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Why John Gotti loved this actor from ‘The Godfather’

It was a movie John Gotti couldn’t refuse to watch. The infamous boss who ran the Gambino crime family in the late 20th century was a profound fan of “The Godfather” and expressed his generosity to the cast, actor John Martino, 84, who portrayed Paulie Gatto in the film, told The Post. “He loved ‘The Godfather,’ ” Martino, known for his death in the “leave the gun, take the cannolis” scene, recalled how he became close to Gotti years after the 1972 release of the award-winning film. “He mentioned to somebody in my family, and they said to me, ‘Johnny, [Gotti] wants to meet you so bad,’ ” Martino, a nephew of early 20th-century mob icon Charles “Lucky” Luciano, said. Happy to oblige, Martino met up with Gotti at a club in Manhattan in the 1980s, he said. “When I saw him for the first time he had just become the boss . . . I walked in, Gotti was sitting in the corner table with a few men around the table and a bunch of other guys in the room and everybody was greeting me. “Then John got up, he buttoned his jacket, he comes right to me, grabs my two hands, kissed me on the lips,” Martino said. “And he said, ‘Johnny, I’m so glad you came, I wanted to meet you so bad. If there’s anything I could ever do for you.’ “ He immediately extended the same offer back to Gotti, who then demonstrated just how deep his appreciation and fandom of the “The Godfather” was. “He said, ‘Do me a favor: come over to the table and shake hands with the fellas, OK?’ These were all the skippers in the family. They all stood up for me, I shook hands with every one and I became very close to them at that time.” The iconic film will celebrate its 50th anniversary on March 24. Ahead of it, “The Godfather” will have a theatrical re-release beginning Friday, Feb. 25. Martino said he developed a close, lasting relationship with Gotti and the “fellas” that lasted for years. “They would invite me to come to meetings on Wednesdays and see everyone.”

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