Don Hollywood

The Mafia gave the movies material. The movies gave John Gotti a script

John Gotti thought of himself as the Caesar of the Mafia. But he was really its Commodus. As with the emperor in the movie Gladiator, when Gotti took over the Gambino crime family in 1985, some saw his ascension as a step backward for the family. He was muscle, a grunt, an obscure and none-too-bright soldier who wouldn't have become boss if so many of his betters weren't already in jail.

So, like Commodus, Gotti, who died of cancer in a prison hospital last week at 61, made up for his shortcomings with entertainments. He threw Fourth of July parties for...

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