Mario Puzo Biography ((?)-)



See index for CTFT sketch: Born October 15, 1920, in New York, NY; died of heart failure, July 2, 1999, in Bay Shore, NY. Novelist and screenwriter. Puzo was best known for his novel The Godfather, which led to a trilogy of films that he cowrote. One of seven children born to illiterate Italian immigrants, Puzo had an interest in writing that blossomed in high school.After serving in Germany during World War II, Puzo returned to New York and attended Columbia University and the New School for Social Research on the G.I. Bill. Puzo's first short story was published in 1950, and his first novel, The Dark Arena, was published five years later. The novel won critical acclaim but did not sell well, and Puzo worked several jobs, including astint writing action stories for a group of men's magazines, to supporthis family. Puzo's second novel, The Fortunate Pilgrim, took nineyears to write and also won critical success but generated few sales. Determined to overcome debt and provide for his wife and five children, Puzo set about to write a commercial success, and in 1969 The Godfather, a book about the fictional Corleone crime family, was published. The novel quickly became a best-seller and eventually sold more than 21 million copies worldwide.Puzo cowrote the screenplay for The Godfather with Francis Ford Coppola, and the film, which starred Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Al Pacino, and James Caan, was released in 1972. The film won the Academy Award for best picture. A sequel, which Puzo again cowrote with Coppola, came out in 1974 and also was awarded the Academy Award for best picture. In 1990 The Godfather,Part III was released. The three films won a total of nine Academy Awards. Puzo's involvement with The Godfather led to other screenwritingwork, and he was involved with such screenplays as Earthquake, TheCotton Club, and two of the Superman films. Puzo continued to write novels, including The Sicilian in 1984, The Fourth K in 1992, and The Last Don in 1996. The Last Don was adapted into a television miniseries in 1997. Puzo's final work was Omerta, the third in the Mafia trilogy that included The Godfather and The Last Don. Omerta was released posthumously in July 2000.

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