- "You know, I once asked the Don for a job in his organization and he wouldn't give it to me. I was tired of driving a truck and I wanted to make a lot of dough. You know what he told me? He says every man has one destiny and that my destiny was to be an artist. Meaning that I couldn't be a racket guy."
- ―Nino Valenti[src]
Born in Little Italy, Nino was good friends with Johnny Fontane in his youth, working with him on the garbage trucks, and remained so after Fontane became a star. Nino was also one of the many godsons of Don Vito Corleone. He promised to get Nino a job in Hollywood, but did not follow through, and Valenti continued to work on the garbage trucks. At this time, he became a heavy drinker. He once asked Vito Corleone for a job in his organization, but the Don kindly refused, saying that Nino's destiny was to be an artist.
At the wedding of Connie Corleone, Nino played the mandolin and sang alongside his old friend Fontane, who had come to ask a favor of Vito, his Godfather. Vito accepted, helping Johnny win a part in a new war movie, and, hoping to please his Godfather, Johnny released a single with Nino, who appeared in a movie soon after. Nino eventually became a somewhat successful singer and actor.
Life after Hollywood
Eventually, Nino realized that the Hollywood life was not for him, after being serviced at a movie screening by Deanna Dunn, and witnessing an almost orgiastic ceremony at the post-Oscar ceremony. He was, however, the only true friend of Johnny Fontane's present when Fontane won his Oscar.
He continued to drink, despite the advice of his doctors, including Jules Segal, and died in 1955 of a brain hemorrhage as a result of his unhealthy lifestyle. Don Corleone had wished to attend the funeral but was too unwell to travel, so only Fredo Corleone and Al Neri came to represent the Corleone family. The Nino Valenti Fund was established in his honor by Johnny Fontane to help aging actors and singers who were out of work.
Personality and traits
A light hearted joker, Nino was also a lifelong alcoholic. However, he was often more lucid than he appeared to be and realized that pretending to be drunk allowed him greater freedom than if he seemed sober. Near the end of his life he continued drinking despite warning from his doctor that his lifestyle would kill him. It is likely that he continued in his lifestyle due to suicidal ideation caused by severe depression.