Mario Gianluigi Puzo (October 15, 1920 – July 2, 1999) was a two time Academy Award-winning Italian American author, known for his novels about the Mafia, especially The Godfather(Film).
Puzo was born into a poor family of Neapolitan immigrants living in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. Many of his books draw heavily on this heritage. After graduating from the City College of New York, he joined the United States Army Air Forces in World War II. Due to poor eyesight, the military did not let him undertake combat duties but made him a public relations officer stationed in Germany. After the war, he wrote his first book, The Dark Arena, which was published in 1955.
His most famous work, The Godfather, was first published in 1969 after he had heard anecdotes about Mafia organizations during his time in pulp journalism. The book was later developed into the film The Godfather directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola and Puzo collaborated then to work on sequels to the original film, The Godfather Part II and The Godfather Part III).
Puzo wrote the first draft of the script for the 1974 disaster film Earthquake, which he was unable to continue working on due to his commitment to The Godfather: Part II. Puzo also co-wrote Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie and the original draft for Superman II.
Puzo never saw the publication of his penultimate book, Omertà, but the manuscript was finished before his death, as was the manuscript for The Family. However, in a review originally published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Jules Siegel, who had worked closely with Puzo at Magazine Management Company, doubted that Puzo had actually finished Omertà and expressed the view that it may have been completed by "some talentless hack."
Puzo died of heart failure on July 2, 1999 at his home in Bay Shore, Long Island, New York. His family now lives in East Islip, New York