Just caught the end of "Casino" and forgot about the roots of this movie to our City - I do have a friend who went to high school with Spilotro's kids and he filled me in on some pretty funny real life details of their growing up together
For a good little read
The scenes where Nicky stabs a man in the neck with a pen for insulting Sam and where Nicky gets drunk in the casino and hits Billy Sherbert in the face with a telephone are entirely fictional. On an interesting note, Nicky says to Sherbert, "What are you staring at, you bald-headed Jew prick?": this is one of Don Rickles' (Sherbert) trademark insults, although in this case, Joe Pesci (Nicky) says it to him rather than Rickles saying it to somebody else.
The majority of the actual events took place in Kansas City, Missouri, even more so than Las Vegas. In the 1970s, the Kansas City mob was involved in a gangland war over control of the River Quay entertainment district, in which three buildings were bombed and several gangsters were killed. Police investigations into the mob took hold after Kansas City Boss Nick Civella was recorded discussing gambling bets on Super Bowl IV (where the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings). The gang war and investigation would lead to the end of mob control of the Stardust Casino, which was the basis for the film (although the Kansas City connections are minimized in the movie).
The character of Frank Marino (played by Frank Vincent and based on Frank Cullotta) participates in the killing of the Santoro brothers. In reality, Frank Cullotta was not present and played no part in the beating of the Spilotro brothers (on whom the Santoro brothers were based), and only betrayed them by testifying against them about the M & M murders (as the 1962 murders of James Miraglia and Billy McCarthy in Chicago were called) when Anthony Spilotro ordered him killed over the phone, although Cullotta's testimony was not enough to convict Spilotro. Cullotta also has a cameo as Curly, one of Gaggi's hitmen near the end of the film.
The character of John Nance, based on George Vandermark, is murdered in the film with two gunshots to the stomach and one to the head and left in open view. The real George Vandermark was murdered along with his drug addict son, Jeffrey, but his body was never found. Furthermore, Bill Allison (Nance's actor), is a former casino owner and served as a technical advisor for the film, along with Frank Cullotta (who plays Curly, Nance's killer).
In the film Artie Piscano, based on Kansas City Underboss Carl "Tuffy" DeLuna, dies of a heart attack during an FBI raid on his home. In reality, DeLuna was arrested, tried and sentenced to 30 years. He did in fact keep extensive cryptic notes hidden in his basement which, together with wiretaps, connected all the dots the FBI needed. He was released from prison in 1998 and died in Kansas City in 2008, the penultimate surviving defendant. The last defendant was Rosenthal himself, who died of a heart attack in October 2008.
The Tangiers Casino, based on the Stardust Resort & Casino, is shown to be demolished at the end of the movie, whereas in real life, the Stardust Casino was not demolished until March 2007. On an interesting note, bars from the Hoagy Carmichael song Stardust can be heard in the soundtrack.
In the movie, Robert De Niro's character, Sam "Ace" Rothstein, juggles on television. However, Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, the real-life counterpart of Ace, says on his official website that he never did such a thing.
The Spilotro Brothers were said to be brutally beaten with aluminum bats until they were unconscious in a basement in Bensenville, Illinois, and buried in a cornfield in Indiana according to testimony of Nick Calabrese in the Chicago Family Secrets Mob Trial.
The place in the film where the bosses of the Chicago mob met to pick up and distribute their Las Vegas money was in a boarded up, out-of-business ARCO gas station on the southeast corner of Harlem Ave. and Division St. in Oak Park, IL.
The "head in the vise" scene happens while Nicky is helping Sam in Vegas. In reality, the incident took place about 10 years before the setting of the film, and was the real reason why Spilotro became a 'made' man.
And the real life "Ace" dies at 79 last year