Angelo Bruno

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Angelo Bruno
Angelo and Sue Bruno
Angelo Annaloro

(1910-05-21)May 21, 1910
DiedMarch 21, 1980(1980-03-21) (aged 69)
Cause of deathGunshot
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery, Yeadon, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Other names"The Gentle Don", "The Docile Don"[1]
OccupationCrime boss
Assunta "Sue" Maranca
(m. 1931)
AllegianceBruno crime family

Angelo Bruno (born Angelo Annaloro, Italian: [ˈandʒelo annaˈlɔːro]; May 21, 1910 – March 21, 1980)[2] was a Sicilian-American mobster who was boss of the Philadelphia crime family for two decades until his assassination. Bruno was known as "the Gentle Don" due to his preference for conciliation over violence, in stark contrast to his successors.[1]

Early years[edit]

Born in Villalba, Province of Caltanissetta, Sicily, Bruno emigrated to the United States as a child and settled in South Philadelphia with his brother, Vito.[3] He was the son of a foundry worker who opened a small grocery store at 4341 North Sixth Street in Feltonville, Philadelphia. Angelo helped his father at the store until 1922, at the age of twelve when he first entered school but attended for only a few years before dropping out of South Philadelphia High School to open his own grocery store at Eighth and Annin streets in Passyunk Square, Philadelphia. Bruno was a close associate of New York Gambino crime family boss Carlo Gambino. Living with Bruno was a cousin of mobster John Simone. Bruno dropped the name Annaloro and replaced it with his paternal grandmother's maiden name, Bruno. His sponsor into the Philadelphia mafia was Michael Maggio, a convicted murderer with a national reputation, and the founder of M. Maggio Cheese Corp. (since bought up by Crowley Foods).

Bruno was married to Assunta "Sue" Maranca (1913–2007), his childhood sweetheart, from 1931 until his death.[4] They had two children, Michael and Jean.[4] Bruno owned an extermination company in Trenton, New Jersey, an aluminium products company in Hialeah, Florida, and a share in the Plaza Hotel in Havana, Cuba. Bruno's first arrest was in 1928 for reckless driving. Subsequent arrests included firearms violations, operating an illicit alcohol still, illegal gambling, and receiving stolen property.

Family leader[edit]

In 1959, Bruno was made boss of the Philadelphia family after a period of friction between Antonio "Mr. Miggs" Pollina the family boss and himself. Eventually a plot to have Bruno murdered was uncovered and Pollina was deposed by the commission and was allowed to live and operate being the first indicators of his nickname "The Gentle Don". Over the next twenty years, Bruno successfully avoided the intense media and law enforcement scrutiny and outbursts of violence that plagued other crime families. Bruno himself avoided lengthy prison terms despite several arrests; his longest term was two years for refusing to testify before a grand jury. Bruno forbade family involvement in narcotics trafficking, preferring more traditional Cosa Nostra operations, such as bookmaking and loansharking. However, Bruno did permit other gangs to distribute heroin in Philadelphia for a share of the proceeds. This arrangement angered some family members who wanted a share of the drug-dealing profits.

Bruno preferred to operate through bribery and soft power rather than murder. For example, he banished violent soldier Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo to the then-backwater of Atlantic City, New Jersey after he was charged with manslaughter.[5]

Rebellion and death[edit]

Angelo Bruno murder scene

On March 21, 1980, the 69-year-old Bruno was killed by a shotgun blast to the head as he sat in his car in front of his home near the intersection of 10th Street and Snyder Avenue in the Lower Moyamensing neighborhood of South Philadelphia; his driver, John Stanfa, was wounded.[6] It is believed that the killing was ordered by Antonio Caponigro, Bruno's consigliere. A few weeks later, Caponigro's lifeless body was found, naked and battered, in the trunk of a car in the Bronx.[7][8] The Commission had reportedly ordered Caponigro's murder because he assassinated Bruno without their sanction.[citation needed] Other Philadelphia family members found to be involved in Bruno's murder were tortured and killed.[citation needed]

The murder sparked a mob war in Philadelphia, which claimed over 20 lives over the next four years, including the succeeding boss Philip "Chicken Man" Testa, and his son Salvatore Testa.[9]

In February 2016, author and historian Celeste Morello began an effort to designate Bruno's home a historical landmark.[10] In March 2016, a historical landmark advisory committee ruled against the request.[11]

In popular culture[edit]

Bruno is portrayed by Chazz Palminteri in the film Legend (2015) and Harvey Keitel in the film The Irishman (2019).[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Godfather's Daughter – Philadelphia Magazine". Archived from the original on 2018-02-11. Retrieved 2017-11-27.
  2. ^ "From Sabella to Merlino: Five Philadelphia mob bosses who impacted Pennsylvania and New Jersey". 2016-10-12. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
  3. ^ "Philadelphia Mob Boss Angelo Bruno". American Mafia History. September 27, 2018. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Caparella, Kitty (July 18, 2007). "Sue Bruno, widow of mob boss, dies at 94". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  5. ^ "Nicky Scarfo, Mob Boss Who Plundered Atlantic City in the '80s, Dies at 87". The New York Times. January 17, 2017. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017.
  6. ^ Ledbetter, Les (March 22, 1980). "Reputed Leader In Mob Is Killed In Philadelphia; Angelo Bruno Shot Dead in Auto Outside Home A Record of Arrests". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Mob in Philadelphia Is Called 'Fragmented' by 11th Killing". The New York Times. May 24, 2015. Archived from the original on May 24, 2015.
  8. ^ "Reputed Philadelphia Crime Figure Is Killed by Explosion at His Home". The New York Times. May 24, 2015. p. A14. Archived from the original on May 24, 2015.
  9. ^ "Crime Figure's Son Slain in Jersey". The New York Times. September 16, 1984.
  10. ^ Allyn, Bobby. "Philly historical commission gets offer it can refuse – preserving home of slain mob boss..." Archived from the original on 2017-08-08. Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  11. ^ "Committee Rejects Philly Mob Boss' Home As Historical Landmark". Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  12. ^ Schaffstall, Katherine (November 30, 2019). "'The Irishman': 12 of the Film's Stars and Their Real-Life Inspirations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 9, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Blood and Honor: Inside the Scarfo Mob - The Mafia's Most Violent Family by George Anastasia, 2003, ISBN 0-940159-86-4
  • Bureau of Narcotics, U.S. Treasury Department, "Mafia: the Government's Secret File on Organized Crime", HarperCollins Publishers 2007 ISBN 0-06-136385-5
  • Morello, Celeste Anne. Book One Before Bruno: The History of the Mafia and La Cosa Nostra in Philadelphia. Publication date: 4/28/2000, ISBN 9780967733418
  • Morello, Celeste Anne. Book Two Before Bruno: The History of the Philadelphia Mafia, 1931-1946. Publication date: 11/28/2001, ISBN 9780967733425
  • Morello, Celeste Anne. Book Three Before Bruno and How He Became Boss: The History of the Philadelphia Mafia, Book 3--1946-1959. Publication date: 8/28/2005, ISBN 9780977053209

External links[edit]

American Mafia
Preceded by Philadelphia crime family

Succeeded by