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Did Marvel Artist Vince Colletta Almost Have a Role in The Godfather?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and fifty-second installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends.

NOTE: If my Twitter page hits 5,000 followers, I'll do a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that week. Great deal, right? So go follow my Twitter page, Brian_Cronin!

COMIC LEGEND:

Vince Colletta lied about almost being cast for a Godfather film.

STATUS:

I'm Going With False

This is a rare "double negative" legend, where I'm saying something false is false, but that's how it was presented to me by reader Dennis L., so that's how I'm going to proceed. Dennis wrote in to ask if it was true that Vince Colletta made up a story about being nearly cast in one of the Godfather films.

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Vince Colletta, as you are all probably aware (and if not, you should be), was a longtime inker for both Marvel and DC Comics (and for a variety of other publishers), best known for his work in the Silver Age as Jack Kirby's inker on Thor (he was also Kirby's last inker on the Fantastic Four before Joe Sinnott took over).

Colletta was a larger-than-life character who stood out from the typical sort of personalities that you see working in comics back then (and today). He was an impeccably dressed, boisterous fellow who worked CONSTANTLY but also had time for sideline gigs like doing photography for models.

You see, Colletta's first success in comics came during the boom in romance comics in the 1950s. Colletta loved to draw beautiful women and thus the romance comic industry was perfect for him. There were a number of models involved in romance comic covers, as well, and Colletta soon became the guy who would take the photographs for those covers. Through those covers, he befriended many models and actresses and through them, other actors, as well. Colletta became an in-demand headshot photographer and through there, he became friends with many actors, perhaps most famously Vincent Gardenia and Peter Falk (TV's Columbo).

Throughout his comics career, there would be writers and artists who believed that Colletta was "connected" and Colletta was fine letting people believe that. Colletta owned a really nice house (which was mainly why he had to work CONSTANTLY to pay the mortgage on the house) and so people liked to gossip.

In any event, there was so much gossip that when stories were shared about how Colletta was almost in the Godfather, it was easy to chalk that up as just another one of those stories.

However, Jim Shooter explained that it was surprisingly true. Here's Shooter from his blog...

Vince Colletta told me this story. Vince told me a lot of wild stories. At first, I thought he was, as my grandma Elsie might say, “full of potato soup and monkeys.” Like the time he told me he was cast for a major role in The Godfather. Long story, but ultimately the role was taken away from him and given to a big-name actor who had big-time clout with the director. Vince said that the casting director quit because of that.Yeah, right.

1981-ish. Mike Hobson, relatively new publisher at Marvel asked me to go to lunch with him one day. No agenda, just lunch. Mike was making an effort to get to know the creative troops and told me he wouldn’t mind if I brought someone along. Vince happened to be in the office, so….

I don’t know how it came up, but at lunch, Vince told his I-was-almost-in The Godfather story. It so happened that Mike had been working at the William Morris Agency at the time, was fully aware of the casting dust-up and verified everything Vince said.

Later, Vince showed me a videotape of his screen test, in which he played a mobster being questioned by a Senate subcommittee. He was good.

One way or another, many, many of the seemingly outrageous tales Vince told from time to time were corroborated.

It sounds like the scene that Shooter is describing is technically from Godfather II, as that film had a number of scenes featuring a Senate subcommitte...

But whatever, it's still a Godfather movie, right?

Jim Shooter says he saw a screen test. I tend to believe him. We can quibble over just how close Colletta was to actually getting cast in the film, but the main point remains is that Colletta seriously was somewhere in the process of appearing as an actor in the Godfather movies, which is really awesome, right?

So there ya go, Dennis, I think it was a true story! And thus, the legend about it being a lie is, itself, false.

Thanks for the suggestion and thanks to Jim Shooter for the information!

EDITED TO ADD: Vince Colletta's son, Franklin, confirmed the story to me on Twitter and he also said that the role was the one that Lenny Montana eventually got in the original Godfather, which is that of Luca Brasi.

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Check out some other legends from Legends Revealed:

1. Did Michael Corleone Avenge His Wife’s Murder In EACH of the First Two Godfather Movies, Only For it to be Edited Out of Each Film?

2. Was a Film’s Ending Re-Shot Because Test Audiences Couldn’t Believe Bill Murray Could Beat Up Robert DeNiro?

3. Did Harrison Ford Accidentally Audition for the Role of Han Solo in Star Wars?

4. Did the Original Lead Actresses of Carrie and Star Wars Swap Roles Over a Nudity Clause?_______________________________________________________________________________

Check back soon for part 2 of this installment's legends!

And remember, if you have a legend that you're curious about, drop me a line at either brianc@cbr.com or cronb01@aol.com!

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