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Tell Mike it wasn't personal. It was strictly business. I always liked him.
~ Sal Tessio after being exposed as a traitor

Salvatore "Sal" Tessio is the secondary antagonist from The Godfather novel and films. He was one of the two original caporegimes of the Corleone Family.

In the first film, he was portrayed by the late Abe Vigoda, who also voiced Salvatore Valestra in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. In the second film, he was portrayed by John Aprea.


Born in Sicily, Tessio immigrated to the United States at a young age. By 1917 he was living in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. During that time he became friends with another young Sicilian immigrant named Peter Clemenza. Clemenza introduced him to his neighbor Vito Corleone and the three were soon friends. The three carried out petty crimes together and performed favors in exchange for loyalty.

The three men came to the attention of the local padrone, Don Fanucci, who attempted to extort money from them. Frightened, both Tessio and Clemenza wanted to pay off Fanucci, convinced that he was Mafia connected. However, Vito thought Fanucci was an independent operator who was tricking local immigrants into thinking he was a member of the Mafia. He talked Tessio and Clemenza into only giving Fanucci a fraction of what he demanded. Vito met Fanucci in a cafe and gave him the money. Fanucci was impressed with Vito's courage and accepted the money. This confirmed to Vito that Fanucci was not a member of the Mafia. During a festival he shot and killed Fanucci - with the sounds of the festival covering up the noise.

The killing established Vito as the leader of the group. Together they took over Fanucci's neighborhood, treating the people there with far more respect then Fanucci ever did. Vito soon became a powerful and respected figure in the neighborhood. Vito set up Genco Pura Olive Oil Importers as a front for his criminal activities.

A young Sal Tessio.

By the 1930s, Vito had established the Corleone crime family as one of the five mafia families in New York City. He founded the Commission with other mafia families. Tessio became one of the two original caporegimes in the family with Clemenza. Tessio ran Corleone operations in Brooklyn. The two respected Vito so much that they no longer called Vito by his first name, instead calling him Don Vito, Don Corleone or Godfather.

When an assassination attempt was made on Vito in 1945, Tessio tried unsuccessfully to rein in Vito's son and successor Sonny's fierce temper. After Sonny was murdered and Vito's youngest son Michael went into hiding in Sicily in 1947, Tessio presumably ran the Corleone family along with a still recovering Vito, Clemenza and consigliere Tom Hagen. (Vito's middle son, Fredo, was considered too "weak and stupid" to be trusted with serious power.)

In the early 1950s, Vito retired as the Don of the family, with Michael as his successor. Tessio thought highly of Michael, but didn't think that he would be able to maintain the family after Vito died. He began plotting with Vito's rival Don Emilio Barzini to have Michael assassinated, leaving Tessio to take over the Corleone family. Shortly before Vito died he warned Michael that a traitor would approach him about attending truce talks with Barzini after his death and that Michael would be assassinated at that meeting.

Vito died in 1955. At Vito's funeral Tessio approached Michael and told him that Barzini wanted to talk peace and that he could arrange it to take place in Brooklyn. This confirmed to Michael that Tessio was the traitor. Consigliere Tom Hagen was surprised at this, thinking Clemenza would have turned, not Tessio. Michael responded that this was the smart move and that Tessio had always been the smarter of the capos. A few days later, as they prepared to leave for the talks, Willie Cicci informed Tessio that Michael would come in a separate car. Tessio complained that this was messing up his arrangements, at which point Hagen told him he couldn't come either. As soldiers surrounded him Tessio realized that he had been found out. He told Hagen to tell Michael that it had not been personal, only business. Hagen assured Tessio that Michael knew that. Tessio asked Hagen if he could get him off the hook, Hagen said he couldn't do it. Tessio was led away to be killed as Hagen looked on.


           The Godfather Logo.png Villains

The Commision
Vito Corleone | Philip Tattaglia | Emilio Barzini | Carmine Cuneo | Victor Stracci | Michael Corleone

Corleone Family
Vito Corleone | Sonny Corleone | Fredo Corleone | Michael Corleone | Connie Corleone | Vincent Corleone | Luca Brasi | Peter Clemenza | Salvatore Tessio | Tom Hagen | Al Neri | Rocco Lampone | Paulie Gatto | Willie Cicci | Frank Pentangeli | Joey Zasa | Aldo Trapani | Dominic Trapani

Tattaglia Family
Philip Tattaglia | Bruno Tattaglia | Virgil Sollozzo | Mark McCluskey | Don Altobello

Barzini Family
Emilio Barzini | Emilio Barzini Jr.

Carlo Rizzi | Moe Greene | Nick Geraci | Hyman Roth | Francesco Ciccio | Don Fanucci | Johnny Ola | Licio Lucchesi | Archbishop Gilday | Frederick Keinszig | Pat Geary


Animated Features
Beavis and Butt-head | Dallas Grimes | Muddy Grimes | Principal McVicker | Angelica Pickles | Scar Snout | Rex Pester | Eric Cartman | Saddam Hussein | Sheila Broflovski | Satan | Mr. Garrison | Chef | Randy Marsh | Shelly Marsh | Gerald Broflovski | Coco LaBouche | Jean-Claude | King Goobot | Ooblar | Poultra | Alphonse Perrier du von Scheck | Nick Vermicelli | Big Bob Pataki | Sloan Blackburn | Bree Blackburn | Poachers | Siri | Sheldon Plankton | Karen Plankton | Mr. Krabs | Dennis | Cyclops | Victor | Boat Jacker | The Thug Tug Gang | Film Actor's Guild (Alec Baldwin | Kim Jong-il) | Vincent | Gladys Sharp | Dwayne LaFontant | Dag | Nora Beady | Coyotes | The Toad | Le Frog | Spike & Whitey | Thimblenose Ted | Fat Barry | Ladykiller | Henchfrogs | Prince Charming | Trees | Rapunzel | Layton T. Montgomery | Ken | Tai Lung | Criminals | Makunga | Teetsi | Nana | Tour Guide | Poachers | Gallaxhar | Robot Probes | Red Death | Rumpelstiltskin | Pied Piper | Megamind | Minion | Tighten | Tortoise John | Rattlesnake Jake | Bad Bill | Hawk | Balthazar Douglas Peterson | Lord Shen | Lord Shen's Wolf Army (Boss Wolf) | Jack & Jill | Humpty Alexander Dumpty | Maybelle | Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine | Sakharine's Pirates (Allan, Tom, & Pedro) | Falcon | Aristides Silk | Red Rackham | Chantel DuBois | DuBois' Men | Pitch Black | Nightmares | Burger-Beard | Moriarty | Reggie and Ronnie | Chimpanzombies | King Poseidon | El Diablo | Mayor Humdinger | Kitten Catastrophe Crew

Live Action Films
Don Altobello | Emilio Barzini | Emilio Barzini Jr. | Luca Brasi | Francesco Ciccio | Carmine Cuneo | Michael Corleone | Vito Corleone | Sonny Corleone | Fredo Corleone | Connie Corleone | Vincent Corleone | Peter Clemenza | Carmine Cuneo | Don Fanucci | Paulie Gatto | Archbishop Gilday | Moe Greene | Tom Hagen | Rocco Lampone | Licio Lucchesi | Mark McCluskey | Al Neri | Frank Pentangeli | Carlo Rizzi | Hyman Roth | Virgil Sollozzo | Victor Stracci | Philip Tattaglia | Bruno Tattaglia | Salvatore Tessio | Joey Zasa | Orca | Captain Nolan | Mr. Firat | Assassins (Moras) | Katahdin | Jason Voorhees | Bluto | Vermithrax Pejorative | Tyrian | Adolf Hitler | René Belloq | Major Arnold Ernst Toht | Herman Dietrich | Gobler | German Mechanic | Otto | Satipo | Barranca | Mola Ram | Chief Guard | Chattar Lal | Lao Che | Victor Maitland | Curly Shepard | Tim Shepard | Texan Thugs | Maxwell Dent | Karla Fry | Walter Donovan | Elsa Schneider | Ernst Vogel | Panama Hat | Garth | Carl Bruner | Willy Lopez | Holli Would | The Goons | Mr. Curran | Ellis De Wald | Orrin Sanderson | Steve Fulbright | King Edward I of England | Prince Edward | Marion Hawthorne | Agatha K. Plummer | Jim Phelps | Franz Krieger | Max Mitsopolis | Claire Phelps | Matthias | Governor Tracy | Castor Troy | Pollux Troy | Kurt Bozwell | Troy and Griffin | Roxanne | Cal Hockley | Spicer Lovejoy | Ruth DeWitt Bukater | Steamboat Willie | Christof | Lady Van Tassel | Headless Horseman | Reverend Steenwyck | Sean Ambrose | Hugh Stamp | John C. McCloy | Wallis | Ulrich | Michael | Simon | Henry Gates | Richard and Jay | Count Olaf | Hook-Handed Man | Henchperson of Indeterminate Gender | Bald Man | White-Faced Women | Zateb Kazim | Yves Massarde | Zakara | Martians | Owen Davian | John Musgrave | Brownway | Kimbrough | Ramses | Brooks & Elwyn | Megatron | Decepticons (Starscream, Barricade, Frenzy, Blackout, Scorponok, Bonecrusher, Brawl, & Dispensor) | Grendel | Grendel's Mother | Dragon | Clover | Parasites | Irina Spalko | Antonin Dovchenko | George McHale | Mulgarath | Red Cap | Goblins | Mole Troll | Lindsay Marlings | Jake | Max | Jason Voorhees | The Fallen | Decepticons (Soundwave, Sideways, Grindor, Ravage, Alice, & Scalpel) | Constructicons/Devastator (Demolishor, Rampage, Long Haul, Mixmaster, Scrapper, & Scavenger) | Theodore Galloway | Cobra Commander | Destro | Storm Shadow | Baroness | Zartan | General Zhao | Fire Nation (Fire Lord Ozai, Zuko & Azula) | Therman Murch | Darla | Sentinel Prime | Dylan Gould | Laserbeak | Shockwave | Driller | Igor | Watch-Out | Crankcase | Crowbar | Kurt Hendricks | Marius Wistrom | Sabine Moreau | Brij Nath | Bogdan Anasenko | Firefly | Jordan Belfort | Donnie Azoff | Gordon Gekko | Zombies (World War Z) | Harold Attinger | Lockdown | Cemetery Wind (James Savoy, Steeljaw, & Shadow Raiders) | Joshua Joyce | Kinetic Solutions Incorporated | Stinger | The Creators | Noah | Tubal-Cain | Shredder | Foot Clan (Eric Sacks & Karai) | The Syndicate (Solomon Lane, Janik Vinter, Kagan, Saif, Richter, & Atlee) | Howard Stambler | Krang | Baxter Stockman | Bebop and Rocksteady | Reece Tenneson | Burke | Quintessa | Infernocons | Nitro Zeus | Mohawk | Berserker | Onslaught | Dreadbot | Commander Santos | Transformers Reaction Force | Unicron | Death Angels | August Walker | White Widow | Zola Mitsopolis | Nils Debruuk | Shatter | Dropkick | Blitzwing | Agent Jack Burns | Dr. Powell | Alejandro Gutierrez | Swiper | Powell | Viper | Christina X | Dr. Robotnik | Agent Stone | Echidna Tribe (Pachacamac)

See Also
Avatar Villains | Avengers Villains | Beavis and Butt-Head Villains | Beverly Hills Cop Villains | Captain America Villains | Clone High Villains | Danny Phantom Villains | DreamWorks Villains | G.I Joe Villains | Henry Danger Villains | Indiana Jones Villains | Invader Zim Villains | Iron Man Villains | Jimmy Neurton Villains | Kung Fu Panda Villains | Lemony Snicket Villains | Madagascar Villains | Marvel Cinematic Universe Villains | Mission Impossible Villains | Nickelodeon Villains | Nickelodeon Movies Villains | Rugrats Villains | Shrek Villains | Sonic Villains | South Park Villains | SpongeBob Squarepants Villains | Star Trek Villains | The Fairly OddParents Villains | The Godfather Villains | Thor Villains | TMNT Villains | Transformers Villains | Transformers Cinematic Universe Villains | XXX Villains