Gianni Russo Claims Affair With Marilyn

Actor Gianni Russo claims to have had an affair with Marilyn in his forthcoming memoir, Hollywood Godfather, as Michael Kaplan reports for the New York Post. Born in 1943, he began his career running errands for mobster Frank Costello. He made his screen debut as Carlo Rizzi, the abusive husband of Connie Corleone (Talia Shire), who is murdered by her brother Michael (Al Pacino) in The Godfather (1972.) Offscreen, Russo has released an album and a wine range, and was once a Las Vegas restaurateur.

Russo’s alleged affair with Marilyn rests on a snapshot taken at Frank Sinatra’s Cal-Neva Lodge near Lake Tahoe a week before her death in 1962. He identifies himself as the young man at her left (with singer Buddy Greco at right), which may be true although his face is conveniently hidden from view. Moreover, the photo in itself is no proof of anything more than a brief acquaintance (at best.)

Russo claims that the affair began when he was sixteen and Marilyn thirty-three, which would date it back to 1959. He adds that their affair lasted for four years, but Marilyn died three years later. (I also highly doubt that Marilyn would have dated a teenager, when all her significant relationships were with older men.)

Costello had asked Russo to spy on Marilyn when she began her affair with John F. Kennedy, he contends (in fact, she may not have met the future president until much later.) He also believes that Marilyn was a gangster’s moll for many years, and it was the Mob who moved her to New York during her 1955 dispute with Twentieth Century Fox. This is untrue, as Marilyn arranged the move with photographer Milton Greene.

Gianni Russo in ‘The Godfather’ (1972)

Predictably, Russo also claims to know the truth about how Marilyn died. Mobster Sam Giancana had arranged to film her in flagrante with President Kennedy and his brother Robert during her last visit to Cal-Neva, Russo says. However, there is no conclusive evidence that Giancana was there that weekend, and the Kennedys were both elsewhere. Marilyn was invited by Sinatra himself.

Finally, Russo says that Marilyn was murdered by injection administered by a mob-connected M.D., probably on the orders of Bobby Kennedy. For more information on the Mafia and Marilyn’s death, I can highly recommend Donald McGovern’s Murder Orthodoxies.

Marilyn, Joe Kennedy, and ‘The German’

Photo by David Hoyt Hastie

Fifty years after her death, Marilyn makes the front cover of US scandal sheet, the National Examiner. Their ‘new’ story is that she was murdered by mafioso, including Frank ‘The German’ Schweihs, at the order of the president’s father, Joseph Kennedy. (This seems somewhat unlikely, as Joe had recently suffered a  debilitating stroke and was then incapable of speech.)

The mobster’s daughter, Nora Schweihs, denied this long-standing rumour last year on the axed reality show, Chicago Mob Wives. She is now writing a book, Marilyn Monroe: Murder Cover-Up, and says dramatically, ‘My father didn’t take his secrets to the grave, he gave them to me!’

This conspiracy theory was, in fact, first mooted in Milo Speriglio and Adela Gregory‘s 1992 book, Crypt 33, now available on Kindle.

Marilyn and the Chicago Mob Wives

Nora Schweihs – currently starring in TV’s Chicago Mob Wives – is the daughter of Frank Schweihs, who was alleged to have been involved in bringing about Marilyn’s untimely death by authors Milo Speriglio and Adela Gregory, in their 1993 book, Crypt 33: The Saga of Marilyn Monroe – The Final Word.

Here’s what Nora has to say about those rumours:

“They say he was a hit man and committed murders. My dad was never convicted of the things they accuse him of doing. The whole Marilyn Monroe story is just hearsay. My father taught me ‘never believe anything you don’t hear or see yourself.’ I live by that.”

Read this article in full at Starcasm

And here’s an extract from a review of Crypt 33 by MM expert David Marshall, author of The DD Group:

“Here’s the deal. While the book does not supply any final answers, it is a good primer on Marilyn’s death and the various theories as well as the various suspects. Reading it as a novice, I would imagine that it would be quite a revelation. Reading it after immersing myself in everything I could find regarding the night of August 4, 1962, I see nothing new here at all…Who these two detectives interviewed or saw or investigated in their five years remains as mysterious as the events of August 4. The bottom line to this or any Monroe book is simple: Can we trust any author to tell us Marilyn’s thoughts or present a full conversation with no source notes?”

You can read David’s review in full here

Mrs Hammond and the FBI

Marilyn and Frank Sinatra, 1960

A 1965 FBI file, now released in uncensored form, concerns one Jacqueline Hammond, a then 40 year-old divorcee living at New York’s Carlyle Hotel, who alleged that Jack, Robert, and Edward Kennedy had participated in ‘sex parties’ at the hotel, alongside Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford and his wife Pat (sister to the Kennedy brothers), and Marilyn Monroe.

According to the Telegraph,

“An FBI statement accompanying the released of the papers said: ‘[The file] contains a report of a rumour from an informant suggesting that elements of the Mafia wanted attack the character of Edward and Robert Kennedy and their brother-in-law Peter Lawford by working through associates of Frank Sinatra to compromise them at a New York party. Both Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe were to be involved.’

After looking into the claims, the FBI is said to have decided the information was not ‘solid’ enough and no other mention of it appears.”

What comes across most strongly when one peruses the Kennedy files is FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover‘s dislike of the Kennedys, and his almost obsessive crusade to discredit them.

However, it is possible that the Mafia might have planned a plot of this kind, as some writers have argued that mob bosses helped the Democratic Party to win Chicago in 1960’s election, and were deeply angered by Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s subsequent war against organised crime. The Mafia are also believed by some to have ordered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

But all of these theories are controversial, and rank among the many rumours surrounding the Kennedy family and the murders of both John and Robert.

What I find harder to believe is that Marilyn was really involved in these so-called orgies, and even less likely, that the Kennedys’ own sister would have wanted any part of it (as this would have verged on incest, after all.) Personally, I feel that the allegations are, at least partly, myth – but still the rumours persist.

As Marilyn Monroe’s most recent biographer, J. Randy Taraborrelli, has noted, FBI files are not always transparent:

“The less one relies on the FBI’s accounts of anything having to do with Marilyn Monroe, the better. Here’s the truth: None of it means a thing … any wacky ‘informant’ could say anything about a celebrity and it would end up in the FBI’s files as fact. This is one of the reasons why these files are so tantalizing to some historians … However, how much of it was just J. Edgar Hoover’s paranoia being passed down to his agents?”

Journalist Liz Smith, who has covered the entertainment industry for almost fifty years, makes this interesting observation in her column today…

“I’ll say this: Frank Sinatra really loved Marilyn. He was devastated by her death. He actually wanted to marry her in an effort to ‘save’ her. (Their mutual lawyer Milt Rudin advised against it—’what if she killed herself while you two were married? You’d be ruined!’) I once spoke with Nancy Sinatra about MM, and she said, ‘Oh, my father adored her.’

I honestly don’t believe Sinatra would have exposed the actress, especially in her fragile condition, to such scenarios. But, lots of people want to believe it, just as they want to ignore Marilyn’s mental problems, and make her a murder victim rather than the suicide she probably was.”