Who would play Frank Rizzo in a movie?

    A play is being developed based on the biography of legendary/notorious Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo. Assuming a successful run — and an eventual adaptation to film, of course! — who should play the big guy?

    Last week we took a look at neighbors’ experiences of revitalization of communities surrounding East Passyunk Avenue. South Philly has something more to be excited about now that a play about legendary mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo is in the works. 

    The work is still in the very early stages of development, but assuming a successful run — and an eventual adaptation to film, of course! — who should play the big guy in the movie?

    (We mean “big” literally. As mayor, he wore a size 54 suit.)

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    Play casting director in the comments below.

    Names floated in the Inquirer for an on-stage performance include Danny Aiello, Dennis Farina, Dennis Franz, James Gandolfini and Paul Sorvino.

    Philadelphia’s Theatre Exile made a deal last week to adapt Sal Paolantonio’s best-selling biography “Rizzo: The Last Big Man in Big City America,” first published 20 years ago.

    The company is looking first to playwright Bruce Graham, known for the award-winning “Any Given Monday.”

    Elected in 1971, the city’s first Italian mayor, Rizzo, who died in 1991, is beloved among much of South Philly’s Italian community.

    The tough-talking mayor is also remembered for a contentious relationship with the African American community, though he is credited with taking steps to end segregation within the city’s police department. His second term as mayor saw the first actions taken against the black liberation organization MOVE.

    Rizzo remains a divisive figure in Philadelphia political lore. A mural of the man in the Italian Market (Ninth and Melrose) was vandalized last summer

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal