Sunday, January 9, 2011

Noted Author of the Dark Side Philip Carlo Dead

Philip Carlo, whom I criticized as well as hyped in one of my posts, "Philip Carlo and the Quacking Duck," is dead. This came as a complete surprise to me; I just saw him, for the first time, on an episode of Mobsters about Anthony Gaspipe Casso, the subject of his book "Gaspipe," which I used as the jumping off point for my post, in which I called out some obvious mistakes in Mafia history made by Carlo. He died on Nov. 8, 2010, never to see the publication of his last book, "The Killer Within," which is ironically being released today, Jan. 6, 2011. (Here is an excellent interview with Carlo, on AZcentral.com.)

However I still recommend his books, especially "Gaspipe," because there is a fascinating intimacy in his work due to his relationship with organized crime figures in the New York Mafia (his wife is the daughter of slain Eddie Garofalo, who was murdered by Sammy Bull Gravano); additionally, Carlo and his family had been close friends with Casso.

I would like to rerun Carlo's obituary here, from the New York Times, then follow up with some of my own commentary, including Tony Danza's embarrassing outburst at the funeral:

Philip Carlo, 61;Wrote About Crime Figures
By DANIEL E. SLOTNIK
Philip Carlo, who produced novels and nonfiction accounts of serial killers and hit men before writing about his own struggles with disease, died on Nov. 8 in Manhattan. He was 61.
The cause was a combination of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and cancer, said his wife, Laura Garofalo-Carlo.
A stay at Bellevue Hospital in the late 1970s inspired his first book, an unpublished novel about a murder on the wards. His second novel, ''Stolen Flower,'' about an American girl kidnapped by a child pornography ring in Pompeii, was published by Dutton in 1986.

Mr. Carlo soon branched into nonfiction, publishing four books based on interviews with mass murderers. Titles include ''The Night Stalker: The Life and Crimes of Richard Ramirez,'' about the serial killer who terrorized Los Angeles in 1984 and 1985 (Kensington, 1996); and ''The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer,'' about Richard Kuklinski, a mob hit man who claimed to have fed some of his victims to giant rats (St. Martin's Press, 2006). A film adaptation of the book, starring Mickey Rourke, is planned for next year.

 Philip Carlo, his wife Laura Garofalo and actors Mickey Rourke and Chuck Zito at the launch party for ''The Butcher,'' his work on Mafia psycho Tommy "Karate" Pitera in New York City.
(September 23, 2009 - Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images North America)

Philip John Carlo was born in Brooklyn on April 18, 1949. He struggled with dyslexia in school before graduating from Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn. Mr. Carlo told The New York Times last year that his youth in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, a Mafia enclave at the time, gave him ''a personal innate understanding'' of crime and the mettle to confront it in his writing.
Mr. Carlo spent 60 days in Rikers Island himself for misdemeanor assault after a fistfight with a deliveryman who left menus in his building despite a no-menus sign. ''It was a crazy, ridiculous incident,'' he said.

Mr. Carlo learned he had A.L.S., an incurable illness that causes paralysis, in 2005. After the diagnosis, he completed four books with the help of an assistant, including ''The Killer Within,'' a memoir about his struggle against A.L.S. ''I have a deadline,'' he said. ''My own death.''

A malignant brain tumor was discovered in October.

Mr. Carlo, whose first marriage, to Maria Cecilia Medeiros Lima, ended in divorce, married Ms. Garofalo-Carlo in 2007. Besides his wife, he is survived by his mother, Nina; his father, Dante; and a sister, Doreen Mannanice, all of Freeport, N.Y.

POSTSCRIPT: I want to highlight something in the obit that some may have missed: Remember those HBO shows about the Ice Man, the tall, burly bearded guy who slurred his speech, probably because of the Librium or other drugs they fed him? Well, the great Mickey Rourke is going to portray Richard Kuklinski in a film adaptation of Carlo's book, ''The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer,'' (St. Martin's Press, 2006). Critics and others have blasted the book for containing errors, the biggest one being, Kuklinski, a likable enough chap on his HBO programs, was not the big, bad hitman working for Gambino capo Roy DeMeo, then Sammy Bull Gravano (who Carlo believed murdered the Ice Man somehow) he described himself as.

If you are willing to pay, you can read all about it on Jerry Capeci's site, the best mafia site there is. Here's the link: http://www.ganglandnews.com/members/column319.htm; a couple of others: http://www.ganglandnews.com/members/column490.htm; http://www.ganglandnews.com/members/column427.htm.

OK, OK, here is a taste of what Capeci wrote about him, in that first post:

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Richard Kuklinski, the star of a new book by Philip Carlo, a tome that pushes the envelope in the book store genre known as “true crime.”

Carlo’s “The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer,” runs more than 400 pages. It is based on hundreds of hours of what can only generously be termed as Kuklinski’s mostly demented ramblings.

According to the Kuklinski/Carlo version of events
[Ed. note: and no one else's version]: In 1975, the Ice Man killed Hoffa with a knife, then drove his body from a Detroit suburb to Kearny, N.J. where it was doused with gasoline and set afire in a garbage dump. In 1979, he used a shotgun to kill Galante just as a mob backup hit team got to Joe & Mary Italian-American Restaurant in Brooklyn. DeMeo, his best bud at the time, served as his wheelman. A few years later, it was DeMeo’s turn, and the Ice Man blew him away. And in 1985, Kuklinski claimed to have been part of the most daring mob rubout in recent history, the midtown Manhattan shootings of Castellano and Billotti at rush hour during the height of the Christmas shopping season. The order came from Salvatore (Sammy Bull) Gravano, who had replaced DeMeo as the Ice Man’s main mobster.



SECOND POSTSCRIPT: Tony Danza interrupted the priest during Carlo's eulogy, claiming he was talking too much about God, and making some mourners uncomfortable, as reported in an article in the NY Post:

"It could have been a funeral-home scene out of a "Sopranos" episode. At the wake for crime author Philip Carlo, Tony Danza angrily interrupted the priest, claiming he was talking too much about God and not enough about the best-selling biographer of mass murderers, including Richard Kuklinski and Richard Ramirez, during his eulogy.

"A source at Thursday's wake at Peter C. La Bella Funeral Home in Bensonhurst said the priest -- "who said he was a substitute priest from a federal prison, which made some people smirk -- started to ramble on and on about religion, quoting the Bible and making mourners uncomfortable. ..."

Read more.

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