‘Godfather’ actor to promote liquor on Island

COURTESY PHOTO Actor Gianni Russo, who was in “The Godfather” movies, will be on Shelter Island Saturday as “the ambassador” for Don Corleone Vodka.

COURTESY PHOTO
Actor Gianni Russo, who was in “The Godfather” movies, will be on Shelter Island Saturday as “the ambassador” for Don Corleone Vodka.

Actor and singer Gianni Russo will be on Shelter Island Saturday promoting Don Corleone Vodka.

He chose to bring the Don Corleone Vodka to the Island because of long standing relationships with Billy Schmidt and Townsend Montant of Shelter Island Wines and Spirits on Bridge Street.

Loyalty is very important to Mr. Russo and despite overtures from other East End liquor stores, he chose to introduce the vodka line at their store.

“It should be entertaining,” Mr. Montant said about the vodka tasting event, noting that Mr. Russo is “a good singer,” who may just offer some songs to those who come for the tastings that take place  between 4 and 7 p.m.

Mr. Russo will be remembered by “Godfather” film aficionados as Carlo Rizzi.

On his website, Mr. Russo describes his role as “Don Corleone’s wife-beating, double-crossing son-in-law.”

He revived the role in “Godfather II” and has been cast in 40 movies throughout his career, including “Seabiscuit,” “The Freshman,” “Goodnight, My Love” and “Any Given Sunday.”

He still acts and also plays club dates as a singer, but said his own life story would make a great movie.

His only acting teacher was Marlon Brando and his only singing coach was Frank Sinatra, he said.

But now, his most prominent role is an “ambassador” for the Don Corleone Vodka line that debuted in February. He’s been traveling the world promoting the brand licensed from Paramount Studios.

He’s quick to tell you that he has probably made more money from the “Godfather” franchise through merchandising side deals than anyone else connected with the film.

And speaking of connected, he implies, and online mentions of him report, his uncle was a soldier with the Gambino crime family.

Mr. Russo will be signing bottles of Don Corleone Vodka  at Saturday afternoon’s event at Shelter Island Wines and Spirits, and if you have other Godfather memorabilia, he’ll be happy to sign those items as well.