Martin Scorcese’s new movie, The Irishman, released on Netflix this month, tells a fictionalized account of the murder of union boss Jimmy Hoffa. The film introduces us to some real-life characters, one of whom was Anthony Provenzano, otherwise known as “Tony Pro.”
Warning: spoilers below.
Provenzano, born 1917 on the Lower East Side, was a leading figure in the Teamsters Union (Local 560) in Union City, New Jersey, but he was also a Mafia captain. He was part of the Genovese crime family, one of the five families that made up the mafia in the New York area.
Provenzano was siphoning funds from the Teamsters Local 560 for his personal use, which was something he was imprisoned for. In prison, he initially became close with Hoffa (who was serving time for a similar offense relating to embezzlement); however, after Hoffa supposedly insulted the gangster, they became enemies.
Whereas most Investigators, reporters, and even FBI agents contradict the movie by stating Frank Sheeran couldn’t have murdered Hoffa, many believe Provenzano could well have been involved. As rivals to the Teamsters leadership, Provenzano had an excellent motive to get rid of the Union official. Hoffa was allegedly on his way to meet Provenzano in Detroit when he disappeared.
Ten weeks after Hoffa’s disappearance, Provenzano was photographed playing golf with former President Richard Nixon. However, the government eventually curtailed the financial activities of Local 560, which, by extension, constrained the illegal activities of Tony Pro.
In 1978 he was arrested and imprisoned for the murder of Anthony Castellito in 1961. Tony Pro died in prison of a heart attack in 1988 at the age of 71; he was serving a life sentence.
In the movie, the role of Tony Pro is played by Steven Graham, star of This Is England and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The film focuses on the relationship between Tony and Hoffa, played by Al Pacino, which it portrays as a bitter rivalry. It also features an altercation between the pair when they are incarcerated together.
The Irishman is available now on Netflix.