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Amerigo Bonasera is a fictional character created by Mario Puzo who appears in his novel The Godfather, as well as Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 film adaptation. Though he is not a major character, he plays a vital role in revealing the merciful side of main character Vito Corleone. The novel opens with the words: "Amerigo Bonasera sat at New York Criminal Court...". The film also starts with his famous line, "I believe in America. America has made my fortune."
Bonasera is a proud Italian-American undertaker who tends to keep away from the Corleone family, knowing they are involved with the Mafia, though Don Corleone's wife is a godmother to Bonasera's daughter. His daughter is brutally beaten by her boyfriend and his friend for refusing to have sex after they had plied her with whiskey. The men escape any serious penalty because they are from wealthy, politically connected families.
Desperate, Bonasera decides to go to Don Corleone on the day of his daughter's wedding to ask him to kill the young men; according to tradition, a Sicilian never refuses a favor on the day of his daughter's wedding. His proposition angers Don Corleone, who reprimands him for asking for a favor without showing the proper respect, and for seeking the attackers' deaths when his daughter was alive and would recover. Nevertheless, Vito agrees to grant a favor in return for Bonasera's "friendship" and the respectful address of "Godfather". Vito Corleone also gently reprimands Bonasera for attempting to seek justice through the courts first instead of coming to him first.
Vito hands the job to Peter Clemenza with explicit instructions that his men aren't to get "carried away" and accidentally kill anyone. The next evening, Paulie Gatto and two other members of his crew give the men a brutal beating that puts them in the hospital for months. Bonasera sends his thanks to Vito through Corleone family consigliere Tom Hagen. Though feeling safer now that he has Don Corleone on his side, Bonasera begins dreading the day Corleone asks him a favor; he has a nightmare of the Don ordering him to bury the bodies of two men he has just killed.
Later in the film, Hagen calls on Bonasera to finally pay back the favor. Initially terrified, Bonasera is relieved when Vito Corleone comes to his funeral parlor with the corpse of his eldest son, Sonny Corleone, who has been gunned down by the Barzini family. A heartbroken Vito merely requests that Bonasera repair the extensive physical damage so that Sonny's mother can have an open casket. Bonasera is seen one final time at Vito Corleone's funeral; the novel states he had fulfilled all obligations and satisfied their friendship by preparing the Don's body for burial.
In the 1972 film, Bonasera is played by Salvatore Corsitto (1913–1999).
In The Godfather: The Game, Aldo Trapani, instead of Clemenza, is ordered to punish the two perpetrators, who are found in the graveyard outside Bonasera's funeral home harassing Bonasera's daughter. He attacks the assailants, knocking them out and leaving one in an open grave.