Puzo later revealed the model for the character of Don Vito Corleone. It was this person's voice, Puzo declared, that he heard whenever the Godfather spoke: "My mother was a wonderful, handsome woman," Puzo explained, "but a fairly ruthless person."
[On Christmas Eve, 1971, Puzo had a severe gall bladder attack. "I had to take a cab to the hospital, got out, and fell into the gutter," Puzo told Time magazine. "There I was, lying there, thinking, 'Here I am a published writer, and I am dying like a dog.' That's when I decided I would be rich and famous."]