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In the Godfather universe
Novel and first two films
Tommasino is an old friend of Vito Corleone from Vito's native village of Corleone, Sicily. By the 1920s, he has become a top-ranking soldier in the local Mafia family, headed by Don Ciccio. As Vito's Genco Olive Oil Company — the front for his criminal empire — expands its operations, he cut a deal in which he would distribute Tommasino's olive oil in the United States.
When Vito returns to Sicily to kill Don Ciccio and avenge the murders of his family, Tommasino assists him in his scheme. They go to Ciccio's home, ostensibly to get his blessing for their venture. Vito succeeds in killing Ciccio, but in the midst of their escape, Tommasino is hit by a blast from a lupara shotgun fired by one of Ciccio's bodyguards. He is shown sitting in a wheelchair as Vito and his family leave by train. Tommasino succeeds Ciccio as the local Mafia chieftain of Corleone, and remains one of the Corleone family's strongest allies for almost half a century.
When Vito's son Michael Corleone murders drug lord Virgil Sollozzo and corrupt NYPD captain McCluskey in 1946, he is immediately dispatched to Sicily and placed under Tommasino's care; Tommasino ensures that Michael is kept safe from both the police and the Corleone family's enemies. By this time, Tommasino is able to pull himself upright while leaning on the door of his car. Shortly after the death of Michael's older brother, Sonny, Tommasino gets word that the rival Barzini family now knows Michael is hiding in Corleone and is after him. Tommasino has Michael move to a villa in Syracuse, on the other side of the island. However, one of Michael's bodyguards, Fabrizio, is bought off by the Barzinis and attempts to assassinate Michael with a car bomb, killing Michael's new wife, Apollonia, instead. After this, Tommasino and Vito decide that Sicily has become too dangerous for Michael, and begin the process of moving him back to the United States.
The Godfather Part III
In 1980, Michael returns to Sicily to seek the elderly Tommasino's advice about making contacts in the Vatican, in order to aid in his takeover of the Italian conglomerate Immobiliare. By this time, Tommasino is so frail he has to be lifted to and from chairs and car seats.
However, that same year, Tommasino is assassinated by the hitman Mosca, who had been hired by Don Altobello and Licio Lucchesi to kill Michael. Mosca has disguised himself as a Roman Catholic priest and is walking down the road with an associate of his who is dressed similarly. Tommasino pulls up in his car and offers Mosca a ride, but instantly recognizes him for who he is. His cover blown, Mosca threatens to kill Tommasino if he does not help to kill Michael Corleone. When Tommasino refuses, Mosca shoots him dead with a lupara hidden in his robe.
Three different actors have played Tommasino in the three feature films. In The Godfather, as a middle-aged man, he was portrayed by Corrado Gaipa. Tommasino was portrayed as partially paralyzed because Gaipa was confined to a wheelchair in real life. In The Godfather Part II, a much younger Tommasino was portrayed by Mario Cotone. In The Godfather Part III, as an elderly man, he was portrayed by Vittorio Duse.