Godfather” actor, magician Tony Giorgio dies, 88

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Joseph Anthony "Tony" Giorgio

Joseph Anthony “Tony” Giorgio

Actor and magi­cian Joseph Anthony “Tony” Gior­gio, who por­trayed Bruno Tattaglia in the clas­sic 1972 movie The God­fa­ther, died Feb­ru­ary 1 in Van Nuys, Cal­i­for­nia of car­diopul­monary fail­ure. The Sher­man Oaks, Cal­i­for­nia res­i­dent was 88.

Gior­gio pro­vided the voice of the Butcher in the 1982 half-hour spe­cial Ziggy’s Gift, which aired on ABC. It won the Emmy Award for Out­stand­ing Ani­mated Program.

A true Renais­sance man, he was a TV actor (The Prac­tice), stage actor (Big Julie in Guys and Dolls, star­ring Mil­ton Berle), tech­ni­cal advi­sor on magic and gam­bling (Mis­sion Impos­si­ble, Charlie’s Angels, Sting II, etc.), colum­nist (“The Gior­gio Let­ters” in Genii), author (Toss­ing Broads), lec­turer (con games and gam­bling scams), and card and dice hustler.

He pro­duced sev­eral DVDs still avail­able, includ­ing The Ulti­mate Work, an exten­sive train­ing video on the art of hand muck­ing (hold­ing out) and card manipulation.

Born in Herkimer, New York on Sep­tem­ber 27, 1923, Gior­gio grew up in Sch­enec­tady dur­ing the Great Depres­sion. He started doing magic tricks at the age of seven, and began his career in show busi­ness as a pro­fes­sional “ama­teur,” per­form­ing magic in tal­ent shows for pay. At age 12, he ran away from home to join a cir­cus and per­formed magic in a sideshow. Over the years, he tran­si­tioned from magic to pro­fes­sional hus­tler and then back to show busi­ness, work­ing along the way in a vari­ety of venues, from con­ven­tions and fra­ter­nal clubs to coun­try clubs, Las Vegas casi­nos and Hol­ly­wood studios.

In 1963, he was one of the early per­form­ers at the Magic Cas­tle, win­ning Close-up Magi­cian of the Year in the 1990s. He was hired by Play­boy Clubs in the 1960s to be their res­i­dent gam­bling expert.

His first appear­ance in films was as a card dealer in A Big Hand for the Lit­tle Lady (1966). Besides his role in The God­fa­ther, his most iconic film appear­ances were as Frank Palan­cio in Mag­num Force and Don Scagnelli in Amer­i­can Me.

Tony Gior­gio is sur­vived by his wife of 41 years, Kaye S. Jacobs-Giorgio, and by many nieces and nephews.

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