No, it's not the mansion where Jack Woltz (John Marley) woke up to find his horsey's head in his bed. This fabulous estate from Francis Ford Coppola's 'The Godfather' was the home of the Corleone family, where Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) hosted the grand wedding of his spoiled daughter Connie (Talia Shire) and couldn't refuse the request of favors by neighbors like the undertaker Bonasera (Salvatore Corsitto).
No, it's not the mansion where Jack Woltz (John Marley) woke up to find his horsey's head in his bed. This fabulous estate from Francis Ford Coppola's 'The Godfather' was the home of the Corleone family, where Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) hosted the grand wedding of his spoiled daughter Connie (Talia Shire) and couldn't refuse the request of favors by neighbors like the undertaker Bonasera (Salvatore Corsitto).

Just as it was in the movie, the house, at 110 Longfellow Avenue in Staten Island, is a family estate, owned by the Nortons. Ed Norton III (no, not the New York City sewer worker, nor the 'Fight Club' actor) recently led a reporter from the Fox affiliate in New York on a tour of the location, which has been in the Norton family for more than 50 years. Norton says Coppola and company used his family's home for more than a year, and his mother recorded her own behind-the-scenes film of the 1972 flick. In fact, Mrs. Norton filmed more than eight hours of material, which her son says may end up on a DVD someday (note to Paramount: Mrs. Norton's footage would make a great addition to the inevitable 40th anniversary 'Godfather' DVD re-release that's right around the corner, hmmm?).

Location as Character: Not only was the Corleone mansion the site of 'The Godfather's' beginning -- Connie's wedding -- but it was also the site of The Godfather's end. From hosting Connie's wedding, where Mama Corleone sang, Frank Sinatra-ish heartthrob Johnny Fontane (Al Martino) made a special appearance and sang to the bride, and hothead brother Sonny Corleone (James Caan) threw a hissy fit about the government agents who were staking out that place; to serving as the Corleone "family" meeting place when the mobsters were planning to go to the mattresses to the death of Don Vito, it all happened at the Corleone estate.

What might have been: Initially, Paramount execs balked at Coppola's plan to use real-world locations to make the movie, instead of much cheaper studio sets. But when Mario Puzo's 'The Godfather' novel, on which the movie series is based, began to sell millions of copies, studio honchos had to admit there was an audience for the mobster tale and signed off on Coppola's proposal. There was just one more hurdle to overcome to film at the Norton family's home. Much of the look of the estate in the movie -- including the giant stone walls that enclosed the Corleone house -- were constructed just for filming. The production's designers made many modifications to the homestead, in fact, which Mrs. Norton OK'ed, as long as Coppola and company agreed to pay to have everything restored to its original state once filming wrapped.



Historical Significance: Fughettaboudit! Without 'The Godfather,' there would have been no 'Sopranos,' one of the greatest TV dramas of all time, and no 'Goodfellas,' another great, Oscar-winning mobster flick; not to mention the fact that 'The Godfather' launched the careers of unknowns Coppola and Al Pacino. 'The Godfather' would go on to win three Oscars itself (including Best Picture) and place second on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 greatest movies. As Oscar-winning director of 'The French Connection' and 'The Exorcist' William Friedkin says in a 'Godfather' DVD interview, Coppola's movie was a "touchstone for films about organized crime." Movie mobsters were, previously, fairly one-dimensional characters (i.e. gun-toting bad guys), and Coppola fleshed them out to tell not only a crime story, but also one of the greatest family stories ever filmed, too.

"''The Godfather' was the Italian 'Star Wars,'" says Joe Mantegna, who played Joey Zasa in 'Godfather III.' "It's a religion," adds 'Law & Order: SVU' star Richard Belzer in a 'Godfather' DVD interview.

Fun Fact: The Corleone estate tomato garden where grandpa Vito was playing with his grandson Anthony shortly before his death? It's been replaced by a swimming pool, which the Nortons installed after Coppola's crew paid to have the family's home restored to its original state.

Directions: The house is located at 110 Longfellow Ave. in Emerson Hill on Staten Island, one of the five boroughs of New York City. Emerson Hill -- named after the judge brother of Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the hilly neighborhood's former residents -- is in the northern part of the island, near the Staten Island Expressway. To get there from Manhattan, take I-278 west, to exit 13. Continue on Little Clove Road to Renwick Ave. and turn left. Make another left on Milford Dr., bear right on Ocean Terrace and then turn left onto Longfellow Ave. The house will be on the right.

Visitor's Info: The estate is a private residence, and it's located on a cul-de-sac, so visitors should respect the neighborhood and its inhabitants and not block the street.
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