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Salvatore Tessio

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Queicon There are two conflicting canon sources for this article, from The Godfather (novel) and The Family Corleone.
Salvatore Tessio
Salvatore Tessio
Biographical Information
Aliases Sal, Sally
Gender Male
Born 1890s
Sicily
Died 1955
Staten Island, New York City
Affiliation Corleone family
Title(s) Caporegime
Behind the scenes
Portrayed by Abe Vigoda
John Aprea
"Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him."
―Salvatore Tessio[src]

Salvatore 'Sal' Tessio was one of Don Vito Corleone's most trusted friends and also his caporegime, ruling over the family's territory in Brooklyn.

BiographyEdit

Tessio Vito Clemenza

Young Tessio, Vito and Clemenza.

A Sicilian born youth raised in New York, Tessio married his wife Lucille in 1908.

Tessio began with his friends Peter Clemenza and Vito Corleone as low-level hoodlums in New York City's Little Italy. He was already known in the neighbourhood as being both savvy and dangerous, and yet, he had connections from an early age, being good friends with gunsmith Augustino Coppola.

When the three owed money to Don Fanucci, Tessio was the first to concede with Vito's plan of giving the Don considerably less than they had agreed. Shortly after, both men understood that Fanucci had been murdered by Vito, but never mentioned it to him.

Position of PowerEdit

Tessio war

Tessio during the Five Families war.

It was Tessio who played a major part in the Olive Oil War, personally executing enemy Don, Giuseppe Mariposa. As Vito rose to prominence in the Mafia underworld, Tessio and Clemenza rose with him, each eventually settling into the Caporegime roles. However, Vito informed the two men not to meet together socially, telling them it was a security precaution. Tessio understood immediately that it was merely to prevent the two from plotting against their boss and complied. He was present at Vito Corleone's surprise birthday party in 1941, having supplied the cake.

Tessio owned a social club in Brooklyn and made it his base of operations. From there, he managed his soldiers and was very well-connected throughout the borough. Most federal investigators considered Tessio the smarter and savvier of the two capos, though he had mellowed considerably in the decade of peace since the Olive Oil War. In fact, many groups believed that Tessio ran a separate organisation. This was used to the family's advantage several times.

Regime and role in the warEdit

His regime included soldiers Nick Geraci, Momo Barone and Eddie Paradise. Tessio was initially the more trusted of the two capos during the war with the Five Families (having to chose whether the traitor in the family was Clemenza or Paulie Gatto), and was issued the task of assassinating Bruno Tattaglia and helping Michael Corleone with the assassination of Virgil Sollozzo.

BetrayalEdit

"It's the smart move. Tessio was always smarter."
Michael Corleone[src]
Vlcsnap-2010-07-09-18h26m01s25

Tessio seals his fate by relaying Barzini's deal to Michael.

Tessio thought more of Vito's younger son Michael than Clemenza or Tom Hagen did, but never believed he was powerful enough to keep the family going after he was named his father's heir. After the Barzinis began chipping away at their territories, Tessio and Clemenza asked for vengeance, but Michael ordered them to wait. Around this time, the aging capo developed symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.

Ultimately, Tessio began plotting against Michael. At Don Corleone's funeral, Tessio arranged for Michael's assassination at a peace summit set up by Emilio Barzini, who had become the strongest Don in New York. The summit was to be held on Tessio's territory in Brooklyn, where Michael would supposedly be safe. In return, Tessio would inherit the Corleone family. However, Michael had anticipated the plot by way of a warning from his father, who intimated that the person who approached him about the peace summit would be the family traitor. Tom initially thought the traitor would be Clemenza, but Michael was not surprised, since Tessio was always the smarter one.

DeathEdit

Vlcsnap-2010-06-30-00h13m56s149

Tessio, before being led away to his death.

As Tessio and Hagen were preparing to attend the summit, Cicci told him that Michael was coming in a separate car. Tessio was visibly upset, saying that it threw off his "arrangements." Hagen says he can't come along either, and several of Tessio's men surround their boss. Realizing that Michael has found out about his treachery, Tessio asked Tom to tell Michael that it was "only business, he always liked him" and asked Tom if he could get him off the hook, "for old times' sake?".

Willie Cicci and a few other men drove Tessio to Two Toms, his social club, where his traitorous men were executed. Tessio, and his dead co-conspirators were then brought to an abandoned gas station on Staten Island where he was executed by his former protege Nick Geraci, while Al Neri looked on. His death was attributed to the Barzini family, since Staten Island was their territory, which explained the death of Don Barzini at the same time.

Personality and traitsEdit

Tessio was a smooth and savvy enforcer, who many of the junior members of the family saw as a mentor. He was a ruthless killer in his youth, though as he mellowed over the years he was known for his warm character. He was intelligent and always one step ahead of his enemies, whilst rewarding those who did him service. He was known to keep his business and personal lives seperate, a fact that was hammered home when he plotted against Michael despite his fondness for him.

Tessio was described as lean, saturnine, more reserved than Clemenza, sharper, more clever but with less force, described with having the air of a viper. He had been the best soldier in the Corleone family. The Don had relied on him more than any other man with the exception of Luca Brasi.

In the video gameEdit

Tessio Trapani

Tessio gives instructions to Aldo Trapani.

In the video game, Tessio utilises the skills of up and coming enforcer, Aldo Trapani, who has recently saved the Don's life and driven him to the hospital after an assassination attempt. Trapani carries out Tessio's hit contracts on Tattaglia family key members and the two men become good friends.

Death in the video gameEdit

The game picks up where the film leaves off: Willie Cicci drives Tessio to the Embassy Club, where Aldo Trapani is to execute him. However, upon arriving at the club, Tessio makes a last stand with the Barzini Assasins, who would have killed Michael Corleone at the planned sit-down between Don Barzini and himself. Trapani manages to kill the bodyguards and execute Tessio. Before his death, Tessio again reiterated that his betrayal was only business, he also pleads Aldo to spares his life and also says "Let me go, we were friends".

InfluencesEdit

Salvatore Tessio could be based on Gaspar DiGregorio, who was one of Joseph Bonanno's closest associates, but later sided against him during the "Bananas war" in the 1960s.

Behind the scenesEdit

In original novel Tessio, who's first name is never mentioned, is sent to kill Salvatore Maranzano, while in The Family Corleone he kills Giuseppe Mariposa, who replaces Maranzano.

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