- "Today I settle all family business, so don't tell me you're innocent Carlo. Admit what you did."
- ―Michael Corleone[src]
Carlo Rizzi was the first husband of Connie Corleone.
A half northern Italian, half Sicilian native of Nevada and former labourer, Rizzi migrated to New York City following trouble with the law and became a friend of Sonny Corleone, through whom he met Sonny's sister Connie in 1941 at a surprise birthday party for Sonny's father Vito.
They were married on the last saturday of August, 1945 in a traditional Italian wedding at the Corleone compound, a compromise made in order to appease Vito, who was disappointed with his daughter's choice in a husband.
Rizzi and the CorleonesEdit
Rizzi was thrilled at the prestige of being a member of the Corleone crime family, but Vito, disappointed his daughter had chosen an unworthy husband, instructed Tom Hagen not to allow Carlo significant knowledge of the family's workings, but to "give him a living". He was relegated to running a small sports book under the family's protection, reporting to top hitman Willie Cicci.
Frustrated at his minor role in the family business, Carlo regularly beat up and cheated on Connie as a means of exerting his own power over the mighty Corleones. Vito appeared to tolerate this, and coldly refused to intervene when Connie complained. In truth, Don Corleone was outraged at how Carlo treated Connie, but felt powerless to intervene since Italian tradition forbade a father from interfering in a daughter's marriage. However, Sonny, Fredo, Tom and Michael, who also hated Carlo for the treatment of his wife, were not bound by this law. Sonny, in particular, grew to despise Carlo so much that the two nearly came to blows, and Sonny had to be forcibly kept away from Carlo.
Sonny visited Connie one day after their father's near-assassination, and discovered his sister covered in bruises after a particularly bad beating. She begged him not to do anything about it, and he gave her his word. However, without the Don's calming influence he lost his temper and beat Carlo mercilessly in the street, threatening to kill him if he ever hit Connie again. He actually let up on Carlo a little bit after seeing that Carlo was no match for him; Sonny could never bring himself to harm a defenseless person. Soon afterward, Carlo was told that his book was being shut down as a result of the continuing war. In a fit of pique, Carlo sought revenge by making a deal with the Corleones' rival Emilio Barzini to kill Sonny.
Rizzi set the plan in motion by setting up a call from one of his girlfriends. Connie took the call and confronted him. Carlo curtly tells Connie, "Vaffanculo!" (Italian for "Go screw yourself!"), provoking Connie into an argument in which he beat her senseless. Connie called Sonny, who flew into a rage and set out to confront Carlo. En route, Sonny was killed by Barzini's men in a hail of gunfire at a toll booth.
Vito forbade any investigations into his son's death, and concluded on his own that the Barzini family was responsible. In 1954, Michael became operating head of the family, and began treating Carlo as a trusted lieutenant, prominsing to make him his 'right-hand man' once the family moved to Nevada. Carlo thought that he was getting the respect he deserved at last. In truth, Michael had discovered early on that Carlo had fingered Sonny, and was only keeping him close as a ploy to make him vulnerable. After Vito's death, Michael moved into the main house in the Corleone compound, and allowed Carlo and Connie to move into the smaller one he'd shared with Kay since their marriage. He even stood as godfather to Carlo and Connie's second child, at the same time as his massacre of the heads of the Five Families.
- "Michael! You lousy bastard -- you killed my husband! You waited until Papa died so nobody could stop you, and then you killed him. You blamed him for Sonny -- you always did. Everybody did. But you never thought about me -- you never gave a damn about me."
- ―Connie Corleone[src]
Shortly after his son's baptism, Carlo was waiting in his house when Michael showed up with Tom, Al Neri and Rocco Lampone. To Carlo's surprise, Michael told him that he has known all along about his involvement in Sonny's death. Carlo denied any involvement, but Michael assured Rizzi that, while he would be exiled from the family, his life would be spared. This satisfied Rizzi enough to confess his involvement with Barzini. When Rizzi got into his car to leave, however, he was violently garroted by Peter Clemenza. Connie was enraged upon learning what Michael had done (though she likely didn't know of Carlo's involvement in her brother's death), and resented him for some years afterward. However by 1959, Connie appears to have either forgiven Michael's actions, realized their necessity, or most likely because of the death of her mother, and once again pledged loyalty to her brother.