- "Your father did business with Hyman Roth, your father respected Hyman Roth, but your father never trusted Hyman Roth!"
- ―Frank Pentangeli to Michael Corleone[src]
Frank "Frankie Five Angels" Pentangeli was a caporegime in the Corleone family. He was an old associate and friend of Vito Corleone, having worked with him in the early days of the olive oil business. He ran the family operations in New York when Michael Corleone was in Nevada.
Pentangeli was born in Partinico, a town in the Province of Palermo, Sicily. He immigrated to New York, United States. He had an Italian wife and children, as well as a mistress, whose children he sent to live in Sicily with his brother Vincenzo.
In the 1930s, Pentangeli ingratiated himself with Giuseppe Mariposa, the Sicilian warlord who felt he controlled the streets of New York. Pentangeli later secretly sided with Vito Corleone and continually reported back to Peter Clemenza what Mariposa was planning, keeping the Corleones one step ahead of the game.
However, Mariposa grew suspicious of Pentangeli, and Vito Corleone, fearful for his friend's safety, brought Pentangeli under his protection as they prepared for war with Mariposa.
Moving up in the family
After Clemenza's death, Pentangeli took over the Clemenza regime, and headed the Corleone family's operations in New York while Michael and Fredo Corleone were in Las Vegas. He also moved into the old Corleone estate on Long Island.
Pentangeli and the Rosatos
- "Look, let's get 'em all -- let's get 'em all now, while we got the muscle."
- ―Frank Pentangeli to Michael Corleone[src]
In 1958, Pentangeli approached Michael to ask for his help in eliminating the Rosato Brothers, his rivals in New York, who claimed to have been promised territories by Clemenza prior to his death, but Michael refused. He ordered Pentangeli to do nothing, as he did not want a war to interfere with an upcoming deal with Hyman Roth, who supported the Rosato Brothers. Pentangeli took this as an insult and left in despair, saying "There will be no trouble from me". Later that night, Michael narrowly escaped an assassination attempt at his home.
Suspecting that Hyman Roth was behind the assassination attempt, Michael met with Pentangeli and asked him to help take his revenge. Pentangeli agreed, promising to end his feud with the Rosato Brothers and giving the impression that Michael supported their claim, so as to give Roth the impression that Michael did not know he was conspiring against him.
Back in New York, Frank arranged a meeting with the Rosato Brothers to make a new deal with them. However the deal was a set up and Tony Rosato himself garroted Pentangeli, claiming to have been sent by Michael. He only survived due to his own screams, which alerted a nearby police officer.
The Senate hearings
- "I never knew no Godfather. I got my own family, Senator."
"Mr. Pentangeli, you are contradicting a sworn statement you'd previously made to me and signed. I ask you again, sir, here and now under oath... were you at anytime a member of a crime organization... headed by Michael Corleone?"
- ―Frank Pentangeli and the Chairman of the Committee[src]
Later, at a Senate hearing into organized crime, Pentangeli was presented as a surprise witness. Believing that Michael ordered the Rosato Brothers to kill him, he had been in the custody of the FBI along with Willie Cicci since the murder attempt. Facing charges of first-degree murder, bookmaking and possession of drug paraphernalia, Pentangeli agreed to testify against Michael. He told FBI agents, and was prepared to tell the committee, that Michael was the most powerful Mafia chief in the nation, and headed a crime family that controlled all of the gambling in North America and had ordered countless murders. Most damningly, he was prepared to testify that Michael personally murdered Captain McCluskey and Virgil Sollozzo in 1947, and made plans for a mass slaughter of the other New York Dons as early as 1950. Cicci had testified to this as well, but was unable to directly implicate Michael in illegal activity because he never received direct orders from him. In contrast, since Pentangeli was a caporegime, there was no insulation between Michael and himself. The committee thus considered Pentangeli very credible, and was confident he could corroborate Cicci's testimony and send Michael to prison.
Because Pentangeli's protective custody was so secure, Michael could not have him killed before the hearing. Instead, he flew Vincenzo in from Sicily. Upon seeing his brother in the committee room, Frank denied his written testimony and feigned ignorance of the Corleone family's criminal activities.
- "They went home and sat in a hot bath and opened their veins, and bled to death. Sometimes they gave a little party before they did it."
"Don't worry about anything, Frankie Five Angels."
"Thanks Tom. Thanks."
- ―Frank Pentangeli and Tom Hagen[src]
After the hearing, Tom Hagen visited Pentangeli. Pentangeli discussed how tough his brother was, much tougher than himself. Hagen subtly told Pentangeli that he did the right thing by recanting, and that if he accepted responsibility for turning on the Corleone family, his own family would always be taken care of and remained unharmed, as had happened with insurrectionists against the Roman Emperors. He thanked Hagen, returned to his room, and slit his wrists in the bathtub with his shaving razor, killing himself. The Corleones kept their word, and Frank's family was well provided for.
Personality and traits
Frank Pentangeli was an experienced street enforcer before he became Clemenza's right-hand man. He was prone to making rash decisions and would not readily back down from a fight when challenged, particularly on matters of honour, such as his disputes with the Rosato Brothers. He was also deeply fond of his family and of young children, giving Anthony Corleone a reasonable sum of money at his Communion Party at Lake Tahoe. This made him a popular man to have around. This tendency also helped him become integrated with Mariposa in the 1930s, and avoid suspicion even whilst acting as a spy.
In the video game
In the video game adaption of The Godfather Part II, Pentangeli acts as a mentor to Dominic after he has been made the new Don of New York. Pentangeli warns him about the Rosato Brothers, and is garroted in a meeting with Carmine Rosato himself at Richie's Tavern. However, as with the film, Frank survives and turns traitor for the state, but is persuaded against this by the appearance of his brother Vincenzo.
Behind the scenes
- Frank Pentangeli is based on Joe Profaci. Profaci, as boss of the Profaci crime family, denied the Gallo brothers a cut into a racket in the early 1960s, which sparked off a revolt against Profaci's leadership.
- He's also inspired by Joe Valachi, who was the first member of the Mafia to publicly acknowledge the existence of the Mafia in front of a Senate committee.
- The attempt on his life by the Rosato brothers is inspired by the murder attempt on Larry Gallo, who was garroted in a bar during a sit-down and narrowly survived when a policeman intervened.
- Playing the role originally intended for Peter Clemenza, Pentangeli was written in when Richard S. Castellano declined to return for the sequel. He was played by Michael V. Gazzo in the film and Joe Hanna in the game.
- Frank's nickname, "Frankie Five Angels" was most likely derived from his last name, Pentangeli, because Pente is the Greek stem for "five" and Angeli meaning "angels."