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What The Cast Of The Godfather Looks Like Today

Legendary gangster film "The Godfather" smashed box office records upon its debut in 1972. This film introduces audiences to the gripping story of the Corleone family and the bloody conflicts they are enmeshed in, with several other Mafia families both in New York City and Sicily. Based on Mario Puzo's novel of the same name, the film tells the story of the family's patriarch, Vito Corleone, and how his son Michael comes to embrace his role as a brutal Mafia boss.

"The Godfather" was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, scoring wins for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Many cast members enjoyed a major career boost after the film's success, and several reunited for two sequels. Today, more than 50 years after the film's release, some of these stars have sadly passed away, but many of them are still working on exciting new projects. Here's a look at what the cast of "The Godfather" has been up to since the groundbreaking film first blew audiences away.

Marlon Brando was named Actor of the Century

When Marlon Brando signed on to play Vito Corleone, the intimidating don of the Corleone crime family, his career had been in a bit of a rut. Despite an early string of successful films, like "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "On the Waterfront," his subsequent roles hadn't generated the same praise. But his portrayal of Vito turned things around, and in 1973, he took home the Academy Award for Best Actor. However, as a long-time advocate for Native American rights, Brando refused to appear at the ceremony in protest of disrespectful portrayals of Native Americans in film. Native American actress Sacheen Littlefeather gave a speech in his place. 

After his performance in "The Godfather," Brando went on to appear in several other critically acclaimed films, including "Last Tango in Paris," which earned him another Academy Award nomination, and "Apocalypse Now." He also had a supporting role in the film "A Dry White Season," which explores politics and racial tensions in South Africa. His many impressive roles earned him the title of "Actor of the Century" from Time in 1998.

In 2004, Brando passed away at the age of 80, leaving behind an incredible legacy. He voiced characters in two different projects that were released posthumously: "The Godfather" video game and the TV movie "Big Bug Man."

James Caan kept busy to the end

James Caan played Sonny Corleone, Vito's oldest son. He has a short temper and is no stranger to violent outbursts. He's a natural fit as his father's heir, but eventually meets his end in the midst of a war between the Five Families, leaving Michael to take the reins.

Caan returned for a brief flashback scene as Sonny in "The Godfather Part II," and also lent his voice to several "Godfather" video games. Caan went on to star in the film "Thief," which follows a safecracker who gets drawn into the Mafia life. He also starred in the film adaptation of Stephen King's terrifying novel "Misery." Although Caan typically worked in film rather than TV, he did have a long-running role as Ed Deline on the crime drama "Las Vegas." You might also remember him from a role very different from the rest of his oeuvre: He played Walter, Buddy's estranged, taciturn father, in the beloved Christmas movie "Elf." The late 1990s and 2000s saw something of a comeback for Caan: He appeared in a wide range of celebrated movies including "Dogville," "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," and "Bottle Rocket," which was Wes Anderson's directorial debut.

Caan's output slowed in the 2010s, but in 2021 he played the romantic lead opposite Ellen Burstyn in the retirement home-set romance "Queen Bees." Although he signed on to appear in several other movies, "Queen Bees" would mark his final film released during his life, as Caan died in July 2022 at the age of 82, according to CNN.

Al Pacino is a Hollywood legend

As Michael Corleone, Al Pacino transforms from Vito's reluctant son into a man who is ready to step up and take his place as the head of the family. This film gave Pacino's career a huge boost, propelling him into true prestige. Today, Pacino is a Hollywood veteran — and he hasn't slowed down since his time playing Michael. In 1993, he won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Frank Slade in "Scent of a Woman." He also snagged two Primetime Emmy Awards for playing Roy Cohn in "Angels in America" and Jack Kevorkian in "You Don't Know Jack." In addition, Pacino is known for his starring roles in cinematic classics like "Scarface" and "Serpico."

Recently, you might have spotted Pacino in supporting roles in "The Irishman" and "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood." He also recently starred in the Prime Video series "Hunters," which follows a young man hunting down Nazis in the decades following World War II. His career shows no signs of slowing down, either: Just in 2021, Pacino played James Laughlin in the drama "American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally," was Aldo Gucci in Ridley Scott's "House of Gucci," and announced he will play the title role in a new cinematic adaptation of "King Lear."

Diane Keaton became a rom-com star

Michael's girlfriend, Kay Adams, was played by Diane Keaton. Kay is seen as an outsider in the Corleones' world, and she hopes that one day, she and Michael will be able to live a life separate from his family. But her hopes are thwarted when Michael becomes the new don.

Keaton came back to play Kay in both "Godfather" sequels. But she also saw major success when she played the title role in the romantic comedy "Annie Hall," winning an Academy Award for Best Actress. She continued working with director Woody Allen, co-starring with him in his film "Manhattan," among others. Keaton also had major roles in movies like "Marvin's Room," "Reds," and "Something's Gotta Give." Starting in the 1980s, Keaton began working occasionally as a director in addition to acting, helming episodes of TV shows like "Twin Peaks" and "Pasadena," and directing her own documentary, "Heaven," in 1987.

Keaton has two adopted children. In an interview with Film Monthly, she stated, "Motherhood has completely changed me. It's just about like the most completely humbling experience that I've ever had." In 2011, she published her memoir, "Then Again," in which she explores her own life story, her family history, and her bond with her mother. In the 2020s, she's appeared in the rom-coms "Love Wedding and Other Disasters" and "Mack and Rita," played Justin Bieber's grandmother in the music video for "Ghost," voiced a character on Netflix's "Green Eggs and Ham," and will star in the sequel "Book Club 2."

Richard S. Castellano worked in TV

As Peter Clemenza, Richard S. Castellano deploys what is arguably one of the greatest lines in the entire "Godfather" saga: "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." Clemenza is Sonny's godfather and a capo under Vito — basically, he has plenty of influence within the family, and also trains future capos, including Sonny himself.

Castellano decided against returning for "The Godfather Part II" because of disagreements he had over his character's direction. But playing Clemenza had set him up to take on future roles within the same genre. He appeared in the Mafia film "Incident on a Dark Street," as well as "Honor Thy Father," which tells the story of the infamous Bonanno crime family. Castellano also starred in two comedy series, "The Super" and "Joe and Sons."

Castellano had a small supporting role in the 1988 film "Dear Mr. Wonderful," which would be his last performance. He passed away due to heart failure later that year. His wife, Ardell Sheridan, told the Los Angeles Times that the couple had been co-writing a book about the history of Method acting at the time of his death.

Robert Duvall has appeared in critically acclaimed films

Tom Hagen, played by Robert Duvall, is responsible for advising Vito, and often tries to be the voice of reason for the family. He was unofficially adopted by Vito as a child, when Sonny found him living on the streets. Duvall played Hagen again in "The Godfather Part II," but the third installment of the series did away with Hagen altogether, claiming he passed away after the events of the second film. This was due to a salary dispute — basically, Duvall could accept Al Pacino's pay being double what he himself took home, but not triple or quadruple. In recent years, he has made it clear that he does not regret passing on the third "Godfather" film. However, you can still hear Duvall voicing Hagen in "The Godfather" video games. 

Duvall reunited with "Godfather" castmate Marlon Brando in 1979's "Apocalypse Now," in which Duvall played Colonel Bill Kilgore. He went on to star as Mac Sledge in the drama "Tender Mercies," which earned him an Academy Award win for Best Actor in 1984. Duvall had several other notable roles in films like "The Great Santini," "Apostle," and "Falling Down." In the 2020s, Duvall starred in two high-profile sports films: the basketball drama "Hustle" opposite Adam Sandler, and "12 Mighty Orphans," which tells the story of a high school football coach who takes a team of parentless kids all the way to the state championships in the midst of the Great Depression.

Sterling Hayden wrote the novel Voyage

It's just not a Mafia movie without a corrupt cop, and in "The Godfather," Captain McCluskey fulfills that role. Played by Sterling Hayden, McCluskey works as the unofficial bodyguard for the drug baron Sollozzo, who is connected to the Tattaglia crime family. After breaking Michael's jaw, he eventually meets his end at the barrel of Michael's gun.

Hayden — known in the '50s and '60s for films like "Johnny Guitar" and "Dr. Strangelove" — had often expressed his frustrations with Hollywood and the celebrity lifestyle, despite the fact that he was a celebrated leading man. After playing McCluskey, he continued to act, generally using the money he made from working in film to fund his sailing trips around the world. His other notable roles from the 1970s and '80s include Roger Wade in "The Long Goodbye" and Leo Dalco in "1900." In addition to acting, Hayden was also very passionate about writing — before appearing in "The Godfather," he had already published his autobiography, "Wanderer." He added to his bibliography in 1977 with the publication of "Voyage," a lengthy novel which follows an 1896 sea journey around Cape Horn.

Hayden passed away in his sleep at the age of 70 in 1986. His final role was playing legendary abolitionist John Brown in the television miniseries "The Blue and Gray."

John Marley continued to be a prolific actor

When Vito Corleone's godson Johnny Fontane approaches Vito to ask for his help in landing a movie role, the don sends Tom Hagen out to Los Angeles to persuade Hollywood studio head Jack Woltz to give Johnny the part. Woltz, played by John Marley, initially refuses to give Fontane the role. But when he wakes up one morning with the severed head of his prized stallion in his bed, he realizes that you can't say no to the Corleone family.

Marley was an extremely prolific actor who took on a wide variety of roles over the course of his career. After "The Godfather," he was best known for playing Dr. Ferdie Pacheco in "The Greatest," a biographical film about Muhammed Ali's life, starring the famous boxer himself. He also gained fame for playing Max Berns in the action-comedy "Hooper." Among his many TV credits was a guest spot on "The Incredible Hulk" as D.W. Banner, father of main character David Banner.

The last film Marley appeared in during his lifetime was "The Glitter Dome." He passed away in 1984 after open-heart surgery. His very last role, in the 1986 film "On the Edge," was released after his death.

Richard Conte landed roles in other mob films

Richard Conte played Emilio Barzini, the don of the Tattaglia crime family. He is one of the primary antagonists in "The Godfather," orchestrating multiple violent clashes throughout the film. Vito warns Michael that eventually Barzini will conspire against him. In the end, Barzini walks right into a clever trap, leading to his assassination.

After playing Barzini, Conte leveraged his experience portraying the don into similar roles in other Mafia films. In the years following "The Godfather," Conte played Don Corrasco in "The Boss" and Don Antonio Marchesi in "The Big Family." He also had a supporting role in the movie "Shoot First, Die Later." In addition, Conte appeared in Italian films like "Anastasio mio fratello" and "Anna, quel particolare piacere." Conte also turned up in a number of horror films towards the end of his career, including "A Diary of a Murderess," "Evil Eye," and "The Naked Exorcism."

In 1975, Conte passed away following a heart attack and stroke. Conte's final film, "The Return of the Exorcist," was released several months after his death.

Al Lettieri worked on crime thrillers

Sollozzo, a drug baron backed by the Tattaglia crime family, was played by Al Lettieri. He wants Vito to invest in his narcotics business, but Vito doesn't think that moving into drug trafficking would be a smart move. Sollozzo isn't done with Vito following this refusal, however — he attempts to assassinate him twice, with Vito narrowly surviving. Michael ultimately takes a risk and murders Sollozzo, escaping to Sicily afterward.

Like several other "Godfather" cast members, Lettieri continued working in Mafia films and crime thrillers after playing Sollozzo. He had roles in movies like "The Don is Dead," "The Getaway," and "McQ." After "The Godfather," Lettieri's most prominent role was playing Frank Renda in the 1974 film "Mr. Majestyk," a mob hit man who meets melon farmer Vince Majestyk in prison and gets entangled in Majestyk's troubles with organized crime. A heart attack felled Lettieri In 1975.

Abe Vigoda become well-known as Phil Fish

Salvatore Tessio, played by Abe Vigoda, is a Corleone capo who ultimately betrays the family. He doesn't think that Michael can ever be a suitable replacement for Vito, and he wants revenge against Barzini for encroaching on their territories. Eventually, he begins plotting against Michael — but thanks to Vito's early warning, Michael anticipates what Tessio has planned for him, and manages to avoid a terrible fate.

Following the success of "The Godfather," Vigoda began making a name for himself in television, becoming particularly well-known for playing Phil Fish on "Barney Miller" and the spin-off series "Fish." Fish is a cynical NYPD detective with persistent health problems, and Vigoda's portrayal of this character earned him three Emmy nominations. 

Infamously, Vigoda's death was reported prematurely in 1982: He had chosen not to attend a "Barney Miller" wrap party, and a journalist covering the event mistakenly reported that he wasn't there because we was dead. This wasn't even the only time Vigoda's death was incorrectly reported, in fact — 1987 saw a New Jersey news reporter refer to him as "the late Abe Vigoda." Describing the very-much-alive Vigoda as dead became something of a running gag, especially on late night TV. Vigoda was an enormously good sport about it, and lived a long, healthy life until he died peacefully in his sleep in 2016.

Talia Shire landed the role of Adrian in Rocky

Vito's only daughter, Connie, was played by Talia Shire. She marries Carlo Rizzi, an abusive man whom her family disapproves of. Her marriage is a frequent source of conflict for her family, which comes to an explosive head after Carlo arranges for Sonny's murder.

Shire earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress after she returned to the role of Connie in "The Godfather Part II." Shire went on to play Adrian, Rocky's supportive girlfriend in the classic sports drama "Rocky," which earned her another Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She went on to play Adrian in four "Rocky" sequels.

Shire has appeared in many other films over the years, including movies like "Kiss the Bride," "Pizza With Bullets," and "I Heart Huckabees." More recently, she had a supporting role as Iola Parkes in the film "Working Man," which follows a factory worker in the Rust Belt who continues showing up to his old job after the factory is shut down. Fun fact: Shire is Francis Ford Coppola's sister, and Nicolas Cage's aunt. No wonder "The Godfather" trilogy so convincingly portrays family dynamics.