Hell's Kitchen, New York, U.S.
New York, U.S.
|Title(s)||Caporegime, Underboss, Acting Don|
- "Whatya gonna do? Nice college boy, eh? Don't wanna get mixed up in the family business? Now you wanna gun down a police captain because he slapped you in the face a little bit, huh? Whataya think this is, the Army, where you shoot 'em a mile away? You gotta get up close like this... badaBING! you blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit. C'mere... you're taking this very personal."
- ―Sonny Corleone to Michael Corleone[src]
Santino "Sonny" Corleone was the eldest of the Corleone children, known for his temper and compulsive aggression and rash decisions.
Sonny was the oldest, most impulsive and violent of Vito's sons and, before Michael's rise to power, the most involved in the Corleone crime family. It was he who was supposed to head the family business after the death of Vito. Vito always blamed himself for this, as the boy saw his father murder Don Fanucci, and so the Don would look like a hypocrite if he lectured Sonny against criminal acts. Sonny is not without a softer side, however; while 10, he met a homeless boy, Tom Hagen, who thereafter lived with the family. He also acted as a protector to his younger siblings, especially Connie due to the traditional fierce Sicilian affection for sisters. He once beat Carlo nearly to death for hurting her.
Entering the Family BusinessEdit
As a teenager, Sonny witnessed the murder of Henry Hagen by his father, and soon after became a stick-up artist along with his friend Bobby Corcoran and their gang. He also began an affair with Bobby's elder widowed sister Eileen.
When the Corleones first moved to Long Beach, there was an incident with three furnace inspectors who tried to pull a scam on Don Corleone's house, and Sonny was told by his father to deal with it. His father was secretly testing his son on how he'd handle the problem, but the result did not altogether please Vito. After beating the workmen, forcing them to repair the damage they did, and throwing them out at gunpoint, Sonny called the home-improvement firm they worked for and threatened the owner to not send any more "inspectors" into the Long Beach area again. This was frowned upon by his father as being too violent an action, saying that his son must be 'the rapier, not the club'.
The Mafia LifeEdit
Sonny was brought into his father's world of crime at the age of 16, after a botched liquor store robbery. His godfather, Peter Clemenza, had brought the matter to Vito, and Vito was far less than pleased. Unfortunately, Sonny revealed how he had seen Fanucci's murder, and though Vito pleaded with him to finish school and get a legitimate job, Sonny insisted that he wanted to "sell olive oil." Vito knows that Sonny really wants to learn the family business, and sends him to Clemenza for training.
Genco Abbandando originally placed Sonny as a bodyguard for his father, more so that the Don could instruct his son personally, often looking and sounding like a college professor during a lecture. Clemenza taught Sonny how to shoot and use a garrot, but was disappointed when Sonny preferred using a gun to a strangulation wire.
During the Olive Oil War Sonny saw little action until Don Corleone got shot down by some Irish thugs during the Pacification of New York. With his father in the hospital, Sonny formed his own crew and took to the streets, showing his hidden genius for urban warfare. Like Julius Caesar or Napoleon, he was able to take block after city block with relative ease, gaining a reputation as one of the most brutal and vicious leaders and executioners in the eastern underworld, overshadowed only by his father's personal hitman Luca Brasi.
Sonny "mades his bones" when he was 19 by killing his friend Corcoran, gaining a reputation as a ruthless killer. Soon afterward, he becomes a capo in his father's family.
In 1935, Sonny married Sandra, a young Italian immigrant, and they had four children, Francesca, Kathryn, Santino, Jr. and Frank. It was said that he was a kind and loving father, and a good (but unfaithful) husband. Unusually, his infidelities did not trouble his wife, who was scared of making love due to Sonny's large "appendage".
His devotion to his father earned his nickname, Sonny, as could be seen when he attacked Michael for deciding to tell their father that he had enlisted in the Marines and left college on his birthday. Sonny believed that people who fought in the military were "saps" because they risk their lives for strangers who hated them anyway, and that "Your country ain't your blood."
Taking over as DonEdit
- "No, not this time consigliere, no more discussions, no more meetings, no more Sollozzo tricks, you give 'em one message, I want Sollozzo, if not, it's all out war, we go to the matresses!"
- ―Sonny Corleone[src]
The normal course of events in Sonny’s life is upturned when Virgil Sollozzo comes to Don Vito with an offer of entering the drug business, backed by the Tattaglia family. The Don does not want to enter the drug business, Sonny shows interest in the deal. This led Sollozzo to believe that if the Godfather could be taken out of the way, Sonny would agree to work with him. An assassination attempt on the Godfather is arranged.
The assassination attempt failed but leaves the Godfather near death, although he eventually recovered. Sonny, now enraged and acting as the Corleone family's Don, prepares for an all-out war against the Tattaglias unless they agree to turn over Sollozzo. When they refuse, Sonny orders the death of Bruno Tattaglia, Don Phillip Tattaglia's son. Michael, who had previously distanced himself from the family's criminal enterprise, volunteers to kill Sollozzo and his bodyguard, Captain McCluskey. Sonny, though impressed with his little brother's courage, is initially against the idea, thinking Michael is too inexperienced in Mafia matters. Additionally, despite his well-known violent streak, Sonny is reluctant to kill a policeman; it has long been a hard and fast rule in the American Mafia that law enforcement officials are not to be harmed. However, Michael eventually talks him into it, arguing that since McCluskey is serving as Sollozzo's bodyguard, he is fair game. Michael kills both Sollozzo and McCluskey, and is sent immediately to Sicily to wait out the inevitable crackdown on the Five Families. Bruno Tattaglia, Don Phillip Tattaglia's son, is also killed. This action was seen as an uneccesary act of retaliation by his caporegimes, but in fact Sonny's actions nearly crippled the Tattaglias.
The Death of Sonny CorleoneEditFive Families, Emilio Barzini, enlists the help of Sonny's brother-in-law, Carlo Rizzi, in setting a trap for the impulsive new Don. Sonny had recently inflicted a particularly vicious public beating on Carlo, after finding out that Carlo was abusing his wife Connie, Sonny's little sister. Sonny spared Carlo's life, as he could not bear to kill a helpless human being, and instead left him bruised and broken, with a warning that he would kill him if he ever hit Connie again. This proved to be his downfall, as the worthless brute lived to exact his revenge. To draw Sonny out into the open, Rizzi inflicts a particularly vicious beating on Connie, who telephones Sonny, begging for help. In a fit of rage, Sonny leaves the family compound unaccompanied and heads for Connie's apartment to kill Rizzi. As Sonny approaches a toll plaza, a number of Barzini's men emerge from the toll booths and car ahead of Sonny's with submachine guns and viciously gun him down after spraying his car with lead, forcing the wounded Sonny to make an attempt at a hasty retreat, but he is shot in the head before trying to escape. He is dead at the age of thirty-one, two months short of his thirty-second birthday. Sonny's death persuades Vito to call a truce with the other families.
After Vito's death, Michael took revenge by having Carlo Rizzi killed, after promising Connie he would not; she resented him for years afterward, even though Rizzi abused and cheated on her during their marriage.
Thirty years after Sonny died, his illegitimate son with Lucy Mancini, Vincent, began to assert himself within the family, personally eliminating family enemy Joey Zasa, before being appointed as Michael's sucessor as the Don Corleone. Sonny's legitimate children are not known to have ever played any significant role in the family.
Personality and traitsEdit
Sonny was very hot headed and known for losing his temper. One of the biggest examples was starting the Five Families War without thinking about the repercussions. Without his anger, Sonny was very good in fighting and very smart business wise. He loved his family and showed it by beating up his sister Connie's husband Carlo Rizzi. Even his nickname 'Sonny' was given because of his devotion to his father, who he respected hugely, despite behaving in ways that displeased him sometimes.
While a known murderer, Sonny couldn't bring himself to harm anything he views as helpless (like women, children and people who don't fight back), which turn out to be life-saving for his wife-beating brother-in-law Carlo Rizzi.
In the video gameEdit
- "Nothing worth a fuck gets done except by force, or the fear of it."
- ―Sonny Corleone to Aldo Trapani[src]
In the video game, a team of Cuneo enforcers eliminated several Corleone buttonmen and attacked the compound at Long Island. The attack was unsucessful, but Sonny, enraged, had his right arm, Aldo Trapani, prepare for war against the Cuneos. This involved attacking a distribution network that began at Caruso! in Hell's Kitchen, leading across to the West Port Warehouse, long thought to have been abandoned. The two Corleones seized control of the network after a long a bloody firefight, an act which sealed Sonny's fate, he was too dangerous to be allowed to live.
- Sonny's death scene is a reminiscent of the final death scene of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker in the film Bonnie and Clyde.
- Just before Sonny is killed, he listens to a broadcast of the baseball playoff game won by Bobby Thomson hitting the Shot Heard Round the World. This would place Sonny's death on October 3, 1951, contradicting the novel by several years.
- Sonny was named after Sonny Capone, Al Capone's son.
- During the video game he states to Aldo that when he is calm he is worse than when he is angry.
Notes and referencesEdit
|Underboss of the Corleone family|