Vincent Gigante was an American mobster who was boss of the Genovese crime family in New York City. To avoid prosecution he feigned insanity often wandering the streets in a bathrobe and talking to himself. This earned him the nickname: The Oddfather”.
The Sopranos creators were often contacted by the FBI and told that actual mobsters, whose conversations were picked up by wiretaps, had plenty to say about the show. They considered the show’s portrayal of the mob life so dead-on, they thought one of their own was was working on the inside.
Lenny Montana, the actor who played Luca Brasi in The Godfather was actually a member of the Colombo crime family sent to monitor the set. Coppola cast him, but due to his nerves, he kept making mistakes and repeating his lines to himself. This was then incorporated into the film as a character.
Mafia boss Lucky Luciano’s “favorite assassin”, “Red” Levine, an Orthodox Jew never planned to murder from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. If he had to make the hit on Shabbat, he would first put on a prayer shawl, say his prayers, and then do the job.
Frank Sinatra was friends with JFK. In 1962, in anticipation of a presidential visit, Sinatra had a helipad built at his house in Palm Springs. When JFK snubbed him and ended their friendship (due to Sinatra’s alleged mob ties), Sinatra grabbed a sledge hammer and smashed up the helipad.
A two hour live special featuring the opening of a secret vault owned by Al Capone was aired, hosted by Geraldo Rivera. 30 million people tuned in to watch as it was opened…only to find it was empty aside from some debris. It was the most watched syndicated special that year.
During the heyday of The Sopranos FBI wiretaps of the real mafia revealed that the show was so realistic the real mobsters thought there was a connected guy feeding story lines for the show.
In the 1990s, a Russian mafia and Italian mafia organization participated in a literal money-laundering scheme, washing and bleaching the ink out of US$1 bills and reprinting them as $100s, for use in the post-Soviet bloc countries, where the bills might avoid detection as counterfeits.
The Mafia helped establish the Gay Bar scene in New York. Fat Tony purchased the Stonewall Inn in 1966 and transformed it into a bar and restaurant. He later bribed the New York Police Department around $1,200 a week to ignore ‘indecent conduct’ occurring behind closed doors.