(NewsNation) — Shows like “The Sopranos” and movies such as “The Godfather” portray an idea of what it’s like to grow up in the mob, but unless you were actually there, you don’t get the whole picture.
Joseph Colombo was the head of the Colombo crime family, one of the five families of the American Mafia in New York City. He took over the family at 41, making him one of the youngest crime bosses in the country and, some say, the first one born in America.
During his time as head of the family, he faced threats from authorities and, of course, the other families. He also made alliances with very famous and powerful friends.
He started the Italian-American Civil Rights League and actually helped “The Godfather” movie get made.
On June 28, 1971, he was shot in New York’s Columbus Circle. He survived but spent the rest of his life paralyzed.
His son, Christopher Colombo, had a front row seat for his father’s life. During an appearance Monday night on NewsNation’s ‘Banfield,” Christopher said he hopes to clarify the truth about his father.
“The mafia is an abbreviation that was formed in Sicily, which means ‘to get the French out of our country.’ So they may have Italian-organized crime, like every other ethnic group, but the labeling and stereotyping has haunted Italians forever,” he said.
Christopher Colombo is currently a financial consultant and says his father never wanted him to get into the family business.
When asked if TV and film are accurately representing his father’s era, Colombo said they typically get it wrong.
“I think people actually emulate the movies and transform to them. The people of my father’s era were very good family men, good businessmen. Gentlemen. They didn’t curse. They didn’t drink. They didn’t do drugs. They didn’t smoke, and they held their morals very, very high,” he said.
Colombo said Paramount “really dropped the ball” when making “The Godfather.”
“It’s one of the reasons of talking to you today. When you use real-life experiences of people who have passed away, it means you have an obligation to tell the truth,” Christopher said.