In The Godfather: Part II, Willie Cicci, played by Joe Spinelli, testifies that Michael Corleone was involved in organised crime and the head of the Corleone family: "Oh yeah, a buffer. The family had a lot of buffers!"

He isn't seen again in the film. What happened to Cicci? Would he have gone into witness protection, jail or have been murdered?

  • I always thought Willie Cicci was based on Joe Barboza. He was a hit man who testified, and later was murdered in San Francisco. If you see a pic of Joe the Baron Barboza's face, he looks just like actor Joe Spinelli.
    – Jimmdawise
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 22:28

3 Answers 3


This is a fascinating question because Willie Cicci's character was reportedly based on the real-life mobster Joe Valachi, the first Mafia member to publicly acknowledge the Mafia's existence.

In 1963, Valachi testified to the congressional committee about how the mafia actually worked, providing intimate details of its history, operations and aiding in the solution of several unsolved murders.

After speaking to the committee, he was reportedly guarded by up to 200 US Marshals due to a rumored $100,000 bounty on his head. He spent the rest of his life in protective custody in prison and died, with the bounty uncollected.

It was partly due to his testimony and protection that the US actually created the Witness Protection Program (in 1970).

Therefore, it seems entirely plausible that Cicci's character in the films was based on Valachi and that he would have entered custodial protection scheme as Valachi did.

What really happens to him in the film is a mystery. We are never told. Given Michael has Fredo murdered, it seems highly unlikely he would not make an attempt on Cicci's life. Whether that attempt would be successful or not is unknown.

On a side-note, there are many sites online that claim Cicci was supposed to return in The Godfather III, but his character was cut after the actor portraying him, Joe Spinell, passed away. I can't find any official confirmation that this was the case though.


I read in an interview with Francis Ford Coppola that Willi Cicci was to appear in The Godfather Part 3 in the role that in the end went to the character Joey Zasa, but the actor died just prior to filming, which I find strange seeing as Cicci testified against the family in GF part 2.

  • 6
    Interesting fact. I'd upvote it if you had a source or link to the interview...
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 22:46

After the Mafia Hearings, Cicci was sentenced to prison for admitting crimes he committed in the past. Whether he died in prison or was killed for breaking the omertà is unclear.

  • 7
    How do you know this? It is not shown in the film. If you are stating this based on a novel, please link or state the source of the information.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 22:45

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