WildBlue Press author and former gangster, Frank Cullota died on August 20, 2020. Although he had a fearsome reputation from his days as a hitman for Mob boss Tony Spilotro, many others knew a different side–gentle, warm, engaging.
Among them was his frequent co-author and friend Denny Griffin with whom he wrote the bestselling book, “THE RISE AND FALL OF A ‘CASINO’ MOBSTER: The Tony Spilotro Story Through A Hitman’s Eyes.” They were collaborating on, of all things, a cookbook, “FRANK CULLOTTA’S GREATEST (KITCHEN) HITS,” when he passed.
We asked Denny to write a brief note on how he met Frank, and include one of his favorite anecdotes from their relationship. Here’s what he wrote:
“I first met Frank Cullotta in 2004 while researching for my book THE BATTLE FOR LOS VEGAS. The next year Frank and I co-authored his biography titled CULLOTTA. Two more books about his years working for Tony Spilotro in Las Vegas followed.
Over time my relationship with Frank evolved from business to a close friendship. We talked often in person or by phone. Frank had the ability to have me laughing in a matter of minutes, regardless of how bad a day I might be having.
Early on, my wife knew Frank only by his reputation as a criminal. Based on that she didn’t particularly like him. When he called on the phone, she was very curt.
There came a time Frank and I needed to meet in person to discuss his manuscript. He said he’d come to Vegas and I suggested that in the interest of privacy we meet at my house. When I hung up the phone I said to my wife, “Guess who’s coming to dinner tomorrow.” When I said it was Frank, she said, “Not in my house he’s not.” I eventually convinced her that it was imperative Frank and I get together. But when Frank showed up at one door, she and our dog went out the other, and they didn’t come back until Frank was gone.
Her icy attitude toward Frank when he called continued. But slowly I noticed a change.
When she answered the phone, she began to ask him how he was doing or how the weather was. It wasn’t long before he won her over completely. She’d answer the phone and they’d talk for five or ten minutes before she even told me to get on the line.
I think the final straw in the thaw was when Frank, my wife and I were together at an event and he said to me, “You’re a lucky man to have her. Make sure you always treat her good.” That was the way Frank was. He had the wit and personality to win people over and my wife came to adore him. When we heard about Frank’s passing, she cried along with me. He’ll always live in our hearts and memories.
Our latest joint project was Frank Cullotta’s Greatest (Kitchen) Hits. I never thought I’d be involved in putting together a cookbook, but here I am.
When Frank’s health began to deteriorate, and the book had yet to be published, he made me promise I’d continue forward even if he wasn’t able to see it through to completion. I’ve kept my word and thanks to WildBlue Press, the book will now be a reality. I hope you enjoy the recipes and don’t get upset with Frank and me if you put on a pound or two.”