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Calogero Bagarella was born in Corleone to a family of Mafiosi that gave Cosa Nostra various affiliates. He was the second son of Salvatore Bagarella and Lucia Mondello, who moved to the town of Corleone after marriage. This union produced six children which other than Calogero, included Giuseppe, Leoluca, Antonietta and Maria Giovanna. The family lived without any problems for a short while, until Salvatore Bagarella was sent to confinement in Northern Italy from 1963 to 1968 for Mafia-related crimes. Calogero's brother, Giuseppe would eventually meet the same fate, eventually dying in prison in 1972. His mother was thus forced to work from home to support the family, while the children went to school. As a boy, Calogero worked at a mill with his childhood friend Bernardo Provenzano, but barely managed to earn enough to take a little flout home to his family.
From the second half of the 1950s, Calogero Bagarella became affiliated with the Corleonesi clan headed by the doctor, Michele Navarra and was a lieutenant of Navarra's right hand man Luciano Leggio along with Bernardo Provenzano and Salvatore Riina. In fact, Bagarella was the third most important figure in the Leggio faction of the Corleonesi, behind Leggio and Riina. From 1958 to 1963, Bagarella fought in the internal clan war against his former boss, Michele Navarra. After Navarra was murdered on August 2, 1958, Bagarella became known as one of the most fearsome and ruthless killers in all of Sicily.
He was tried in absentia and acquitted of all charges laid against him at the trial which took place after the First Mafia War at Bari on June 11, 1969. On December 10, 1969, Bagarella was killed in an attack on Mafia boss Michele Cavataio, the boss of the Acquasanta quarter in the Viale Lazio in Palermo, known as the Viale Lazio massacre. He was part of a Mafia hit-squad consisting of Bernardo Provenzano, Emanuele D’Agostino of Stefano Bontade’s Santa Maria di Gesù Family and Damiano Caruso a soldier of Giuseppe Di Cristina, the Mafia boss of Riesi. After Bagarella's death, his younger brother Leoluca became one of the most famous and ruthless killers in Sicily.
Bagarella was very close to Salvatore Riina and Bernaro Provenzano since childhood. It was discovered after his death that his girlfriend was Arcangella Riina, one of the younger sisters of Salvatore. Riina, on the other hand, was also the boyfriend of Bagarella's younger sister Antonietta, whom he eventually married in 1974.
- (Italian) Zingales, Provenzano: il re di cosa nostra , p. 162
- Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p. 104
- Mafia Boss Provenzano Accused of 1969 Palermo Murders, Bloomberg, November 29, 2007
- Servadio, Mafioso, p. 228-30
- Jamieson, Alison (1999). The Antimafia: Italy’s fight against organized crime. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-80158-X.
- Servadio, Gaia (1976), Mafioso. A history of the Mafia from its origins to the present day, London: Secker & Warburg ISBN 0-436-44700-2
- Stille, Alexander (1995). Excellent Cadavers. The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic, New York: Vintage ISBN 0-09-959491-9
- (Italian) Zingales, Leone (2001). Provenzano: il re di cosa nostra: la vera storia dell'ultimo "padrino", Cosenza: Pellegrini Editore ISBN 88-8101-099-2