Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mafia and Movie stars

Posted by John L. Smith review journal.com Sunday, Oct. 04, 2009 at 05:00 PM.
John L Smith writes
Tough-guy actor Paul Burke died Sept. 13 at age 83. He was known for a long career in movies and television. His best-known roles came on television in the early 1960s as the star of “Naked City” and “12 0’Clock High.” But Burke kept busy throughout his life, taking smaller parts late in his career after enjoying big-screen star status for a time.
Burke was the son of a New Orleans boxer, Marty Burke, who was best known for having lost to Gene Tunney. The elder Burke was a boxer at a time mob guys were all over the fight game.
So perhaps it’s little surprise that my friend, former mobster Anthony Fiato, would have run into Burke in Boston and Hollywood amid some shadowy company.
Suffice to say that Burke sometimes played cops on television, but he was often seen hanging out with criminals.
Now a relocated witness, Fiato recalled the first time he saw Burke off screen. It was back in the late 1960s in Boston’s North End neighborhood at mob soldier Paulie Intiso’s restaurant. Burke was in the middle of filming “The Thomas Crown Affair” and was chummy with Intiso and members of his crew.
“Jerry Angiulo took Paul to dinner on Hanover Street,” Fiato recalls. “They ate at Paulie Intiso’s restaurant, Giro’s, a lot. He ate dinner many times with Jerry Angiulo.”
Fast forward seven years, and Burke walked in to the Villa Capri for a sitdown with his friend, Mike Rizzitello, who was working with Fiato at the time.
“It was like old home week,” Fiato says. “Burke was talking about Boston, about Joey Gallo, who he knew very well. He lit up like a Christmas tree when he talked about Joey Gallo. He really liked Joey a lot. And we talked boxing because Paul’s father was a fighter. Mike boxed some, too. Mike pinched him on the cheek, hugged and kissed him like a friend, and Burke ate that stuff up.
“Paul was successful, and Mike was hurting at the time. He’d just gotten out of the can and was facing what for him were big tax problems. He had nothing and was afraid to move. At the Villa, Mike and Lefty Castiglione talked to Burke about his movie roles. The IRS was on Mike’s ass, and he was looking to pick up some money to pay the tax man. Burke gave him $5,000 to help pay his tax bill, which he then gave to me. We later walked into the IRS office and I handed the clerk the $5,000 because Mike, of course, couldn’t justify having any income.
“Paul really thought a lot of those guys. He would talk about going to dinner on President Street in Brooklyn with Joey Gallo. He really admired Joey and was torn up when he was murdered. At the Villa he talked about what a warrior Joey was, a man’s man, all that macho stuff. That was Paul Burke.”