Asthma Prevented Martin Scorsese From Being a Criminal

Martin Scorsese

Raised in Little Italy which was ruled by the mob, the filmmaker spent his days watching movies on television instead of going on the streets because he had asthma.

A childhood illness saved Martin Scorsese from a life of violent crime in his native New York, according to his longtime cinematographer. The director was raised in Little Italy in the 1940s and 50s, when the Manhattan neighborhood was ruled by the mob.

And he admitted to Michael Ballhaus, his director of photography on movies "Goodfellas", "The Departed" and "Gangs of New York", that he would have turned to crime had a bout of asthma not forced him to stay indoors. Instead, Scorsese spent hours watching television and cultivating his love of film.

Ballhaus tells GQ magazine, "(Scorsese's) best friend was the son of the Mafia boss there. When he was a kid, he had asthma, so he couldn't go on the streets. He went home and watched movies on television, hours and hours. He told me once that if he were a big guy like his friend, 'I probably would have been one of them'."


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