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Fredo Corleone

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Michael, you don't come to Las Vegas and talk to a man like Moe Greene like that!
Fredo, you're my older brother, and I love you, but don't ever take sides with anyone against the family again.
~ Fredo and Michael Corleone

Alfredo "Fredo Corleone was a villain from The Godfather novel and subsequent movies. He was the second oldest child of Vito and Carmella Corleone, and the brother of Sonny, Michael, and Connie Corleone.

Early Years

Fredo was born in 1919 in the Hell's Kitchen part of New York City. He had been a sickly child, coming down with pneumonia at a young age.

Growing up Fredo briefly entertained the idea of becoming a priest. However after being abused by a priest at the seminary he dropped that idea and entered in to the family business.

The Godfather

Fredo was seen as the weakest of the Corleone men. When his father was the victim of an attempted assassination Fredo panicked and was unable to return fire, dropping his gun in the process.

Following the attempt Fredo was sent out west to Las Vegas to learn the casino business from Moe Greene. Fredo spent most of his time womanizing, leaving a trail of pregnant women in his wake. When his brother Michael came to convince Moe Greene to sell his business to the Corleone family. Moe didn't want to and dismissed Michael as a young punk. Fredo tried to defend Moe to his brother but Michael told him to never take sides against the family ever again.

Las Vegas

Fredo became underboss to his brother Michael after the death of their father. He only had nominal power in the family and resented being passed over for the leadership. After the death of Sonny - who Vito had been grooming to take over - Vito felt that Michael would be far better as Don instead of Fredo, who he never thought capable of being a successful leader. However he was a charismatic man and Michael used his skills to entertain important people conducting business with the family.

Some time after the death of his father Fredo had married Deanna Dunn. It was not a happy marriage, with Deanna humiliating Fredo at the reception for his nephew Anthony's first communion.

Fredo betrayed his brother to Nick Geraci and Hyman Roth, both of whom sought revenge against Michael Corleone. Geraci sought revenge for being forced to shoot his mentor Salvatore Tessio as well as having a plane he was flying in sabotaged by Corleone which caused it to crash. Roth - despite his protestations to the contrary - wanted revenge for the death of Moe Greene. He provided detailed information on the Corleones. This gave Roth's associate Johnny Ola the knowledge he needed to carry out a hit which led to Michael nearly being assassinated.


I know it was you, Fredo – you broke my heart – you broke my heart!
~ Michael Corleone

While in Havana Michael learned that Fredo betrayed him when Fredo accidently let it slip that he and Johnny Ola had been to a sex show in Havana. He confronted Fredo at a New Year's party in Havana, telling Fredo that he knew he was the traitor and that he broke Michael's heart. When the Cuban rebels forced Fulgencio Batista to resign Michael tried to convince Fredo to return to the US with him, however Fredo was too afraid to do so and fled on his own.

Michael soon came under investigation by a Senate subcommittee investigating organized crime. After arriving back at the Corleone house at Lake Tahoe Michael confronted Fredo, who admitted that he withheld information from Michael about the Senate Committee's lawyer being on Roth's payroll.


Fredo, you're nothing to me now. You're not a brother, you're not a friend. I don't want to know you or what you do. I don't want to see you at the hotels, I don't want you near my house. When you see our mother, I want to know a day in advance, so I won't be there. You understand?
~ Michael Corleone

At that Michael decided to disown his brother, telling him that he no longer considered him a brother and that he no longer wished to see him. Michael told Al Neri that as long as their mother lived nothing was to happen to Fredo.

In 1959 Carmella Corleone died. Fredo came out to the services and was told that his brother would not see him, and was waiting for him to leave. Connie went to see Michael and convinced him to see Fredo again, saying he was lost and helpless without his family. Michael went to see his brother, seemingly forgiving him.

Death and Aftermath


Fredo and Al Neri sitting in a boat on Lake Tahoe, shortly before Fredo's death.

However the forgiveness was a ruse. Michael had decided to kill Fredo now that his mother was gone. After he was allowed back in to the family Fredo became close to his nephew Anthony, going fishing with him. One day as he and his nephew Anthony were about to go out on a boat to go fishing, Connie came out and told them that Michael wanted to take Anthony to Reno, so Fredo and Al Neri went out alone.

While they were on the boat Neri shot Fredo in the back of the head, killing him. Neri then dumped the body overboard. Michael had been watching to ensure the deed was done. What he did not know was that Anthony also had seen the killing from his bedroom, resulting in a rift between father and son. Anthony told his mother Kay about the killing, years later she would tell Michael that Anthony knew and it was the reason why Anthony wanted nothing to do with the business.

The rest of the family did not know that Michael had ordered Fredo's death. They were all led to believe that Fredo drowned in an accident on Lake Tahoe.

I've killed men, and I ordered men to be killed. No, it's useless. I killed... I ordered the death of my brother; he injured me. I killed my mother's son. I killed my father's son!
~ Michael Corleone

The killing of Fredo was the one crime that truly troubled Michael. Over the years he was racked with guilt over ordering his brother killed. In 1979 Michael visited Cardinal Lamberto to warn him about the corruption in the Vatican. During the visit Lamberto gently encouraged Michael to confess his sins for the first time in 30 years. Michael told Lamberto that he had ordered Fredo killed. Lamberto told him that it was just that Michael suffered for his sins, and that even though he didn't believe Michael would change he still gave him absolution.

Behind the Scenes

The character of Fredo Corleone was played by John Cazale. Cazale was a good friend of Al Pacino. While the two together lived in a communal house in Provincetown, Massachusetts the two were cast in the Israel Horovitz play The Indian Wants the Bronx. Their work in this play resulted in Obie Awards for both men. Cazale played the lead in the Horovitz play Line, where casting director Fred Roos took notice of him and suggested Cazale to Francis Ford Coppola. Cazale also acted in plays with Robert DeNiro, who played the younger Vito in the second film.

Cazale was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He died in 1978 and was buried in New Jersey. Cazale was remembered very fondly by Pacino, who saw him as his natural acting partner.

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