Philadelphia Mob Boss's Memoir Slated for Big Screen

A film based on the pending memoir of onetime Philadelphia Cosa Nostra boss Ralph Natale is due to hit your local multiplex, an exclusive Deadline report noted. (The story also noted that Leonardo DiCaprio is going to star in an untitled mob film for Showtime; we are working on getting further details.)

Natale is working with New York Daily News reporter Larry McShane (a 35-year newspaperman who also wrote Chin, a Vincent Gigante biography) and Dan Pearson, who produced I Married a Mobster.

Many believe Ralph Natale, who is writing his memoir, was a front boss for Joey Merlino

The Last Don Standing (the book is slated to debut on March 31; no date for the film's release has been provided) recounts the story of Natale's life, focusing on his rise and fall in the Philadelphia Costra Nostra. He's earned the sobering sobriquet of being the first Mafia boss to flip and testify as a federal witness.

The book "is being developed as a feature film and a starring vehicle for Frank Grillo" (who starred in the two Purge sequels), Deadline noted, adding that the story consists of "Natale’s frank accounts of the murder of Bugsy Siegel, Jimmy Hoffa’s final days, the mob’s takeover of Atlantic City and the boxing matches between Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali (and in detail) of how the fights were fixed for Liston to purposely take a dive."
Frank Grillo all cleaned up. Check him out
in The Purge: Anarchy -- he'd make a great wiseguy.

Natale, who rose through the mob's ranks as the son of a numbers runner, joined the upper echelon of one of the city's most powerful and storied bosses, Angelo "The Gentle Don" Bruno. (We recently interviewed two law enforcement officials who worked Philadelphia organized crime -- and have been writing that story seemingly forever. shout out to A WISER GUY author Louis DiVita, who hooked us up.)

Natale was convicted of drug smuggling in the late 1970s and was off the street for the next 16 years.

Upon his release, he and Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino took control of the Philadelphia Mafia. Natale was boss from 1995 through to 1999, when he was arrested on a parole violation. (Merlino then cut Natale loose and took control of the family).
Merlino is out on bail for healthcare fraud and other charges.
When Ralph was indicted for drug charges, he chose to flip, becoming the first American Cosa Nostra boss to become a federal witness.

Many believe (Ralph isn't one of them) that Merlino used him mainly for cover. To avoid the heat of law enforcement, Merlino chose to be underboss, allowing Natale to hold the official boss title. If there is any truth to that, Natale must have felt some satisfaction when he took the stand in 2001 and testified against Merlino in a racketeering trial.

Joey went away, and Ralph cut a deal, under which he was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2005 but was released into witness protection in 2011.

"Natale gave unfettered access to McShane and Dan Pearson (whose personal story is worth a movie unto itself)," Deadline noted.

Grillo has appeared in Captain America: Civil War, The Purge (two sequels) and the MMA series

He also has a star turn in Netflix’s Wheelman. 

As Variety described it:

Grillo plays a getaway driver thrust into a high stakes race for survival after a bank robbery goes terribly wrong. With a car full of money and his family on the line, the clock is ticking to figure out who double-crossed him, and the only person he can trust is his 14-year-old daughter.