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 best-selling novel The Godfather 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 (1991), and the second instalment in his Mafia trilogy, The Last Don (1996), which became an international bestseller. Mario Puzo also wrote many screenplays, including Earthquake, Superman, and all three Godfather films, for which he received two Academy Awards. He died in July 1999 at his home in Long Island, New York, at the age of seventy-eight.