Often called Ol’ Blue Eyes, Sinatra is one of the world’s most captivating characters, who was a giant in the worlds of both music and cinema. The star won a host of Grammy Awards for his music, and claimed an Oscar for his acting talents, for his role in From Here to Eternity. Sinatra, who died in 1998 also secured a Golden Globe win, earning acclaim for his role in Pal Joey.
While much of his life is well documented, what is often unknown to many Hollywood fans is how Sinatra “inspired” a character in The Godfather, which caused a huge fallout between the crooner and its writer.
The Godfather starred some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, like Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.
It followed the Corleone crime family, and it has been suggested the character of Johnny Fontane was based around Sinatra.
Fontaine was well-known for his hard-drinking, womanising attitude to life, and who turned to the Godfather to help revive his lagging singing career with a movie role.
The film’s director Francis Ford Coppola noted in Blu Ray commentary for The Godfather about how Sinatra had influenced the Fontaine character.
He said: “Obviously Johnny Fontane was inspired by a kind of Frank Sinatra character.”
The Godfather is based on the 1969 novel of the same name, written by Mario Puzo, which was turned into a screenplay co-authored between the writer and Coppola.
When Sinatra heard Puzo was adapting it for the screen, he was reportedly incensed.
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“The worst thing he called me was a pimp, which rather flattered me since I’ve never been able to get girlfriend to squeeze blackheads out of my back, much less hustle for me.”
Puzo added: “What hurt was that here he was, a northern Italian, threatening me, a southern Italian, with physical violence.
“This was roughly equivalent to Einstein pulling a knife on Al Capone.
“It just wasn’t done. Northern Italians never mess with Southern Italians except to get them put in jail or get them deported to some desert island.
“Finally, I walked away and out of the restaurant.
“My humiliation must have showed because he yelled after me, ‘Choke. Go ahead and choke.’
The film’s impact remains well-documented, and it is ranked second on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Great American Films of All Time.
In March, fans marked the 50th anniversary since its release in 1972, resurrecting with it the vow Sinatra made to Coppola, as well as his fury with producers.
The Godfather was a blockbuster, breaking many box office records to become the highest grossing film of 1972.
The Godfather has received overwhelming critical acclaim and is seen as one of the greatest and most influential films of all time, particularly in the gangster genre.
It won three Oscars, including for Brando as Best Actor, though he famously turned down the honour.