Nick Name: The Godfather
Birthday: August 24, 1902
Died At Age: 74
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Don Carlo Gambino
Born Country: Italy
Born in: Palermo, Sicily, Kingdom of Italy
Notorious As: Criminal
Spouse/Ex-: Catherine Castellano
children: Carlo Gambino, Joseph Gambino, Phyllis Sinatra Gambino, Thomas Gambino
Died on: October 15, 1976
place of death: Massapequa, New York, United States
Who was Carlo Gambino?
Carlo Gambino was a Sicilian–American gangster, best known as the former boss of the Gambino crime family. Carlo was born and raised in Palermo City, Sicily. His family belonged to the ‘Honored Society,’ an equivalent of a crime syndicate. He joined the gang at the age of 19 and moved to the USA as an illegal immigrant the same year. There, he joined the notorious Salvatore D’Aquila gang, along with his uncle. He also joined another powerful gang, named the ‘Young Turks.’ It was made up of Italian Jewish mobsters. By the time he was in his mid-20s, he had created a name for himself as a fearsome mobster. He worked under crime bosses such as Joe Masseria, Philip Mangano, Vincent Mangano, and Albert Anastasia. Albert was murdered in 1957, and the murder was planned by Carlo and the other bosses. Carlo thus became the Godfather of the crime family and got involved in gambling, loan-sharking, and narcotics, among many other illegal activities. Over time, he became one of the most feared crime bosses in the country and was constantly hunted by the ‘Federal Bureau of Investigation’ (FBI). He died of a heart attack in 1976, at the age of 74. He is more famously known as “Don Carlo.”
Childhood & Early Life
Carlo Gambino was born on August 24, 1902, in Palermo, Sicily, into a family that belonged to the ‘Honored Society,’ which is a more dignified term for the loose association of criminals that work in an organized manner.
While Carlo was growing up, President Benito Mussolini had chased most of the mafia members out of the country. Following this, a better class of criminals emerged. Carlo benefited from the organized structure, and in 1921, at the age of 19, he was inducted into ‘Cosa Nostra,’ which meant he was a “made man.” He was bestowed with the honor as he had already begun committing murders while he was still in his teens.
Carlo’s cousin and brother-in-law, Paul Castellano, was himself a feared gangster. Carlo had two brothers, Gaspare and Paolo. While Gaspare never quite entered the life of crime, Paolo was very much involved in the mafia.
In 1921, he left Italy and moved to Norfolk, Virginia, USA. He later moved to New York to join his cousin, Paul Castellano. He had arrived in the USA as an illegal immigrant.
Upon landing in New York City, he joined Salvatore “Toto” D’Aquila’s crime family. Carlo’s uncle also joined the gang sometime later.
He also became part of the gang called the ‘Young Turks,’ which consisted of many Italian Jewish mobsters such as Frank Scalice, Vito Genovese, and Joe Adonis. Most of these gangsters went on to become very powerful mob bosses later.
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Rise as a Gangster
As a member of the ‘Young Turks,’ Carlo became involved in petty criminal activities such as gambling, theft, and robbery. He also became involved in bootlegging during the ‘Prohibition’ period in the early 1920s.
By the mid-1920s, Carlo had become a feared mobster. The ‘Young Turks’ had a markedly different future plan for organized crimes compared to those of the old mafia bosses. They believed that they needed to forge alliances with more mafia groups if they wished to do business in peace, while the old mafia bosses were too proud of their Italian heritage.
In the late 1920s, the Castellammarese War began between the Masseria and Maranzano gangs on the streets of New York. Dead bodies kept piling up and thus began the bloodiest period in the New York mafia history. The war was hard on the criminals from other families, such as Irish mobsters. The war had also cut out many ways of profiting for the crime families.
The ‘Young Turks’ were on both the sides of the war, but they soon realized that if the war went on, they were at the risk of losing a great deal of fortune. They also felt that while the Italian bosses were killing each other, the Irish and Jewish crime factions were gaining a hold of the areas that were previously dominated by the Italian mafia.
Carlo was one of the perpetrators behind the idea of stopping the war. The ‘Young Turks’ decided that the old mob bosses were too greedy to let non-Italian gangs work alongside them, so they formed a separate syndicate. Toward the end of the war, both Masseria and Maranzano were dead.
‘The Commission’ was formed by Lucky Luciano in a bid to avoid a future war. While other gangsters were constantly showing off their power and riches, Carlo remained relatively low-key. He married, had children, and lived in a small house in Brooklyn.
Carlo thrived in the new mafia system, where things were better organized and there was very little violence. He remained involved in activities such as gambling and extortion and also devised several other ways to earn quick money. At one point, he also made a lot of illegal money selling ration stamps in the black market during the Second World War.
Gambino was working under Albert Anastasia and was leading a very low-key crime life. However, his boss had turned into an extremely eccentric man toward the late 1950s. He had become exceedingly violent and thus posed a great danger to the crime house.
Push came to shove when Albert broke the mafia rule of not killing outsiders, by killing a civilian named Arnold Schuster. Albert had apparently watched him talk about a bank robbery involving him on TV. This activated the police departments as they embarked on a hunt for the gangsters.
The heads of other mob families thought that it was time for Albert to go. They came in touch with Carlo, Albert’s most loyal man, and asked him to carry out a hit on the boss. Albert was thus killed in a barbershop.
With no other potential leader, Carlo came ahead as the new Godfather of the family in 1957. Under his leadership, the Gambino family expanded its influence all around the country and grew exponentially rich. He was making hundreds of millions of dollars each year, which further strengthened his hold and made him one of the most powerful crime bosses in the entire country.
However, despite all that, Carlo was never flashy and kept a low profile instead. That was precisely why while many of the ‘Young Turks’ were either dead or imprisoned by the late 1960s, Carlo went on about his business.
The ‘FBI’ was constantly on his trail, but they could not find any evidence against him ever. Even when his house was completely under surveillance, there was nothing that could put Carlo on trial. Carlo continued ruling his family for many years, until his death in the mid-1970s.
Family, Personal Life & Death
Carlo married Catherine Castellano in 1926. They were first cousins and had four children together.
Carlo died of a heart attack on October 15, 1976. He was 74 years old at the time of his death.