The original "Don," Vito was born in Corleone Sicily with the name Vito Andolini. When a Sicilian mobster murdered Vito's family in the beginning of the 1900's, Vito fled to the United States. When he arrived his name was changed to Vito Corleone based on the city of his birth. Vito lived in New York City for many years where he married his wife Carmella, and had his four children, Santino (Sonny), Fredo, Michael and Constanzia (Connie). Vito became "the godfather" when he murdered a man who was intimidating and stealing from Vito's neighbors. (Don Fanucci) Vito passes his role of head of the family to his son Michael before his death.
Carmella is a minor character that simply is Vito's wife, and his children's mother. Although she has a minor role, her presence is important in the story because of the amount of respect and love that the family has for her.
Michael is the third son of Vito Corleone, and he takes over the role of godfather when his father retires. Originally Michael is not involved in the family business, although he is aware of what the business is. Before Michael became Don, he held almost opposite ideals than did his family. For example, he was patriotic and respected his country and it's laws and ideals. Michael fought in World War Two, and was even photographed and described in Life magazine as a war hero. When he left the army he enrolled in Dartmouth, possibly with the intent of becoming a lawyer. The turning point in Michael's life came about after Vito's assassination was attempted. He saw the corruption that is part of the government, police and country and decided that he loved his family more than he loved his country. Michael's first involvement in the family business was to murder the man who ordered his father's murder, and a police captain who disrespected him. After this occurred Michael fled to Sicily where he met his first wife Appolonia. They were married fairly quickly, and Appolonia was accidentally murdered before they had children or moved back to the United States. After he death, Michael returned to New York and took over the role of Don from his father who was too weak and exhausted to continue. Michael remarries and has two children, Anthony and Mary, before he divorces his second wife Kay. The children live with their mother and do not have a strong relationship with their father until they are older. Michaels relationship with them changes when he tries to legitimize his business and seek redemption from the church. He is able to win his children's affection, and even some of Kay's before his death.
Santino (Sonny) Corleone is Vito and Carmella's first-born child. He is described as stubborn and with a violent and quickly volatile temper. Sonny was also promiscuous and although married with children, he often had affairs with other women. He had children with other women who were considered illegitimate by the family, however one of his children, Vincent, was able to become part of the family and eventually takes over the role of Don from Michael. It is assumed that he would take over the role of Don from his father because he was always involved in the family business and affairs. Sonny never got to take over the business from his father because associates of Connie's husband Carlo murdered him. Carlo and Sonny did not have a good relationship because Carlo often physically and emotionally abused Connie. After the first instance of abuse that Sonny discovers, he beats up Carlo and threatens to kill him if he hurts her again. The second instance of abuse that Sonny discovers causes him to leave his home in search for Carlo. Carlo had people follow Sonny and trap and viciously murder him. After Sonny's death Vito attempts to reconcile differences that him and the other prominent mafia families of New York have with each other. Sonny's death actually leads them to work together, and stop much of the violence between them, which is Vito's wish. Once Vito dies however, Michael disregards this policy and has Sonny's murderers killed.
Fredo is Vito and Carmella's second child. When he was first born he contacted pneumonia and is described as weak. This weakness is seen in his character when he is older. Although he is involved in the family business he never becomes a leader. He is always being helped by his family, and told what to do. Eventually he betrays Michael and unintentionally becomes involved in Michaels attempted assassination. Michael discovers this and never forgives Fredo. He tells him that he does not consider him to be a brother or a friend, and never wants to see him again. Connie attempts to reconcile the brothers, however Michael stubbornly refuses until his mother's death. Once Carmella passes away, Michael embraces Fredo and seemingly forgives him. Although Michael and Fredo form a relationship again, Michael has Fredo murdered for his betrayal.
Constanzia (Connie) Corleone is the youngest child of Vito and Carmella. Connie does not play a prominent role in the family business until Michael takes over and is older. Connie marries and has children, but her relationship with her husband Carlo is not stable. He abuses her and cheats on her. She continuously runs to Sonny to support her after her husband's abuse. Although her husband often upsets her she does not want Sonny to hurt or murder him. When Michael has Carlo murdered for aiding in Sonny's death, Connie leaves her family. She returns home only to ask for money or support for Michael. Michael attempts to persuade Connie to return home and live with her children and family, however Connie wants to remarry and forget her family. Eventually Connie returns home, and forms a strong relationship with Michael. She advises him, and helps to hold their family together. Although she does not agree with everything that Michael does and did do, she has a deep respect for him and his decisions. She also helps build Michael and Vincent's relationship, which leads to Vinny's eventual take over of the role of godfather.
Thomas Hagen is Vito's adopted child. Sonny found him living on the street, and being the same age, invited him home with him. Vito adopted Tom after this, and he became part of their family. Tom was a prominent person involved in the family business. Although he was not the "muscle" of the family he was involved because of his law background. He handled all of the legal issues for the Corleone's, and was an advisor to Vito and Michael. He even took over temporarily after Michael's assassination was attempted. Tom married and has children, although neither his wife nor his children are central characters, their presence is known.
Kay is Michael's second wife, and the mother of his children. She dates Michael before he becomes part of the family. Once he flees for Sicily she does not see him for a few years until after he has returned and taken over the role of Don. Michael finds Kay after he returns and asks her to marry her and have his children. Kay is not informed about the family business until later in their marriage, because Michael tries to keep it from her and protect her. Finally he promises to legitimize the business, however he fails and Kay loses her faith in him. Kay eventually does not believe Michael's lies about his business and starts to fear him and his actions. She leaves Michael and they do not have a relationship except involving their children. Michael and Kay finally (somewhat) reconcile when Michael does actually attempt to make his business legal. Once his relationship begins to change with his children, Michael and Kay's relationship starts to change as well. Although Kay never truly forgives Michael, they understand each other more before Michael's death.
Vincent (Vinny) Mancini is Sonny's illegitimate son. He does not become part of the family until Michael takes him under his guidance. Vinny is also described as having a bad temper and being promiscuous, traits that Michael believes he inherited from his father. Connie helps Vinny and Michael form a relationship, which leads to him taking over the role of Don. Vinny also forms a relationship with Michael's daughter Mary, which Michael does not like. Vinny and Mary become both physically and emotionally close until Michael orders that Vinny end things with Mary. Vinny cannot become godfather unless he leaves Mary. Vinny ends his relationship with Mary before he becomes Don, and before her tragic death.
Hyman Roth is a business associate and friend of Michaels whose intentions are not clear. He gives his interests in Havana, Cuba to Michael after his retirement, and he often advises Michael. Originally a friend of Vito's, Roth's friendship with Michael continues until Michael becomes skeptical about Roth's motives. Michael learns that Roth was involved in his attempted murder, although Roth denies it and accuses another of Michael's friends and associate. Eventually Michael has Roth murdered for his betrayal and lack of loyalty and honesty.
Don Fanucci attempts to pressure Vito into giving him some of his earnings when Vito first marries Carmella and they are living together in the city. This is the first man who Vito murders, and this murder leads to his rising career as godfather.
Don Ciccio is the man who has Vito's family murdered in Sicily. This is Vito's first encounter with death, murder and the loss of family. Vito eventually returns to Sicily and kills Don Ciccio.
Fontane - click here for more information - (1915?-1997?)
Johnny Fontane is one of Vito's godson's. Johnny has a career as a popular singer and entertainer. Vito helped Johnny's career in at least two situations. Fontane often comes to Vito for support and help, and is seen at family functions and gatherings always singing and entertaining. His relationship with Vito is important because it highlights the special relationship that Vito has not only with his own children, but with his godchildren as well.