The author of the world’s bestseller book Godfather, Mario Puzo was an Italian-American author and screenwriter who introduced and acquired fame for his mastery in the crime fiction. He had served in the American Army during the World War II before he could make his mark as a world bestseller after a long period of struggle as a writer. Mario Puzo wrote his first novel The Dark Arena during the World War that was published in 1955 and brought him the fame that was followed by his second and third novel The Fortunate Pilgrim and The Runaway Summer of Davie Shaw respectively. His next work The Godfather was the first book that made him a legendry figure winning him the Academy Award and paved way for its sequel The Godfather II. In no time, Mario Puzo was catapulted into front ranks of American authors with the huge success of other novels like The Sicilian and Fools Die. He was a two time winner of academy award winning it in 1972 and 1974 respectively.
Childhood & Early life
Mario Gianluigi Puzo was born on 15 October 1920 in a poor family of Italian immigrants living in Manhattan, New York City. Initially wanted to be an army officer, Mario graduated from the City College of new York and joined the United States Army Air Forces during the World War II. He was rejected by the military due to his weak eyesight and instead was made a public relations officer posted in Germany. Mario Puzo married Lina Broske and the couple had five children; Anthony Puzo, Joseph Puzo, Dorothy Antoinette Puzo, Virginia Erika Puzo and Eugene Puzo.
Mario wrote his first short story at the age of seventeen. He wrote a great deal of it before any one of them was published. At the age of Twenty eight, he considered writing as a career for the first time. He wrote his first novel The Dark Arena after the World War II which was published in 1955. The book received critical acclaim and excellent reviews but did not help him much through his most awful phase of financial crunch. Mario was already working on his second book The Fortunate Pilgrim, which came ten years later in 1964 and met the same success as The Dark Arena. When these two books failed to make something big, he vowed to write a bestseller; again Mafia as the subject.
According to Mario, his interest in the crime genre is likely to have stemmed from his childhood dream of becoming a Don. He had been rejected by many editors before his bestseller novel The Godfather came in 1969. The book is a saga of crime, loyalty, passion and an incredible portrayal of a Don’s family. Its originality goes to this extent that nobody would believed that he wrote it without ‘a real feel of the underworld’.
The book proved to be a record break success and established him as one of the greatest writers in America. The huge success of it gave birth to its two other sequels, The Godfather II and The Godfather III. The fiction has made its way to the silver screen with the film director Francis Ford, who collaborated with Puzo to adopt the sequels into a film. Mario Puzo received the academy award for both The Godfather and The Godfather II.
Road to success
For Mario, there was no looking back after The Godfather. He continued to write bestselling novels. His follow up book Fools die came in 1978 and continued to be ranked on the New York Times bestseller list for at least 30 weeks. His other novels include The Sicilian (1984), The Fourth K. (1991) and The Last Don (1996). While he wrote the first draft of the script for the film Earthquake in 1974, he was also a co- writer of Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie.
Mario Puzo died on 2 July 1999 in Bay Shore, in New York. Two of his novels Omerta and The Family came posthumously but he had finished the manuscript before his death. Some of his notable works are as under:
- The Dark Arena (1955)
- The Fortunate Pilgrim (1965)
- The Runaway Summer of Davie Shaw (1966)
- Six Graves to Munich (1967)
- The Godfather (1969)
- Fools die (1978)
- The Sicilian (1984)
- The Fourth K. (1991)
- The Last Don (1996)
- Omerta (2000)
- The Family (2002)