Al Capone

15 things you didn’t know about Al Capone – by Lesley Patterson

Today I will reveal some exciting and lesser-known facts about the infamous, much loved, and most feared Prohibition Era Gangster and Crime Boss, Al Capone.

Prision Mugshots of Al Capone
Alphonso Capone’s Prison Mugshots

 

Today we are set on revealing some exciting and lesser-known facts about the infamous, much loved, and most feared Prohibition Era Gangster and Crime Boss, Al Capone.

Alphonse Gabriel Capone was born to Italian immigrants Gabriele and Teresa Capone on January 17, 1899, in Brooklyn, New York City. His father was working as a Barber at that time, and his Mother Teresa took jobs as a Seamstress. Al was the fourth child out of nine, part of a large family, and a middle child among his siblings. The family was impoverished until Al was 11 years old, that’s the age he was when his father’s business started succeeding and making some profits. His father moved the family out of the dangerous slum area and into a more beautiful apartment in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn. You might say that “you can take Capone out of the city, but you couldn’t take the city out of Capone.”

Al was a promising student and good with his studies, but always the rebel, his educational years ended when he was 14 because he punched a female teacher in the face over a disagreement and was immediately expelled. Capone then works at different odd jobs around Brooklyn. Destiny called though when he meets his first mentor in crime, Johnny Torrio, and he begins associating with the local well-known smaller Gangs of the Forty Thieves, Bowery Boys, and Brooklyn Rippers. His vicious lusts had really taken root in him, and he continued to make contacts in the local Crime Organizations. His own more criminal, brutal behaviors started to blossom when he joined the well-known, most notorious Five Points Gang in lower Manhattan.

He then begins a job at a bar where he met his second mentor and fellow Racketeer, Frankie Yale. It was during his time there that he received the legendary scars on the left side of his face. He’d been working at a night club when he said something to a woman who was very displeasing to her, so her brother proceeded to take a knife and cut Capone’s face with it. People begin to call him “Scarface.” After that event, Capone would often hide the left side of his face from exposure during photographs and would talk about his “War Wounds.”

All too quickly though Al was again rising up the ranks in the Mob World and continued to make more illegal contacts. At 20 years old Al moves from New York to Chicago to become an Enforcer for James “Big Jim” Colosimo. He then works as “security” for a Brothel but ends up contracting the disease Syphilis, for which no treatment was ever sought. In 1923 he made a purchase on a cozy house in the city’s South Side for himself and his young wife, Mae Josephine Coughlin. Within just 10 years Al’s name started showing up in the Sports section of the local Newspapers where he was being hailed as a Boxing Promoter. His boss, “Big Jim” was murdered on May 11, 1920, and Al himself was once again suspected of committing the crime. His aforementioned violence had really started to rage from within, and Capone was utterly consumed by it. He was known in the Mobs for his brutality and ruthlessness, often going the extra mile to destroy a rival. During his time spent bootlegging he was said actually to blow people up in their breweries. “I have built my organization upon fear,” he’d proudly proclaim.

Johnny Torrio ran the most important organized crime group in the whole area, and he took Capone under his wing. One of his jobs was to focus on working out deals and the agreements for negotiations over Gang Territory. In January of h1925 Capone suffered an attack that left him wary and daunted, but not seriously hurt, and 12 days later Torrio was also assaulted, and was shot multiple times. After he got well Torrio gave all control of the Criminal Organizations to a 26-year-old Capone. He was now the Big Boss and ran everything from the breweries to networks for transportation that stretched into other countries. He did it all with apolitical protection and the support of law enforcement. The people loved him, seeing him as a “Robin Hood” character because of his generous and frequent donations to local charities. After more murders and due to ensuing political wars, the need for protection for the bootleggers had become too, and this made Capone flee Chicago.

It had gotten out that Al allegedly gave Chicago’s Republican party William Hale Thompson $250,000 and supposedly a discussion had opened up about support for the illegal bars and breweries belonging to Capone. He bribed the politician with intentions of taking down Bugs Moran, who was the leader of a rival gang. All of this ushered in the 1929 Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in which several people were killed when Al ordered a hit out on Bugs and his associates slaughtered seven of Bugs’ men while posing as officers of the law. The victims were ambushed, lined up against a brick wall, and shot to death. It later got out that Capone was responsible for the assassination and the local public who had once so revered Capone for his kindness and charity now saw what a monster he really was, and this resulted in the decision to try to lock him up and throw away the key, beginning Capone’s downfall.

Capone did indeed spend some time in jail for other much smaller crimes but was ultimately granted release when enough convicting evidence could not be found to persecute him. Al was excellent at not leaving traces and often used money orders instead of banks for his more significant transactions. This was so no one could tie money from the Gang’s forbidden bootlegging business in with him, as that’s where most of Al’s unlawful fortune and profits came from. Bent on catching Capone a Prohibition Agent named Eliot Ness assembled a team of trustworthy, steadfast agents who happened to be known as the “Untouchables” as they would not accept bribes and would not allow themselves to be bought off of the case. Ness and his team successfully raided several of Capone’s unlawful “businesses.” During this time Al repeatedly tried in vain to put a hit out on Ness, but it was always a fruitless failure, and Ness was never assassinated. Ultimately Ness was never able to catch Capone for his illegal activities regarding organized crime, but Ness did aid the IRS in popping him for evading his taxes, and he was sent to the Atlanta U.S. Penitentiary in May of 1932. Due to suspicions and gossip of his manipulating and trying to bribe or pay off the other inmates, along with stories of him receiving special treatment, Capone was eventually transferred to the notorious Alcatraz Federal Prison. During his stay there, he was the victim of a stabbing incident and was wounded, but lucky for him, the wounds were minor and not fatal in nature.

Al was then transferred from Alcatraz and placed into custody at the Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island in California where he served the rest of his sentence for contempt of court charge. He spent the last year of his imprisonment in the Alcatraz Prison Hospital. Finally, he was officially released on November 16, 1939. However, by then he was in serious ill-health from the severe untreated case of paresis (or late-stage Syphilis) that he was just a shadow of his former self and became severely lacking in his mental faculties. His brain had literally begun to erode, and he was very pathetic and spent most of his time in confused, bewildered states and was utterly mentally unstable and depressed. Once finally paroled he was referred to a physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore who’d examined him and concluded that Capone now only had the mental capacity of a 12-year-old boy. Despite this, Hopkins denied Al any treatment because of the notoriety and severity of his crimes. However, Union Memorial Hospital was willing to accept him, and Capone was so appreciative of their medical care and helped that he even donated two gorgeous Japanese Weeping Cherry Trees to the hospital in 1939.

Capone left the hospital on March 20, 1940, and traveled to Palm Island, Florida where his mansion was located where he spent the remaining days of his life with his wife and grandchildren. He suffered from a Stroke on January 21, 1947. He had started to come around and was recovering until catching pneumonia. He then deteriorated further and went into cardiac arrest on January 22, and just a few days later at 48 years of age Capone died on January 25, 1947, in his home, with his loved ones gathered around him.

We want to learn more about Al Capone because we are inspired by his success, talent, ambition, brute-force, and hardcore lifestyle. If anything, this was a stubborn man who survived for a long time in dangerous circumstances, even after the repeated attempts made to take his life. He may have done it in an entirely unlawful way, but Al Capone was an intelligent and accomplished, high-powered, successful businessman. He had a passion for power and pursued it to the fullest. He’d amassed a very impressive Net Worth of around $100 million as of 1929, which today with inflation considered would be approximately $1.3 billion. Capone once said, quote “I am just a businessman, giving the people what they want. So, it’s time now to take a look at the ultimate Italian Mafioso Archetypal Legend with the 15 things you didn’t know about Al Capone.

Number 1: He was expelled from school for punching a female teacher in her face.

Capone was a good student and did well in his studies, but he disagreed with the strict rules being enforced by his Catholic School. One day when he was just 14 years old he struck a female teacher in the face over a dispute they were having. He was immediately expelled and never returned to finish his education. Instead, he begins joining smaller gangs like the Bowery Boys, the Forty Thieves, and the Brooklyn Rippers. He also took on many odd jobs including working at a bowling alley and a candy sweets store. It was after joining the gangs that he started to become involved in criminal activities which peaked when he met his first mafia mentor a crime boss named, Johnny Torrio. Capone decided to join a more massive gang and teamed up with the notorious Five Points Gang of Manhattan, New York City. From there he became heavily involved in even more illegal and severe activities and began to earn his own renown amongst his criminal peers.

Number 2: He pioneered and opened the very first Soup Kitchen for the poor in Chicago during the Great Depression.

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that started in the United States and occurred in the 1920s and lasted throughout the late 1930s. It was the most far-reaching financially related epidemic of the entire 20th century. It began due to a nose-dive in stock prices that started at the end of October 1929 and was later appropriately coined as “Black Tuesday.” The effects were severe for both the rich and poor alike when finances from personal income, tax revenue. Profits and prices plummeted, along with International Trade coming in at deep under more than 50%. Unemployment in the U.S. alone escalated by a devastatingly, nose-bleeding high of 25%, with some countries rising up to 33%. People suffered greatly because there were not enough job sources to meet their basic needs. It was during these high-reaching, despairing times that Al Capone officially opened the first original Soup Kitchens for the poor in his city of Chicago. He was a pioneer who paid for everything to provide food to hungry and starving people who were suddenly without a source of food and rendered without any alternative income source. They literally had nothing, and Capone must have genuinely sympathized with them as he championed for his city’s people and showed an innovative, smart form of compassion and humanitarianism in a time of immense need.

Number 3: Capone grew up impoverished, but his family was law-abiding and respectable people.

Capone’s mother Teresa and his father Gabriele were Italian immigrants who came to America with hopes of making a better life for themselves and their children. They were an everyday, typical type of family and were very hard-working. His father was a barber and his mother a seamstress, and they were honest, folks who followed the law and were very devoted to their Family. Capone was not born into a life of crime, he got into it on his own and worked his way up in the world of criminal organizations. He made new contacts and with the aid of his many mentors, made it all the way to the top of the underground syndicates as a crime boss in a self-made empire that he owned and managed vivaciously.

Number 4: The Prohibition played a significant role in Capone’s amassing his fortune.

The Prohibition and the laws being enforced regarding alcohol consumption that made it so hard to obtain are a big part of how Capone made most of his money. He was so deeply involved with the illegal alcohol industry that he was known for blowing up bars, which he wouldn’t hesitate to do if they refused to buy alcohol from him. He eventually rose to power after his boss Johnny Torrio fled the country and gave control of the bootlegging to him. Capone was quoted as saying, “I am like any other man. All I do is supply a demand.” Despite all of this Capone had also stated to a journalist Howard O’Brien he was actually against Prohibition regardless of what most people thought. “It’s a lousy racket for the retailer, “he complained. “He’s got to work twenty hours a day and spend everything he makes to keep the cops off him.”

Number 5: His Net Worth today is valued at $1.3 billion.

It’s said that Capone was managing over 600 gangsters, all of whom were under his control and who helped to protect his business from rival gangs. Due to inflation, his criminal empire would be worth about $1.3 billion today. He liked to show off his fortune and loved the more beautiful things in life. When entertaining he was known to go all out on everything. He wore the most expensive, flashy clothing and jewelry that he could find and was very obsessed with it. He really enjoyed smoking fine cigars, and he has said to treat guests with experiences worthy of the book “Arabian Nights” and indulging them with silver buckets of iced Piper-Heidsieck from 1915, then platters of food, one after another. Capone’s large mansion at 93 Palm Avenue in Miami Beach, Florida just sold for $7.43 million in August of 2016. As of this date in October 2018, his collections of expensive and valuable items are being sold in an online estate sale. The collection of items for sale include Capone’s premium Diamond jewelry, his coin collection, mink coats, various valuable household items, decorative items like Persian rugs, and even his record collection are all being sold online now for very high amounts. It seems that everything bearing his name or connected to him is worth a lot of money just by the association alone.

Number 6: Capone was stabbed in prison over a haircut.

In 1934 while serving his time at Alcatraz prison, his swagger almost got him killed. After being sent transferred to the jail for being accused of receiving special treatment from the last one he was in, Capone still acted like he owned the place. Just one week after arriving at Alcatraz Capone allegedly tried to cut in line in front of about a dozen or so other inmates during prison haircuts, but one guy just wasn’t having it. A convicted bank robber, James Lucas took Capone’s disrespect and sense of entitlement badly, and he reacted by walking right up to Capone, grabbed him by the throat, and told him to knock it off. When Capone boldly asked him, “Do you know who I am?” Lucas lost it and replied, “I know who you are grease ball. And if you don’t get back to the end of that fucking line, I’m gonna know who you were.” After which Lucas proceeded to stab Capone in his back and face with a broken pair of scissors. Lucky for the Capone the wounds were just superficial, not fatal, but his attitude of entitlement nearly got him killed that day.

Number 7: Capone was responsible for the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago in 1929 where at least 15 were killed.

Capone couldn’t maintain his professional businessman appearance forever, and on Valentine’s Day in 1929 he ordered his men to dress as police officers and round up rival mob boss, Bugs Moran’s men against a brick wall after ambushing them, and Capone’s men did as he’d ordered and shot to death seven members of Moran’s gang. About 70 rounds or so of ammunition had been fired and ended their lives. The assassinations were discovered by the Chicago police from the 36th District investigated, and while it was said that Capone had ordered the murders, it could not be proven. However, when the story hit newspapers and media people worldwide were shocked by the brutality of the massacre and begin to see Capone for the violent killer that he actually was rather than the friendly, successful, and wealthy businessman who’d started a soup kitchen and donated to charities. This marked his downfall as the public demanded justice and the law begins working on ways to get enough evidence of his criminal activities so that he could be imprisoned for his viciously vile crimes.

Number 8: He was dubbed “Public Enemy №1” by Newspapers, and a legal investigation was launched against him.

The story of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and Capone did not sit well with anyone, and the Newspapers continued to report on it. The scandal ran deep and was a popular topic in the city and even nationwide. People demanded justice, so the government acted and launched an investigation into Capone’s criminal activities. When he failed to show up for court after being subpoenaed in March 1929, a warrant was put out on him, and police arrested him on charges of Contempt of Court. Capone immediately posted bond and was released but was detained again in May for carrying concealed weapons. He served nine months in prison when he was released on good behavior. In February 1931 he was sentenced to six months in jail for the contempt of court charges. Frustrated investigators couldn’t find enough evidence to lock him up for his committed crimes and an investigation was opened against Capone by the U.S. Treasury Department who later on found enough evidence to have him charged with Tax Evasion and this resulted in him being charged with it and then sentenced to 11 years in prison in June 1931.

Number 9: His family brought out the soft spot hidden within Capone, and he was a bit of a mama’s boy.

In spite of the hard exterior, Capone had a soft center, and it was his deep love for his family. He loved his wife, his children, his grandchildren, and most of all his mother. He’d remarked to Journalist Howard O’Brien that he never wanted his own boys to get mixed up in the criminal racket that he was involved with. In his office were framed pictures of his family, and during an interview with O’Brien he was, he was overheard as referring to himself as a “kid” when he spoke to his wife on the phone. Later when his mother also called, Capone put her as a priority and began to speak Italian while he talked with her. In a letter that he wrote to his son from prison, he told him to stay strong and that he really wanted to see his son and his wife again. He signed the letter with, “Love and Kisses, Your Dear Dad Alphonse Capone, #85.”

Number 10: Capone was very into refined fashion and collected suits and jewelry to show off his wealth.

Capone was known for buying the most expensive, lavish things that he could find. One of his favorite indulgences was his stylized appearance, so he often bought, collected, and wore expensive suits, clothing, and jewelry. He always had a very ornamented appearance, and his suits alone were imported from Italy and cost him $500 each, which now would be valued at about $6,500. He would adorn these with white pocket squares and accessorize them with precious jewelry such as Diamond pinky rings, platinum jewelry, jewel-encrusted watches, and much more. Recently in 2017, this gangster’s diamond and platinum pocket watch was sold in an auction for an astounding $84,375.

Number 11: Capone has become the Archetypal icon of a hardcore Mobster and has lived on through print and film.

In 1932 a movie loosely based around Capone was released, it was the original first version of the well-known, very popular “Scarface” films. The movie was such a hit that Director Oliver Stone later re-made it into the version that we all know and love today which was released in December of 1983. There is news going around about an updated version of “Scarface” coming out, but it does not currently have a solid release date though at first Universal Studios claimed that it would hit theaters in August 2018. The movie is being done by a new director and actors and is being highly anticipated by “Scarface” lovers the world over.

Number 12: Tom Hardy to Star as Al Capone in the upcoming film “Fonzo.”

Tom Hardy is so good at playing the villain that he’s been cast as Al Capone in the upcoming new movie “Fonzo” created by writer-director Josh Trank. This was announced in August 2018, just two months ago, and is being highly anticipated by fans. It truly goes to show that legends never die. “Fonzo” will be focused around the icons battles with dementia after serving nearly 10 years in prison. It does not currently have a release date, but when Fandango tweeted about it, they announced that we could expect it in 2019. (The tweet was later deleted.) Regardless, the news of its release has excited and delighted “Scarface” and Al Capone fans everywhere, and people are eager to see this new portrayal of the Mob Boss Mafioso. Pictures have been released with Tom Hardy dressed in character, and they’ve become trendy.

Number 13: Capone used to get bags upon bags of fan mail, literally up to two thousand letters each week.

Capon has always been a robust popular personality, and when he was alive and at his criminal peak he used to get movie-star good-sized bags of it, receiving about two thousand letters each week. He was quite popular, plus he never shied away from the media but instead seemed to enjoy being in the spotlight. He often did photoshoots and interviews like the one he did for Variety in 1931. This edition featured the title “Capone Kids Gang Films” and was written by Lou Greenspan. The focus of the piece was the mob boss’s reaction to all of the gangster films that were being released at that time. He has a lot of fans, and they seemed enthralled by him, and that fascination has endured for decades, making him a supremely favorite gangster mob boss and an icon that is sure to live on in our hearts, minds, and culture forever.

Number 14: Capone’s long untreated case of late-stage Syphilis is eroded his brain and was what eventually majorly contributed to his death at the early age of just 48.

Capone had the disease of Syphilis, most likely contracted at a brothel that he ran. (Although he loved his wife he was still a philanderer with a hefty addition to women and sex.) The disease could have been cured with Penicillin, but he never received or sought out any type of treatment, and the condition significantly contributed to his fast detention in prison. During his last year at Alcatraz, he was staying in the prison’s hospital because he deteriorated so quickly, both in health and in mind. The severe case of late-stage Syphilis was eroding his brain, and when he was examined by a doctor it was discovered that his brain had suffered so much damage from the paresis that he was now left with the mental faculties of a 12-year-old boy and his mental health was also failing him. He spent much of his time in a confused, disoriented state of psychosis and was severely ill. Capone had a stroke in January of 1947 and was slowly recovering and regaining consciousness when he contracted pneumonia, It was downhill from there, and he died three days later, on January 25, 1947, at his mansion in Florida surrounded by his family. The official cause of death was cardiac arrest.

Number 15: Capone made the Mafia look attractive and cool which has gotten him a loyal fan-base and some major crime organizations of today are only active because of him.

Capone impacted the world by birthing a new, more refreshing image of an Italian Gangster crime boss, and thanks to him, some new major crime organizations have him to thank for them still being around. He fed the dirty underbelly of the criminal underground, and to this date, his stomping grounds in Chicago continue to suffer and have the most considerable crime rates in the US to this very day. His legacy lives on in the hearts, minds, and fears of others. Gangs still fight over the same territories that he had done negotiations on when he was the reigning supreme king of the underground. We’ve seen groups and that particular street culture become increasingly popular, and rather than disgust its greeted with a response of ever-increasing fans who think that Capone was a sensational, bigger than life personality and actually even envy or look up to him. His memory will forever live on, in the works that he did, the violence which he committed, and the flashy executive style that he dressed in. Our culture sees him as a pop icon of sorts and idolizes him. He did one good thing for the world by creating his Soup Kitchen, as it inspired the entire United States to start offering this service to the poor and hungry in each State from then on. Capone’s memory has not even begun to fade, and he is majorly responsible for our present-day culture seeing criminals in a much more relaxed, glorious, “larger than life” light rather than as the villains, scoundrels, and thieves who break the law for their own benefit. “Scarface” was so iconic that he will never truly die, as his actions have painted and tainted history with blood, gore, and gang violence that will stick with us to the end of time. Al Capone himself said, “Once you’re in the racket, you’re always in it.”

There you have it, some interesting lesser-known facts about the Mafioso Boss, Al Capone. Now that you’ve learned more about Capone, we’d like to know: Which one of his actions or qualities stands out most to you? Do you think that Capone really sympathized with the charities that he donated to due to his poor beginnings, or do you think he did it just to present the image that he wanted to portray to the public? Let us know in the comments.

Still here? Here’s a bonus fact just for you.

Number 16: He was called “Snorky” as a nick-name by his closest friends.

Despite being renowned for his famous nickname “Scarface,” his best friends and those close to Capone actually affectionately called him “Snorky.” The definition of the word snorky is ritzy, flashy, a sharp dresser, and a fashionable, elegant person. He certainly was a very snazzy dresser and fit that description perfectly. Capone liked the term, and he wished to be known by it instead of “Scarface” as he felt that it expressed and emphasized his image as the wealthy and successful businessman that he always had wished to be seen as.

Al Capone - The True Story
circa 1930: Italian-American gangster Al Capone (1899 – 1947) with US Marshal Laubenheimer. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lesley Patterson is an Award-Winning Author, Poet, Blogger, and Freelance Writer. She's a Shelter Pet - Rescue and Adoption Advocate and an Entrepreneur who is very skilled at Social Media Networking, Marketing, and Sales. Lesley is in her mid-30's and is a generational Scorpio Daughter, Sister, Wife, and Mother. She is a Spiritualist and a Natural Pagan Witch who offers Spiritual Advisory Services as well. Raised in the mid-1980s and early 1990s in Sacramento, California, she grew up in the Reno, Nevada area, and since then has moved out to Fallon, Nevada. She offers her various Services on a case-by-case basis, and she is very passionate about both what she believes in, and in what she writes about. She showcases her unique, original, and persuasive conversational-styled Writing here on WritingBeautifully.com and she runs both the website as well as her own Blog. You may get in touch with her at any time by emailing her at: LesleyPatterson@WritingBeautifully.com -- or by sending an email to the Admin at: Admin@WritingBeautifully.com #FreelanceWriter #WritingServices #Writing #Writer #WritingBeautifully #WritingBeautifullyBlog #Writers #WritersLife #WritersCommunity #ContentCreationSpecialist #ArticleWriting #NewsWriting #B2BWriting #B2CWriting #BusinessWriting #ContentCreation #ContentSpecialist #LadyOpaque #LesleyPatterson #GhostWriting #CopyWriting #Editor #Editorial #Journalist #Journalisim #Blogger #Blogging #ProfessionalWritingServices #ProfessionalWriting #ProfessionalWriter

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