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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

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Bonfiglio, Frank (1891–1940)

Who has forgotten the name of Frank Bonfiglio? "Bon," one-time best-known name in the Australian underworld, barring Squizzy Taylor, Angus Murray and Colin Campbell Ross.

Remember when Bonfiglio's name was splashed all over the newspapers when he turned King's evidence against a nurse who was up on a murder charge? Bonfiglio has just died in Adelaide.

Fifteen years ago shots from Melbourne's underworld rang across Australia. Squizzy Taylor and his gunmen were running riot. Angus Murray was hanged; Colin Ross was hanged; a nurse was accused of murder.

Every man in the police force knew Bonfiglio. They knew, too, that he knew every secret of the underworld. They knew—he told them himself—that he'd carried out the shot-up bodies of victims of the underworld and buried them in quicklime.

But when the police grilled the Italian, all he would say was "I no squeak." Yet there was a time he did squeak, and it was against the nurse. She was acquitted of murder, and Bonfiglio was given the tip to get out of Melbourne while he had time.

In Adelaide he fell in love with a beautiful young girl; but as she was under age there was a battle royal before her parents would consent to her marriage. When finally they did, Bonfiglio said: "I'm leaving the underworld forever. I'm going to start life fresh.''

But it wasn't easy for a man with Frank Bonfiglio's reputation. He lingered around the markets, tried to get a job when they were building Adelaide's new parliament house. "Bonfig" was an expert stonemason; but his police record was too long.

He had been found guilty of threatening a man's life, of assault, of sly grogging, and of being in the thick of everything that happened in Melbourne's underworld.

Bonfiglio came to this country with the Gonsalez Opera Company. He had a splendid baritone voice; but when the company disbanded, he abandoned the theatre for the underworld. In fact, he was following "Squizzy" Taylor's footsteps as leader of gangland when he was tipped off to get out quick.

His greatest asset was that he knew how to keep his mouth closed.

What stories the ex-criminal could have told had that tongue of his wagged! How many of Melbourne's unsolved crimes went to the grave with him! Bonfiglio always claimed he had never murdered, though he admitted being an accomplice on occasions, knowing all about the jobs that gangland pulled.

They buried him in the West Terrace cemetery—the remains of a bad man who had tried to make good. But his name will live in the records.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Bonfiglio, Frank (1891–1940)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/bonfiglio-frank-16118/text28060, accessed 2 December 2021.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2021

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Bonfiglio, Frapceaco
  • Goodson, Frank
Birth

1891
Genoa, Italy

Death

31 December 1940
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage
Occupation