When you think of the mafia, you likely picture a guy in a suit that is a little t0o large for him, threatening to kill another guy. The threat is usually due to some type of financial transaction, or lack thereof. The guy doing the threatening is often accompanied by one or two men who support everything he says, either by head nods or repetition.
While this cartoon-like version of the mafia is often portrayed in the movies, there are some movie stars and celebrities who have had real-life ties to the ugly side of the mafia. This secret group in all its variations is known for taking what they want, accruing large sums of money, and “getting rid” of people who reveal mafia activity to the authorities. The mafia also have a reputation for being very secretive, and fiercely protective of one another. Mafia connections have also been the supposed source of success for some of the people you see on TV or hear on the radio on a regular basis.
These celebrities are alleged to have connections with the mafia. Of course, these allegations can’t be proven, since it would put too many people in danger. But some of the associations might surprise you. Take a look at this list.
10. Steve Wynn
Even though businessman Steve Wynn claims to have no ties to the mob, there are very few people who believe that Wynn brought business back to the Vegas strip simply by using his financial smarts and professional connections. When Steve Wynn went to the United Kingdom to apply for a gambling license, the Scotland Yard delved into his past and uncovered the fact that Wynn did indeed have connections to the Genovses family. And this isn’t the first time Wynn has been intertwined with a known gangster. His good friend, Tony Castelbuono, was laundering profits through one of Wynn’s casinos.
9. Jerry Orbach
Jerry Orbach was a native of the Bronx who was a talented singer and actor. He was called one of the last bona fide leading men of the Broadway musical before his death in 2004, due to prostate cancer. Orbach had ties to the Colombo family, and met Colombo family member Joey Gallo, to prepare for his role in the movie The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight. Jerry Orbach was also a witness to Joey Gallo’s murder, which took place at Umbertos Clam House. Orbach refused to cooperate with police who were investigating the murder case and took the information concerning that unfortunate night to his grave.
8. James Caan
The 75-year-old actor, singer and voice actor has had long-standing ties to the mafia. James Caan is also known for playing mob bosses on screen, and chances are he used experiences from his real life to prepare for his roles. James Caan has ties to the Colombo family and is good friends with them. When Andy “Mush” Russo was arrested in 2011, along with 125 other mafia members in New Jersey and New York, Caan came to Russo’s defense. James Caan even offered to pay his friend’s bail. Clearly the two have a close relationship, since Russo is Caan’s son’s godfather-perhaps in more ways than one.
7. Debbie Reynolds
Debbie Reynolds is a legendary actress who is most recently known for portraying Grace Adler’s meddling and zany mother on the sitcom Will and Grace. She is also a dancer and singer. Reynolds has been in the business for a long time. She’s currently in her 80s, but was fist signed to Warner Bros. when she was just 16. According to the Mafia Information website, Debbie Reynolds has long had ties to crime families in the Chicago area. For some time now, Reynolds has been a fixture in Vegas. During an interview years ago, someone asked her if she was concerned about being killed while in Las Vegas. She responded that only those who “need killing” should be afraid. Interesting!
6. Elizabeth Hurley
Elizabeth Hurley is a stunning British actress and model who has connections to the Colombo family of New York. She is perhaps best known, however, for her role in Austin Powers and her long-term former relationship with fellow British actor Hugh Grant. The captain of the Colombo mafia worked on a film with Elizabeth Hurley’s then-boyfriend, Steve Bing. The Colombo captain, “Donnie Shacks” Montemarano, and Hurley quickly formed a friendship, and the two were even seen out in public together. Hurley was aware that Montemarano had spent time in prison for extortion and racketeering, but she apparently felt that the friendship was more important than the crime boss’ past mistakes.
5. Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett’s vintage voice stands the test of time. He’s been making records for decades, and has recently teamed up with Lady Gaga to create even more hits. Tony Bennett has an alleged connection with the Bonanno family. It has also been said that the singer had a run-in with a hit man for the mob in the 1970s. According to some, gangster Tony Spilotro roughed Bennett up for messing with his girl. After Spilotro slammed Bennett’s head on a telephone book, as an indication that the worst was yet to come, the crooner decided to stay out of trouble and turn his life around.
4. Robert De Niro
Even though De Niro’s Italian last name automatically causes some people to think that he has a gangster affiliation, this is not necessarily the case. De Niro asserts that all his mob ties are strictly professional. He is known for portraying hardened gangsters and crime bosses who stop at nothing to get their way in films. When Robert De Niro was preparing for his role in the film Analyze This, he spent time with “Fat Andy” Ruggiano for research purposes. This caused him to be associated with the Gambino family. However, there haven’t been any negative associations between Robert De Niro and the mafia.
3. Liza Minnelli
Liza Minnelli is an icon in the gay community, but she’s also an inspiration to many performers and artists due to her poise and passionate stage presence. Her most notable performance is as Sally Bowles in the Broadway musical Cabaret. Liza Minnelli has also been linked to the crime family, the Gambinos. Gianni Russo, a gangster and actor, is said to be one of Minnelli’s ex-boyfriends. Russo was an actor in The Godfather, which is arguably one of the most popular mafia movies of all time. He also served as the middle man between Joe Colombo, Sr., a New York mafia boss and Paramount Studios.
2. Marilyn Monroe
The woman who is known for being a timeless bombshell ended her own life at the age of 36. Marilyn Monroe was born in Los Angeles, so it’s no surprise that she was destined for the spotlight and starred in a number of films. The night before her death, she allegedly spent the night with Sam Giancana, who was a known gangster. The two were in Lake Tahoe, California, and Giancana supposedly convinced Monroe that she shouldn’t go public with her affair with then-president John F. Kennedy. The exchange between the mobster and the actress likely had a profound effect on her, and she decided to take Giancana’s advice and not tell the media that she was having an affair with the president. Unfortunately, the decision likely caused her to be overcome with sadness and a lack of motivation to continue living.
1. Frank Sinatra
The classic crooner and actor has long been associated with groups that were known for organized crime. These associations were in New York, Havana, Chicago and Miami. Frank Sinatra’s uncle, Babe Garavante, was a member of the Morettis. In 1921, Garavante was convicted of murder when he drove the getaway car in an armed robbery. Frank Sinatra is also known for being the leader of The Rat Pack, a group that included legendary performers such as Sammy Davis, Jr. There have long been rumors that The Rat Pack had relationships with the mafia, as well. Sinatra denied his connections with the mafia throughout his lifetime, but it was a known fact that his own parents did business with mobsters. Frank Sinatra also spent a considerable amount of leisure time with members of the Lucky Luciano family. He was also friends with Al Capone’s bodyguards.
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