#141: That Thing of Theirs

141.1  Dear Stolf: I was watching the movie “Gotti” with my husband, a Mafia buff. The scene where Anthony Quinn as Neil Dellacroce tells Armand Asante as John Gotti that Carlo Gambino has died…and has named Paul Castellano the new boss. Gotti is outraged, thinking “Mr. Neil” deserved it, but Dellacroce puts up his hand and says “He picked his brother-in-law….that is it!” My husband said: “No, actually Carlo and Big Paul were cousins.” So who’s right? …from Sally Tomatoes, Whippany NJ

141.2  Dear Sally: I’m right! And what I say is: they were both…Carlo Gambino and Paul Castellano were both first cousins and brothers-in-law. OK, so if they were brothers-in-law, that means one of them married the sister of the other…but if they were cousins…

chart 493.png

141.3   …yes, that would mean Carlo Gambino married his 1st cousin Catherine Castellano…Carlo’s mother’s brother’s daughter. Oddly enough, Carlo’s brother Paul Gambino married another cousin, also named Catherine Castellano. That’s only noteworthy because 2 brothers marrying women with the same names is so unusual…cousins marrying cousins among these clans was not unusual, both over here and in the old country, both LCN and civilians. It’s just that the Gambinos and the Castellanos were especially intertwined….so much so that Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy ordered an investigation into their family connections, on the supposed theory that such close intermarriages yield “imbeciles and morons.” And an FBI informant in the early 1960s stated that Genovese family acting boss Tommy Eboli hated Carlo Gambino, and once characterized the Gambino family as “degenerates” after learning that one of its soldier had been killed for having an affair with his own mother-in-law. Ahem…

141.4  So that answers your question…both 1st cousins and brothers-in-law. Why they put it one way and not the other, or both ways, in the movie “Gotti” I can’t say. Perhaps to spare the sensitive feelings of the modern viewing public. An educated guess would be that in real life, Carlo and Paul were thought of more as cousins than in-laws, since they were cousins first…and many LCN alliances go back to childhood…granted Carlo was 13 years older than Paul.

141.5  I should mention in passing that RFK’s maternal grandfather, John Francis “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, one-time mayor of Boston, married his 2nd cousin. But the truth is, cousin marriages were not the anathema a few generations ago that they are today…it’s just that the Gambinos/Castellano connections were much more extensive than some would have thought appropriate, the Genoveses for one. For example, when Paul Castellano married Nina Manno, described as his “childhood sweetheart,” in 1937, it is routinely said that she was “already Carlo Gambino’s sister-in-law”…Carlo married in 1932. And here we have a problem…

chart 494.png

141.6  Chart 494 adds on all the relevant siblings…this information comes from census records, individual genealogies, and even declassified FBI reports on the net, which are heavily redacted, but still yield valuable information. Granted, much of this can be shadowy…you won’t find Carlo Gambino listed in the Ellis Island records…he came here as an illegal stowaway and never became a naturalized citizen. From the internet chatter, non-LCN branches of these families find some ancestral connections shrouded in secrecy…”not talked about” is the way they put it. But that’s a problem that seems to impact current generations…going back, the information is fairly solid…after all, these are public figures…famous, or at least infamous, nez pah?

141.7  So…we find Paul Castellano had 2 sisters…Carlo Gambino had 2 brothers. Now if Paul’s wife Nina Manno really were Carlo’s sister-in-law, she would either be his wife’s sister…not possible, since that would mean Paul married his own sister, which he didn’t…or the wife of one of Carlo’s brothers, which is also not possible, since the whole point is she married Paul Castellano, not a Gambino brother…unless of course she did marry a Gambino brother, who died before she married Paul…which seems unlikely, given she was Paul’s childhood sweetheart…and sure enough, I can find no record of such a first marriage, not even a hint.

141.8  There is a third alternative to being “Carlo’s sister-in-law”…Nina could be the sister of one of Carlo’s brother’s wives. I don’t count that as an in-law, but some people do. Well, she couldn’t be Paul Gambino’s wife’s sister because then she’d be a Castellano, not a Manno. So it all hinges on that mysterious “other” Gambino brother, labeled “????” in Chart 494.

3rd brother.png

141.9  And here there is some dispute…altho not for nothing, it’s settled in my mind at least. The above quote from Uncle Wiki (top) is the whole problem. Parenthetically, what is “who later married” supposed to mean? That when he was born, as Carlo’s brother, he wasn’t married yet…but had to wait a while? 😉 😉 Trouble is, you will see these exact words on dozens of other website, copied verbatim from Uncle Wiki. I can find no other mention of a “Gaspare” Gambino anywhere…census records show several Caspers and Jaspers, but none that match up correctly with the rest of the family.

141.10  No, Carlo Gambino’s other brother is Giuseppe or Joseph, born in 1908…and we know this how? Because it is well documented that it was Joseph’s son Emanuel or Manny* who was kidnapped and killed in May of 1972, allegedly by the Irish mob…and John Gotti subsequently “made his bones” by killing the main perpetrator, at Carlo’s behest. There is still some mystery to this whole story…there is evidence that Manny staged his own kidnapping initially as a hoax, and the whole deal went sour…exit Manny. Altho Manny made his living as a loan shark, and apparently was over-extended at the time of his death, it appears he wasn’t a “made man”…or as Carlo says in “Gotti,” not one of us. Whether his father Joseph was LCN is more difficult to determine. But at any rate, we’ve now got it narrowed down to this: Who was Manny’s mother…who did Joseph Gambino marry?

* …and welcome to the Wild Wild World of Misinformation…you will occasionally see it claimed that Manny was Carlo’s son…not!

141.11  One bit of information has emerged…one Joseph Gambino appears in the 1940 census records…his age checks, born in 1908…he lives in Brooklyn, so that also checks (there were other Joseph Gambinos, of varying ages, in Manhattan, Buffalo, and New Jersey.) And he has a son Thomas born in 1934, not 1932 as on the headstone, who had 2 younger sisters. This Joseph’s wife’s name is Rose. Nina Manno had only one sibling, a sister…the census calls her Mary in 1920, Marie in 1930. It’s not impossible that Rose and Mary/Marie are one and the same, but for now, that’s as far as I’ve gotten. So at best, Nina could be Carlo’s sister-in-law in the looser sense…not his brother’s wife, but his brother’s wife’s sister…if  Rose Gambino is Mary/Marie Manno …a big if IMHO.

141.12  I should also mention that it is sometimes claimed that Carlo Gambino’s own parents were themselves 1st cousins. I feel confident in stating that if there were cousins, it wasn’t 1st cousins. If your parents are 1st cousins, you have 2 grandparents who are siblings…that’s not the case here. Carlo’s paternal grandparents were Thomas Gambino Sr.  and Rose Carollo…maternal, Paul Castellano and Catherine Vella…no siblings that I can see. 2nd cousins, 3rd cousins, not impossible, but I haven’t gone there…not enough hours in the day…

wicked ballsy

richard c.png

Then we have Richard Salvatore Castellano, who was Peter Clemenza in “The Godfather.” He also starred in 2 short-lived sitcoms…”Joe and Sons” and “The Super,” from which the above group shot is taken…his son there was played by Bruno Kirby, who also played young Clemenza in “The Godfather Part II.”  He is routinely referred to as the nephew of Paul Castellano. Since Paul had no brothers…as far as I can determine, and mind you I could always be wrong…that seems unlikely. Could he be the son of one of Paul’s 1st cousins? Again, I believe Paul had only one Castellano uncle, Uncle Frank, and he appears to have had only 2 daughters, as per Chart 494.

chart 495.png

Census records don’t provide an obvious connection between Richard and Paul…Chart 495 goes back to Richard’s grandfather Angelo Castellano…but again, I’m completely open to the possibility that they are indeed family…just don’t see how yet…any help out there?


Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


4 thoughts on “#141: That Thing of Theirs

  1. I would like to know because I just found out that big Paul Castellano is my great uncle I believe….? Richard s Castellano who also played a part in the “god father” is a 3rd cousin to me. Was a 3rd cousin. I believe he died of a heart attack. So I would really like to know who my family is.

    • If Paul Castellano was your grand uncle, he would have been your grandfather’s brother. As far as I can determine, Paul had 2 older sisters but no brothers. What were the names of your father and grandfather?

      • I would be related to him through my mother’s side. Grandpa Ralph Castellano. I’m trying to piece together a family tree. I don’t know enough about this side of the family to do so. Being mob and all, the family kept a lot quiet. I’m just now finding out about all of this and I’m in my 30s.

  2. My uncle knows family names. But I haven’t had the chance of speaking with him much yet on this topic. I will comment names and who they are once I know more. I know he mentioned a Toni. A great uncle toni. Who was good friends with perry como. He told me that big Paul Castellano was good friends with frank Sinatra. Like I said I’m still learning things.

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