He was born in Brooklyn, New York City in 1926 of Italian American heritage. Prior to becoming an actor, Montana was a professional wrestler and a mobster. He also worked as a bouncer and doorman at several clubs in the 1950s.
His wrestling career started in 1961, Montana came to the Tampa Bay area wrestling under a hood, The Zebra Kid was an intimidating fellow, often pinning his opponents in under one minute. His classic battles with Eddie Graham sold out Fort Homer Hesterly Armory many Tuesday nights in the summer of 1961
Montana also wrestled under the names of Lenny 'Bull' Montana and "Chief Chickawicki" in the 1950s and 1960s before turning to acting.
Montana's first film appearance was that of the feared mob enforcer Luca Brasi in The Godfather and despite relatively little on-screen time his performance was quite memorable. He was supposedly so frightened about appearing opposite Marlon Brando that he kept bungling his lines. Eventually, this was written into the script as an attack of nerves.
He starred in a number of other movies such as The Jerk (1979) and alongside Jackie Chan in The Big Brawl (1980), but retired after making his final movie, Blood Song, in 1982.
He is the father to a son, Lenny Montana .Jr
Montana died of a heart attack in 1992, 66 years of age.