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Bonanno, Salvatore 1932-2008 (Bill Bonanno, Salvatore Vincent Bonanno)

Bonanno, Salvatore 1932-2008 (Bill Bonanno, Salvatore Vincent Bonanno)


See index for CA sketch: Born November 5, 1932, in Brooklyn, NY; died after a heart attack, January 1, 2008, in Tucson, AZ. Organized crime boss, film producer, and author. Bonanno inherited a place in the world of organized crime through his father, notorious crime boss Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno, but always claimed that he had not been groomed for the position. Instead he was raised in the American Southwest, attended college, and intended to pursue a legitimate business career. Circumstances related to his family's position caused him to return to Brooklyn in the 1950s, and gradually "Bill" was absorbed into the family enterprise until, in 1966, his father elevated him to second-in-charge of the extended crime family. Not all "family" members agreed with the decision, however. Bill survived an assassination attempt, he and his father were forced to abandon New York for the West, and the younger Bonanno reportedly turned his back on the family business forever. In truth, Bill spent the rest of his life leveraging his personal experiences into books, films, and television programs that he produced through the film company Halfway to Tucson, which he had founded with a cousin. He spent several brief periods in jail for what are generally described as miscellaneous white-collar crimes, but was never convicted of gangland activities or violent offenses. Bonanno described his family's activities in the book Bound by Honor: A Mafioso's Story (1999), which was generally praised by critics for its dramatic yet unsentimental treatment of life in the Mafia, and which was later adapted for television by the author himself. Bonanno also wrote a novel with the former federal agent known as Donnie Brasco and with the collaboration of a professional writer. The mystery novel The Good Guys (2005) was, like Bound by Honor, a surprise to critics who had been skeptical of the coauthors' literary credentials, and it became a modest success. While he may have turned his back on a life of crime, Bonanno the writer profited from his family background for the rest of his life.



Bonanno, Bill, Bound by Honor: A Mafioso's Story, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Bonanno, Joseph, A Man of Honor: The Autobiography of Joseph Bonanno, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1983.

Bonanno, Rosalie, and Beverly Donofrio, Mafia Marriage: My Story, Morrow (New York, NY), 1990.

Talese, Gay, Honor Thy Father, World Publishing (New York, NY), 1971.


Chicago Tribune, January 3, 2008, sec. 3, p. 6.

Los Angeles Times, January 3, 2008, p. B6.

New York Times, January 3, 2008, p. C11; January 9, 2008, p. A2.


Bill Bonanno Home Page, (April 10, 2008).

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