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Don Corleone is the main character of Mario Puzo's 1969 novel The Godfather. Don Corleone was born Vito Andolini in Sicily, but forced to flee to America at the age of twelve, after his father was killed by the local Mafia.

In America he took the name of Corleone--according to the book, a town in Sicily famed for its especially vicious Mafiosos--and for many years lived an unassuming life working in the grocery store owned by the father of his best friend (and later consigliere) Genco Abbandando.

When he is fired from the grocery store he is invited to join a ring led by Peter Clemenza that specializes in petty theft and truck hijackings. The gang's success comes to the attention of a man named Fanucci, who claims to be a Mafioso. Fanucci collects a percentage of all the neighborhood's criminal activity, and demands a cut of the Clemenza gang's earnings from a recent truck hijacking.

Don Corleone, instead of paying the percentage, guns down Fanucci in cold blood, and takes over his collections. The Corleone mob accumulates power through the Prohibition years, hiding behind the front of a legitimate olive oil importing business called Genco Pura. They go to war with rival mobs and an Irish gang based on the Westies, defeating them all. The character of Don Corleone seems to be an amalgam of several New York mob figures, most notably Frank Costello and Carlo Gambino.

Don Corleone's troubles begin when Virgil Solozzo, nicknamed "The Turk", approaches him with a plan to go into the drug business. Don Corleone, an old-school "Mustache Pete", is morally opposed to the drug trade, and refuses to provide Solozzo with the police protection he requests. Solozzo, believing that the Don's oldest son Santino Corleone will be easier to deal with, makes an assassination attempt on the Don that seems to be based on Chin Gigante's attempt on Frank Costello.

The Don is seriously injured, and in his absence the Corleone family goes to war, in which Santino is killed, and the Don's youngest son Michael Corleone kills Solozzo and a police captain and is forced to flee to Sicily.

The Don recovers from the attempt, and begins a devious plot to bring back Michael from Sicily and humble his enemies in the Tattaglia and Barzini families. This mirrors Carlo Gambino's takeover of the other four families of New York in the 1960s.

Don Corleone does not live to see the plot, carried out by his son Michael, in which the heads of the other four families are all murdered, as well as poor Moe Greene, whose only crime was to slap around the middle Corleone son, Fredo. Don Corleone dies of an apparent heart attack while gardening.

The Godfather is famously portrayed by Marlon Brando in "The Godfather Part I" (1972). Brando's bloated figure and mouthful-of-marbles diction remain the enduring image of the Don. In the prequel-slash-sequel "The Godfather Part II" (1974), Robert DeNiro played the young Godfather.

Famous sayings of the Godfather:

"Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer".

"If history has taught me anything, it's that you can kill anybody".

"A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."

"You come to my house, on the day my daughter is to be married, and you ask me to do a murder for money."

"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."

courtesy of http://www.moviequotes.com

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