked why he couldnt get a license, he said, smiling, I was a bad guy.. See? Maurice said. He thought every girl was, was in love with him. [4], In 1967, Franzese gained a financial interest in a new recording company, Buddah Records. He didnt squeal on nobody., His toughness earned him the reverence of street hoods and a grudging respect from law enforcement. Despite the entreaties of FBI agents and a 50-year prison sentence for a crime he swears he didnt commit, Franzese did his time and never talked. Authorities believe he was responsible for the murders of 50 to 100 people. You have notifications blocked. All are sealed, according to the court. See, I used to play it right. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Franzese also told Fatato that he put nail polish on his fingertips before a murder to avoid leaving fingerprints at the crime scene. Celebrities, socialites, and sports stars all jockeyed for a coveted table amid the faux palm trees. He could be heard saying on one tape that he had committed numerous murders, but he was acquitted the only time he was ever charged with homicide. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover listed Franzese's prison term among the bureau's major achievements for 1967, along with sentences for extortion given to hoodlums Charles Battaglia of Tucson, Arizona, and Sam Battaglia of . 09:25 GMT 28 Apr 2011 He was 103. Franzese looks far younger than he is and remembered details of the various criminal charges against him with clarity, particularly those surrounding the bank robbery conspiracy that he insists he was not involved in. Legendary Colombo crime family mobster John Sonny Franzese, who hung out with Frank Sinatra and befriended Marilyn Monroe before a bank robbery conviction eventually made him the nations oldest federal inmate, has died at a New York City hospital. Although Monroe's death was officially ruled a "probable suicide". I really think the FBI did it, he says. She had once asked him how he managed not to imbibe and still fit in during his days as a man about town at nightclubs with the real lookers., He said the waiters only put just enough white wine in the seltzer so others would think he was drinking, she remembered.