|Behind the scenes|
|Portrayed by||Simonetta Stefanelli|
Apollonia Vitelli was born in the hills around Corleone, Sicily. Apollonia was the daughter of a Greek mother and a Sicilian father, both of whom were incredibly protective of her and never wanted her heritage to be confused. She was the third child, having two older brothers. Apollonia grew into a very beautiful young woman.
Apollonia and Michael Edit
Shortly after Michael Corleone arrives in Sicily following his escape from New York, Apollonia encounters Michael, who was returning from an excursion in the village of Corleone with his bodyguards, Calò and Fabrizio. The two men claimed Michael has been hit by what Sicilians call "the Thunderbolt" – a powerful, almost dangerous longing in a man for a particular woman. After making inquiries with Apollonia's father, Michael gains a careful approval from Signor Vitelli to begin an Old World courtship, whereupon the entire Vitelli family would be chaperoning. Michael willingly agreed to this out of respect for the Sicilian way and Apollonia. Over the course of time, the couple was shown doing activities such as picnics and taking walks while Vitelli family members casually participated, and Michael presenting Signora Vitelli with jewelry to gain her approval before she passed it on to her daughter as a gift. The courtship served a dual purpose; that Michael would be marrying into the entire Vitelli family and for him to honor the fact she was a virgin. After a term of this courtship, Signore and Signora Vitelli grant their blessing for Michael to marry Apollonia, and Signor Vitelli gives her away in an elaborate wedding ceremony.
Apollonia had a loving marriage with Michael, albeit a very short one. She had also taken some traits that her parents had worried about in the first place; that she was beginning to distance herself from her Sicilian roots. Now having an American husband, Apollonia had started to adopt ways of American women, such as cigarette smoking and new hairstyles. Michael's American attitude about relationships gave Apollonia more freedom in their marriage than traditional Sicilian ones Apollonia had grown up seeing. This indirectly led to her doom one day as the couple was nearing their first anniversary. When Michael was readying to relocate due to concern for his safety after the murder of his brother Sonny, Apollonia wished to impress her husband that she had taught herself how to drive. Sicilian women in that time generally did not learn how to drive. When she started the car, she ignited a car bomb intended for Michael and died instantly. The attack was orchestrated by Michael's trusted bodyguard, Fabrizio, who was paid off by the Barzini family from New York.
After Apollonia's death, Michael returns to the United States and marries Kay Adams, though she is unaware that he had been married, then made a widower, while he was living in Sicily. Years later, Fabrizio was killed in the pizza parlor where he worked, by a Corleone hitman; concurrently with the infamous simultaneous hit of all the family rivals.
Apollonia's death made Michael a man with an uncontrollable thirst for revenge, which would set a chain reaction of events in motion. Ultimately, Michael's attitude he gained when he was widowed would cause the self-destruction of the Corleone family. Michael would never fully recover from the loss and he would remember Apollonia and her death for the rest of his life.
- "She was wonderful, beautiful. I loved her. And then she died. My trusted bodyguard planted a bomb in my car. She drove it before I did."
- ―Michael Corleone[src]
Despite re-marrying and having two children with Kay, Michael carried the memory of Apollonia with him until his death. He was particularly reminded of her by the Sicilian ballad 'Brucia La Terra', which his son Anthony performed for him upon his return to Sicily in 1980.
49 years after her death, Michael died in the same courtyard where her life was taken.
Behind the scenesEdit
- In The Godfather novel, Apollonia was pregnant at the time of the explosion. This detail is not specified in the film, though it may have been true.
- In a deleted scene of The Godfather Part II (later restored in The Godfather Saga), Michael avenges Apollonia's death by killing Fabrizio with a bomb placed in his car at his pizzeria in Buffalo. In the novel, Michael loses contact with Fabrizio, taking a long time to find him again, where it is learned he has opened a pizzeria in Buffalo. However, Fabrizio's endgame is slightly different. He is at work when nothing appears out of the ordinary, when near quitting time a man walks in appearing to be a potential customer. The man, actually a member of the Corleone crime family, produces a lupara (short-barrelled shotgun) and says "Michael Corleone sends his regards" and opens fire. Fabrizio is hit in the chest, whereupon he bleeds to death almost immediately.