Many people dream of hitting the big time and achieving the wealth and power that comes with being famous. But money and influence can sometimes attract the attention of less savoury characters, particularly those associated with organised crime.
Throughout history, celebrities from many different fields – music, movies, sport – have had alleged dealings with the mafia. Celebs’ level of involvement with these criminal syndicates ranges from minor brushes to almost total integration. In fact, there are some stars whose entire careers were reportedly orchestrated by the mafia or similar criminal groups.
Here are ten well-known names from past and present with alleged ties to organised crime syndicates. Many people will probably be surprised by certain names on this list – especially as some of these celebrities pride themselves on their clean-cut image.
And remember, the word ‘alleged’ can’t be emphasised enough – there are many of these allegations that can’t be proven.
10. Steven Seagal
Seagal’s involvement with the mafia doesn’t – sadly – revolve around the mob threatening to ‘dispose’ of him should he make any more painfully bad movies. On the contrary, after the action star fell out with his business partner Julius Nasso – who had close ties with the Gambino family – in 2000, Nasso’s crew allegedly demanded that he make more cinematic masterpieces with them or face the consequences.
In 2009, Seagal testified at the racketeering trial of Peter Gotti (brother of the late crime boss John Gotti) and other reputed gangsters. The star said that despite claiming he would quit making violent flicks in 2000, he was forced into making more feature films because the Gambinos were extorting him; they were demanding $150,000 for each movie he had previously made with Nasso. Seagal always claimed he had no idea Nasso was involved with organised crime when the pair first formed a partnership.
9. James Caan
James Caan joins several other actors on this list whose on-screen portrayal of mafia members is probably drawn from real-life experiences. The Godfather star has repeatedly stated his support for members of the Colombo crime family, and even offered to pay Andy “Mush” Russo’s bail when he was arrested – along with 125 other mafia members – in 2011.
Caan’s mafia involvement allegedly runs deep. He reportedly asked mobster Anthony ‘The Animal’ Fiato to rough up fellow actor Joe Pesci after the Home Alone star failed to pay an $8000 hotel bill in 1982.
As for the Russo connection – Caan’s relationship with the mafia man stretches back to the seventies, and, in an ironic twist, the actor is godfather to Russo’s son.