Al “Scarface” Capone
Al Capone (born 1899 (Brooklyn)- died 1947 (Florida))
Arguably the most ‘notorious’ of the Mafia gang bosses. Alphonse Gabriel “Al” Capone was born to Italian immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, where he got his start in street gangs. He then joined the Five Points gang and became a bouncer. It was during this time that he reputedly insulted a sister of a Mafioso named Frank Gallucio. Although he apologised and explained it was a misunderstanding Gallucio slashed him three times across the face and earned him the “Scarface” nickname.
Capone moved to Chicago in 1919 and quickly moved up the Mafia hierarchy while working for Johnny Torrio (head of a syndicate and illegally alcohol and also a member of the politically active “Unione Siciliana”). In 1925, at the age of 26, Capone took over from Torrio after he was wounded in one of the many gang wars at that time..
Capone became infamous for his apparent control over the city of Chicago, including its police officers, judges and city officials. It was the time of the Prohibition, and Capone quickly made money in this environment running bootlegging rings. prostitution, and gambling and bootlegging rings. He was flamboyant, intelligent and loved the public attention. He lived in the Lexington Hotel, which the Chicagoans called Capone’s Castle. He was known to be violent as depicted in his role of organising the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929, in which key rival gangsters were murdered. This act of violence ultimately backfired on Capone leading to action from influential citizens to demand action from central government and the FBI.
In 1931, Federal Treasury agent Eliot Ness arrested him for tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison. He was sent to Atlanta State Penitentary but found to be suffering from with syphilis and gonorrhea as well as cocaine withdrawal and later transferred to Alcatraz and finally to Federal Correctional Institution California. Still very ill Capone was paroled on in 1939. He spent his final years under medical care at his home on Palm Island, Florida. He died from cardiac arrest in 1947 and was buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.
Capone’s persona has been featured in many movies, the most notable is probably The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967) with Jason Robards, Capone (1975) with Ben Gazzara and The Untouchables (1987) with Robert De Niro.