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Casino (1995)
Starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone, James Woods
based on the book "Casino" by Nicholas Pileggi
Reel Face: Real Face:
Robert DeNiro Casino movie Robert De Niro

August 17, 1943
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Frank Rosenthal Lefty Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal
June 12, 1929
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Death: October 13, 2008, Miami Beach (heart attack)
Joe Pesci Joe Pesci

February 9, 1943
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, USA
Anthony Spilotro Tony The Ant Anthony 'The Ant' Spilotro
May 19, 1938
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Death: June 14, 1986, Bensenville, Illinois (beaten to death)
Sharon Stone Casino Sharon Stone

March 10, 1958
Birthplace: Meadville, Pennsylvania, USA
Geri Rosenthal Geraldine McGee Geraldine McGee Rosenthal
May 16, 1936
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
Death: November 9, 1982, Los Angeles (drug overdose)

Rubber mallets are less likely to leave a mark. -Frank Rosenthal (Avery Cardoza's Player Magazine, 2006)

Questioning the Story:

Did Sam Rothstein manage any other casinos besides Tangiers?
Stardust Casino 1973 Las Vegas
Rosenthal ran The Stardust Casino,
shown here during the 1970's.
Unlike the portrayal in the movie Casino where Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro) runs only one casino, the Tangiers, in real life Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal ran four casinos simultaneously, including the Stardust, Hacienda, Fremont and Marina for the Chicago mafia. -Las Vegas Sun

Did teamsters really fund the Tangiers?
Yes. After being pressured by the mob, the Teamsters fund loaned the Argent Corporation, solely owned by Allen Glick, the money to buy the Stardust and other casinos. Mr. Glick was portrayed in the movie Casino by character Philip Green (Kevin Pollak). -Online Nevada Encyclopedia

Did security really crush the hands of a cheater?
According to Frank Rosenthal himself, yes, this did occur but not under the circumstances portrayed in the movie Casino. The two men who were electronically signaling each other were part of a larger group that had been scamming all the casinos for an extended period of time. The actions taken were meant as a message to the group to deter any of the others from coming back to do the same. -Miami Herald

Did Sam and Ginger have a daughter like in the movie?
The Casino movie true story reveals that Sam and Ginger Rothstein’s real life counterparts, Frank and Geraldine Rosenthal, had a daughter named Stephanie and a son name Steven. Geraldine also had a daughter from a previous relationship with her high school love, Lenny Marmor (James Woods’ character in the movie). Robin Marmor was born on December 27, 1957, and was eleven years old when her mother met Frank. She was not depicted in the movie.

Were the lion performers Sam hired to work at the Tangiers based on Siegfried and Roy?
Rosenthal Siegfried Roy Stardust
Rosenthal is shown here dining
with tiger performer Roy Horn
of Siegfried and Roy.
Indeed they were. When Siegfried and Roy’s contract was about to expire with a competing casino, Mr. Rosenthal (Sam) hired them to perform at the Stardust. Part of the agreement was a significantly higher salary, custom dressing room and space for their animals. “Lido de Paris Starring Siegfried and Roy” was born and so was a friendship that lasted a lifetime.

Did Nicky really get banned from every casino in Vegas?
Yes. In December 1979, Tony Spilotro, the real life Nicky Santoro, was blacklisted by the Nevada Gaming Commission, preventing him from entering any casino.

Did the real Nicky Santoro have a son?
Yes. In 1966, Tony and Nancy Spilotro (the real Nicky and Jennifer Santoro) adopted their only son, Vincent. -The Battle for Las Vegas – The Law vs. The Mob

Did Nicky really recruit his brother and other guys from back home to commit heists?
Yes. The pack was referred to as “The Hole in the Wall Gang” because they cut holes in walls and ceilings to enter their target locations. Included in this group were his brother, Michael Spilotro, Herbert “Fat Herbie” Blitzstein, Wayne Metecki, Samuel Cusumano, Joseph Cusumano, Ernesto "Ernie" Davino, "Crazy Larry" Neumann, Salvatore "Sonny" Romano, Leonardo "Leo" Guardino, Joseph Blasko and their leader, Frank Cullotta. Frank Cullotta is portrayed in the movie Casino by actor Frank Vincent, as Nicky Santoro's sidekick Frankie Marino.

Did they really put a rival’s head in a vise after he shot up a bar?
Frank Vincent Frank Cullotta Witness Mob
Actor Frank Vincent (left) portrays hitman
Frank Cullotta (right) in Casino.
Yes. Anthony Spilotro, the basis for Joe Pesci's Nicky Santoro character, caught one of the two men who killed the Scalvo brothers without permission. Frank Cullotta testified in the Operation Family Secrets Trial that Spilotro did torture Billy McCarthy. Spilotro told him that McCarthy was beaten and when he refused to name his accomplice, his head was put in a vise and tightened until his eyeball popped out. At that point, he gave them Jimmy Miraglia’s name and they slit his throat. -Sun Times

Did Nicky Santoro sleep with Sam Rothstein’s wife?
Yes, the real Nicky Santoro, Tony Spilotro, did sleep with Frank Rosenthal’s wife, which ultimately played a part in his demise. Nicholas Calabrese testified in the Operation Family Secrets trial in 2007, that mob hit man John Fecarotta told him that Spilotro was targeted for his affair with Rosenthal’s wife. -Chicago Tribune

Was Phillip Green’s business partner, Anna Scott, murdered in her home?
Yes. The real life Anna Scott, Tamara Rand, was murdered in the kitchen of her San Diego home. She was shot on November 9, 1975 soon after having loan issues with her mob tied business partner, Allen Glick. -San Diego Reader

Nicholas Pileggi Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas
Buy the Book - Now Back in Print!

It's back! Nicholas Pileggi's true-to-life crime story that was the basis for the Martin Scorsese movie Casino returned to print in 2011. Get it in paperback.

Was there really a Gaming Control Board investigation into Sam’s attempt to get a gaming license?
Yes. The real Sam, Frank Rosenthal, did have a hearing with the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Furthermore, he argued with the chairman, the current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and was denied a gaming license. In 1988, he was officially put in the “Black Book” (List of Persons Excluded from Licensed Gaming Establishments in the State of Nevada). -Las Vegas Sun

Did FBI agents run out of gas and land their plane on a fairway?
According to the Casino true story, the FBI agents did land their plane on the fairway at the Las Vegas Country Club where the Rosenthals lived. However, it was due to mechanical problems rather than a lack of fuel. -Skimming the Las Vegas Casinos

Did the real Sam “Ace” Rothstein have his own TV show?
Frank Rosenthal Show Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra (right) appeared as a
guest on his friend's show. The Frank
Rosenthal Show is often credited as
Sinatra's first time on a talk show.
Yes he did. The Frank Rosenthal Show was taped at the Stardust and brought in many big name guests, including Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Wayne Newton, Liberace and O.J. Simpson. For those of you who are curious, he claims to have never juggled on the show.

Was Sam the best handicapper in America?
According to Sports Illustrated, Frank Rosenthal is “one of the greatest living experts on sports gambling”. -Sports Illustrated article "The Biggest Game in Town"

Is Sam responsible for putting sports betting into casinos?
Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, the real Sam, is credited with putting sports betting in Las Vegas casinos. In 1976, he set up the first sports book in the Stardust, which featured six large televisions. -USA Today

Did Sam and Ginger really get divorced?
Frank Geri Geraldine Rosenthal
Frank and his
wife Geri during
happier times.
Yes. According to Frank, the real story is that he filed for the divorce and for full custody of their children. Geri did not contest it. Their divorce was finalized on January 16, 1981.

Did Ginger really try to run off with their daughter and Lester?
According to Frank Rosenthal (the real Sam Rothstein), his wife and her ex-boyfriend, Lenny Marmor, ran off with his daughter, his son and his money. In the movie, Lenny Marmor is the Lester Diamond character portrayed by James Woods.

Did Artie Piscano die of a heart attack when the FBI found mob records in his home?
No. The Casino movie character Artie Piscano was based on Carl “Tuffy” DeLuna and the raid on his home on February 14, 1979. Unlike what is depicted in the movie, Tuffy did not die of a heart attack during the raid. He was sentenced to prison for his participation in skimming Las Vegas casinos and was released in 1998. He died ten years later on July 21, 2008 in Kansas City, Missouri. -The Chicago Syndicate

Did Sam survive a car bomb assassination attempt?
Real Rosenthal Car Explosion in Casino
Rosenthal's 1981 Cadillac El
Dorado after the explosion.
Yes. On October 4, 1982, Frank Rosenthal left the Tony Roma’s restaurant on East Sahara Avenue and got into his Cadillac which then exploded. Amazingly, he survived with minor burns and injuries. A variety of factors have been attributed to his survival, including a metal plate under the driver’s seat, the driver’s side door being open at the time of the explosion and pure luck. -NY Times

Why did Sam’s car have a metal plate under the driver’s seat?
The 1981 Cadillac Eldorado had a balancing problem that was affecting the car’s handling. GM installed the metal plate under the driver’s seat to correct the problem.

Did Ginger end up with low lives and drug dealers in Los Angeles?
Yes. The true story behind Geri Rosenthal (Ginger in the movie) reveals that her interaction with these people ultimately led to her untimely death. On November 9, 1982, at the age of 46, she died in an LA motel from a drug overdose of valium, cocaine and whiskey. She is buried in Mount Sinai Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Were Nicky Santoro and his brother, Dominick, really killed?
Enos Indiana Cornfield Spilotro Burial
Burial site in an Enos, Indiana
cornfield where the Spilotro
brothers were found.
Yes, the real life Spilotro brothers were beaten to death but not in a cornfield as portrayed in the movie. According to Nicholas Calabrese, a former mob hitman that testified in the Operation Family Secrets trial, the brothers were told they were being promoted in the mob. Anthony Spilotro was to become a “capo” and his brother, Michael, was to become a “made member”. They were driven to a mob home in Bensenville, Illinois and were beaten to death in the basement. They were later transported to the cornfield in Enos, Indiana.
-Chicago Tribune

Nicholas Pileggi Casino book
Pileggi's book

reveals the muffin
scene is true.
Is the real Sam still alive?
Mr. Rosenthal died at the age of 79 after suffering a heart attack at his Miami Beach home on October 13, 2008. -NY Times

Did Sam insist on having an equal number of blueberries in each muffin?
According to Nicholas Pileggi, author of the book Casino, Frank Rosenthal was extremely meticulous. He did regulate the number of blueberries per muffin, with each muffin containing at least ten blueberries. -NY Times

Casino: Behind the Movie Interviews & Video
Watch video featuring interviews with Frank Rosenthal, the real Sam Rothstein, portrayed by Robert De Niro in the movie. Also, see footage of Tony Spilotro, the real Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci).

Frank Rosenthal Interview Frank Rosenthal Interview
Watch Frank Rosenthal interviews and historic video featuring mobster Anthony Spilotro, portrayed by Joe Pesci in the movie Casino.

Link-to-Learn More:
Frank Rosenthal Tells Stories of His Life
Frank Rosenthal Answers Questions
Operation Family Secrets Trial Evidence
History of the Stardust Casino in Pictures
Frank Cullotta Interview -
The Wise Guide - A Guide to Historic Mob Sites in Las Vegas

Watch the Casino Movie Trailer:

Casino Movie Trailer - SPLYCED

Casino book by Nicholas Pileggi

by Nicholas Pileggi

Biography of Frank Cullotta

Cullotta: The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster and Government Witness
by Dennis Griffin and Frank Cullotta

Dennis Griffin book The Battle for Las Vegas

The Battle for Las Vegas: The Law vs. The Mob
by Dennis Griffin

Tangiers Casino T-Shirt

Tangiers Casino T-Shirt


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