Al Martino, who played Johnny Fontaine on “Godfather” became known for one of the most famous movie lines in history “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse”, has died at 82. Read more on Al Martino’s death below.
Al Martino died yesterday of a heart attack in his Springfield home. Martino had just turned 82 last Wednesday.
Martino’s death was unexpected because he had not been sick and was still performing.
Martino blasted onto the music scene in the 1950’s with his song “Here In My Heart”, which sold over a million copies. Other hits included “Spanish Eyes,” “Volare,” “Take My Heart,” and “Cara Mia”.
Martino is probably best remembered for his role as Johnny Fontane in The Godfather. And is equally well known for the line in the movie… “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse”.
He also played aging crooner Sal Stevens in the film “Cutout,” in 2006.
Martino’s son, Al Cini, said, “I have so many wonderful memories of my father I don’t even know where to start.” He praised his father’s “warmth and great sense of humor.”
“He was the last of the show-business legends,” said entertainer Jerry Blavat, a longtime friend. “There’s nobody else.” Jerry frequently played Martino’s songs on his oldies shows.
From Philly.com Obituary:
Growing up, Martino worked as a bricklayer in his family’s construction business. He was a combat Marine in World War II, wounded in the Iwo Jima campaign. After the war, Al Cini changed his name to Martino following in the footsteps of his pal, Alfred Cocozza, who changed his name to Mario Lanza and became a legend.
Martino often said that he was inspired by Al Jolson and Perry Como to take up singing. He appeared in local night spots, including the iconic Palumbo’s, before winning first place in Arthur Godfrey’s “Talent Scouts” TV program in 1948. He sang a rendition of Como’s “If.” That success earned him a contract with the Philadelphia-based BBS label.
The success of “Here In My Heart” got him a contract with Capitol Records.
Ironically, for a man destined to perform in a Mafia-related movie, Martino ran into problems when his contract was taken over by a Mafia-connected management team.
He was ordered to pay $75,000 as a safeguard against their investment. He made a down payment, but then fled to the United Kingdom. He performed there in such venues as the London Palladium.
It wasn’t until 1958 that he felt safe enough to return to the U.S.
He had some difficulty reestablishing himself in the fickle music business. He recorded for 20th Century Fox for a time, but the label dropped him.
The popularity of a new album, “The Exciting Voice of Al Martino” (1962), got him a new deal with Capitol. He followed that with a mostly Italian-language album, “The Italian Voice of Al Martino.” He also made some appearances on television.
In 1963, his comeback hit, “I Love You Because,” went to No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 1965, he gained further popularity with “Spanish Eyes,” which achieved several gold and platinum disks for sales. His 1976 hit, “Volare,” also called “Nel Blu, Dipinto di Blu,” enjoyed mega-sales here and abroad. In 2000, he recorded an album, “Style.”
Besides his son, he is survived by his wife, Judy, and two daughters, Alison Martino and Alana Cini.
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