Mario Puzo was born in New York and, following military service in World War II, attended New York's New School for Social Research and Columbia University. His bestselling novel The Godfather, (1969) was preceded by two critically acclaimed novels, The Dark Arena (1955) and The Fortunate Pilgrim (1965). In 1978, he published Fools Die, followed by The Sicilian (1984), The Fourth K (1990), and the second installment in his Mafia trilogy, The Last Don (1996), which became an international bestseller and the highest-rated TV miniseries of 1997.
Mario Puzo also wrote many screenplays, including those for Earthquake, Superman, and all three Godfather movies, for which he received two Academy Awards. He died in July 1999 at his home on Long Island, New York, at the age of seventy-eight.