Carlo “Don Carlo” Gambino was a Sicilian-American mobster and boss of the Gambino crime family, which is still named after him. After the 1957 Apalachin Convention, he unexpectedly seized control of the Commission of the American Mafia. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and bizarre facts about Carlo Gambino.
1. Gambino was inconspicuous and secretive.
2. In 1937, Gambino was convicted of tax evasion, but had his sentence suspended.
3. He lived to the age of 74, when he died of a heart attack in bed “in state of grace,” according to a priest who had given him the Last Rites of the Catholic Church.
4. Gambino was born in the city of Palermo, Sicily, in 1902, to a family that belonged to the Honored Society. The Honored Society was slightly more complicated than the Black Hand of the United States, which was often confused with the American Mafia.
5. Once Benito Mussolini chased a large number of real mafiosi out of Italy, Italian-Americans such as Gambino benefited from the new, better-organized Mafia.
6. Gambino began carrying out murder orders for new mob bosses in his teens.
7. In 1921, at the age of 19, he became a “made man” and was inducted into Cosa Nostra.
8. he was later known as an “original.” He was a cousin and brother-in-law of Gambino crime family mobster Paul Castellano.
9. He had two brothers, Gaspare Gambino, who was never involved with the Mafia, and Paolo Gambino, who played a major role in his brother’s family.
10. Gambino entered the United States on December 23, 1921, at Norfolk, Virginia, the lone passenger aboard the ship SS Vincenzo Florio, and an illegal immigrant.
11. He ate nothing but anchovies and wine during the month-long trip and joined his cousins, the Castellanos, in New York City.
12. There, he joined a crime family headed by Salvatore “Toto” D’Aquila, one of the larger crime families in the city.
13. In the early 1960s, Gambino slowly moved against the prominent Anastasia loyalists, headed by caporegime Armand “Tommy” Rava.
14. Gambino quickly expanded his rackets all over the country. New Gambino rackets were created in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, San Francisco, and Las Vegas.
15. In the 1960s, the Gambino family had 500 soldiers, within 30 crews making the family a $500 million per year enterprise.
16. In 1962, his eldest son Thomas Gambino married the daughter of fellow mob boss Tommy Lucchese, the new head of the Gagliano crime family, whom Gambino would become close to as a partner, friend and relative.
17. It has been theorized that Gambino went so far as to organize the shooting of Joseph Colombo, the head of the Colombo crime family, on June 28, 1971.
18. Gambino was the only mob boss of the Five Families who attended the burial of longtime friend, Charles “Lucky” Luciano.
19. On January 26, 1962, Luciano died of a heart attack at the age of 64 at Napes International Airport. He was buried in St. John Cemetery in Queens in February, 1962, due to Luciano having another funeral in Italy and for the time it took to transport his body back to the United States. More than 2,000 mourners attended his funeral, where Gambino gave his own speech in memory of Luciano, his friend and companion.
20. In December, 1972, a van marked “Organized Crime Control Bureau” began to park outside Gambino’s home in Brooklyn. In the van, the FBI’s mob squad monitored events inside the house using cameras, lip-readers, and audio-surveillance equipment, including microphones and wire-taps that were planted in Gambino’s home.
21. The FBI maintained 24 hour standby in the van, hoping to connect Gambino to organized crime. However, Gambino continued to conduct business in the home using a combination of silent gestures and coded language.
22. According to FBI officials, they once recorded a meeting between Gambino, Aniello Dellacroce and Joseph Biondo, where Biondo said only, “Frog legs,” and Gambino simply nodded.
23. In May, 1972, Gambino’s nephew Emanuel “Manny” Gambino was kidnapped by James McBratney, “Crazy” Eddie Maloney, Warren “Chief” Schurman, Richie Chaisson and Colombo crime family associate Thomas Genovese.
24. On December 4, 1972, Robert Senter was arrested and charged with Gambino’s murder. Senter was a gambler and had fallen in deb with Manny Gambino.
25. In his last years, Gambino still ruled his family and the other New York families with an iron fist, while keeping a low profile both from the public and law enforcement.
26. He had to choose who he would appoint as his successor after his death.
27. He chose his brother in law and capo, Paul Castellano, over his underboss, Aniello Dellacroce. Dellacroce, while disappointed, trusted “the Godfather’s” judgment, and remained silent.
28. Gambino died in the early morning hours of Friday, October 15, 1976, at his home in Massapequa, New York, having watched the television broadcast of the New York Yankees winning the American League pennant the previous evening.
29. His funeral mass was held on October 18, 1976, at the Church of Our Lady of Grace in Brooklyn. Gambino was then entombed within his family’s private room in the Cloister building of Saint John’s Cemetery, Queens in New York City.
30. He is interred beside his wife, Catherine, who had died in 1971. Gambino left behind sons Thomas, Joseph and Carlo, and daughter Phyllis.