Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Former Bonanno soldier discusses Robert DeNiro's movie The Family

Recently, WAMG was treated to a delicious Italian meal with real-life (former) mobster Ronald "Ronnie" Lorenzo, and several other members of the press, to celebrate the release of THE FAMILY on DVD. Check out some of the dinner chat below!
Here is a little background on Ronnie Lorenzo:
According to the newspapers, Ronnie was “allegedly” associated with the Bonanno family. The Bonanno crime family is known to be one of the ‘five families’ within the Mafia that controls organized crime actvities in New York. Aside from his ‘family’, Ronnie has been around ‘street guys’ for his entire life since he was just 12 years old.
Ronnie was born on January 4th 1946 in New York City. When he was very young Ronnie was in the Firework Business, then he opened after-hours clubs (many with gambling) around the city. He was also involved in a few discos… and the last club he owned before leaving New York was a Jazz club at 210 W. 70th St. and Broadway called The Grand Finale, which is where Woody Allen shot the movie ANNIE HALL. Ronnie sold it in 1979, and moved to California in 1982, where he opened up a few restaurants in Malibu called Dudley’s, Splash, and a pizza restaurant Spruzzo, which means ’splash’ in Italian. Spruzzo is still open, and Splash is now The Sunset Restaurant. Ronnie also opened Mulberry St. Pizza on Cannon Drive in Beverly Hills, and was partners with James Caan and the actress Cathy Moriarty. Shorty after opening Mulberry St., Ronnie was “locked up” and sold his interest to Cathy and her boyfriend. Once released, he opened up another place in Brentwood called Lorenzo’s but in his words “the rent was killer so I sold it”.
After moving to California, Ronnie was charged with conspiracy, drugs, racketeering and “whatever else they could put on me”. As Ronnie best explained, “I was no angel, but I was never a drug dealer. The FBI set me up over a period of about 5 years. They paid a Rat “Fat Ralph Franchi”, and he was a low-life pimp from Boston’s North End. They paid him over a million dollars to put me in a trap, so that the Feds could make a Rat out of me, but it didn’t work! I would not cooperate with them so they were left with the case that they put a lot of time and money in. They even set up a phony production office to try and get me to straighten out some fake union problems they made up so they could lock up some Teamsters, I never fell for it.” As a first offender, Ronnie served 11 years and 5 years on supervised release for a charge that called for 10 years.
Ronnie’s life today is much different from his past. He changed his life around, and does his best to stay on the “straight and narrow” path. Ronnie and his wife have been together for over 50 years, and have been married for 45 years. They have two daughters and two grandsons. Nowadays, Ronnie spends as much time as he can watching his grandkids play baseball and other sports.
The movie is produced by Martin Scorsese… and it had Robert DeNiro, Michele Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones. In the movie, DeNiro’s character actually watches GOODFELLAS.  Is GOODFELLAS the high mark for mobster movies?
Ronnie Lorenzo: Pretty much. GOODFELLAS is probably the most realistic mob movie in that way. The people I’ve known and the characters they’ve portrayed were pretty good. Robert DeNiro played a character named Jimmy Conway, but in real life it was Jimmy Burke. DeNiro really had him spot on too. He was a great guy and an Irish guy. Because of that, he held the respect of every made man.
What are some of your favorite movies of the mobster genre?
Ronnie Lorenzo: Probably my favorite mob movie will be ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA. You watch those kids grow up for the first hour of the movie, you really know the characters and you know them well. That’s really sweet. Of course, THE GODFATHER is a good movie. For reality, GOODFELLAS is real. It’s as real as it gets.
You’ve seen the movie. How realistic is the plot of THE FAMILY?
Ronnie Lorenzo: Not at all. I guess it shouldn’t be because it’s not a documentary. It’s entertainment. A lot of things I pick at… other people don’t. They send six guys to kill one guy. [Laughs] And these six guys came with rocket-launchers [laughs] and God knows how many guns and rifles. How did they get to France? I guess they could have had somebody in Italy bring it to France or something… so, I guess there’s a possibility. It was entertaining. In reality, that doesn’t exist.
THE FAMILY depicts Manzoni’s wife and children as violent as he is. Is that typically the case in mob families?
Ronnie Lorenzo: No, I don’t think so. Look, you can’t paint everybody with the same brush. From what I know, any respectful guy always has the business completely separate from his family. Sometimes, the wives and kids get into trouble… and the FBI will use that as a hammer. If you get your wife involved in something, they will use that as a hammer against you.
DeNiro plays a lot of these characters. What is he doing right?
Ronnie Lorenzo: He grew up in our neighborhoods. I knew Marty [Scorsese] when he was a kid. I didn’t know him well. DeNiro hung out with us when I was a kid… and he was a little older than I was. He was from Fourteenth Street. He was known as “Bobby Fourtheeth Street… or Bobby Irish.” [Laughter] He’s still friends with a couple of my friends back then. Bobby’s been around us. He’s from New York and Downtown. He would know it. Mean streets is pretty much how we grew up. That’s my neighborhood. Marty knows it well.
When they shot the movie… I was supposed to be in the movie. Many of my friends had small parts in the movie. I chose not be on camera since I’m not an actor. DeNiro really has it down. But, Marty is the ones who gets the actors to perform well. If you see DeNiro perform as a gangster in this picture as compared to the one directed by Marty… there’s a world of difference.
Are there good mob stories that haven’t been told yet?
Ronnie Lorenzo: Plenty! [Laughs] In fact, I’m in the middle of something now that they’re going to make a series out of. I can’t talk about it. There’s a movie that should be made about Joe Colombo. He was head of the Colombo crime family. He’s the youngest boss ever to have a family named after him. He started a league called the Italian-American Civil Rights League. You know, in THE GODFATHER you never hear the word “Mafia” or “Cosa Nostra.” Joe Colombo was responsible for getting them not to use those words in the movie. It would make a great story. His son, Joe Jr., and I have put together an outline for a movie.
In the dark action comedy The Family, a Mafia boss and his family are relocated to a sleepy town in France under the Witness Protection Program after snitching on the mob. Despite Agent Stansfield’s (Tommy Lee Jones) best efforts to keep them in line, Fred Manzoni (Robert De Niro), his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and their children, Belle (Dianna Agron) and Warren (John D’Leo), can’t help resorting to old habits by handling their problems the “family” way. Chaos ensues as their former Mafia cronies try to track them down and scores are settled in the unlikeliest of settings, in this subversively funny film by Luc Besson.



  1. What was the famous tasty Roasted pepper dish Maggie Took across the street To the FBI called anybody?

  2. Loved this, very entertaining