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The Godfather Never Mentions the Mafia Because of Him

Anthony Colombo dies at 71
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2017 1:24 PM CST
He Made Sure The Godfather Wasn't About the Mafia
Marlon Brando, as Don Corleone, in a scene from "The Godfather," a film not technically about the Mafia.   (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures)

The man responsible for making sure the most famous film ever made about the Mafia isn't technically about the Mafia died earlier this month at the age of 71. Anthony Colombo, the son of a mobster and vice president of the Italian-American Civil Rights League, pressured producers of The Godfather to include no uses of, or references to, the terms "Mafia" and "La Cosa Nostra," the New York Times reports. Colombo attributed his success to the league and its peaceful protests. But in reality, had The Godfather referenced the Mafia, it's possible the film would have had "labor troubles, missing scenery, or even missing cast members." Colombo once bragged that the movie wouldn't have gotten made if his organization didn't want it to get made.

But Colombo's influence didn't stop at The Godfather. He also successfully pushed for the removal of "Mafia" and "La Cosa Nostra" from the TV show The FBI and even from Nixon's Justice Department. The Italian-American Civil Rights League also fought an Alka-Seltzer commercial featuring the line: "Mama Mia, that's-a some-a spicy meatball." Despite denying any involvement in the Mafia himself, Colombo at one point believed that "crime is a necessary evil in life." And he was sentenced to 14 years in prison for racketeering conspiracy for running an illegal gambling club. Colombo died Jan. 6 in San Diego of complications from diabetes. Read the full obituary here. (More Mafia stories.)

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