Alphonse Gabriel Capone or popularly known as Al Capone is also known by the nickname Scarface. In case you don’t know him, he was an American gangster who gained fame and fortune as the co-founder and boss of the Chicago Outfit, the Italian-American organized crime syndicate based in Chicago.
A quick background, Scarface was born in Brooklyn, New York City to Italian immigrants. He was recognized as a Five Points Gang member who became a bouncer in organized crime sites. In his early 20s, he moved to Chicago and became a bodyguard and trusted assistant for Johnny Torrio, head of a criminal syndicate that illegally supplied alcohol. A conflict with the North Side Gang contributed to Al Capone’s rise and fall.
Torrio was forced to retire after North Side shooters almost killed him, giving control to Scarface. Capone expanded the black-market business through more violent means, but his mutually profitable relationships with Mayor William Hale Thompson and the city’s police made Al Capone seemed safe from law enforcement. His seven-year reign as crime boss ended when he was just 33-years-old.
12. Running The Streets
With limited formal education, Al Capone put his combative and rebellious tendencies to good use and worked as a bouncer at the Harvard Inn! He also got his hands dirty and worked as a bartender for a few years.
11. His Nickname
Al Capone’s face was slashed during a fight at the Harvard Inn, and from then on, he became known as ‘Scarface.’ The media also baptized him the nickname and later on, it became the title of the classic movie franchise.
But Al Capone couldn’t stand the nickname ‘Scarface.’ So his criminal colleagues referred to the mob boss as the ‘Big Fellow,’ while friends often referred to him as ‘Snorky.’ A different name for each, to separate work and family.
10. Finding Love
Al Capone married Mae Coughlin when he was just 19-years-old! The young couple eloped just weeks after the birth of their first child, Albert Francis and close friend Johnny Torrio became Albert’s godfather.
Scarface wanted to do right for his family, and so he briefly moved to Baltimore to make an honest living as a bookkeeper for a construction company. Sadly, his father died of a heart attack, and it made him angry and hurt enough to go back to Chicago!
9. Smarter Criminal
Al Capone’s friend Johnny Torrio had strong ties with the government, so he used his influence to get Capone out of any legal trouble. Torrio also encouraged him to become a smarter criminal! Advice from his mentor.
The mob boss also became known for his reckless, unpredictable behavior and he was known to drink and drive, often crashing into other vehicles. But he was never punished for his behavior.
8. Millions of Dollars
But one night in 1925, Capone’s friend and boss Torrio was gunned down outside his home. Although he survived the attack, it made him rethink his life of crime and so, he hung up his shoes and throne to leave Chicago, making Al Capone the new king of the show.
7. Robin Hood
Believe it or not, the people of Chicago once looked upon Al Capone as some Robin Hood. He often offered opportunities for the people to find ways to make money and a living for themselves. Well, we doubt it’s a clean form of living.
In 1926, two of Al Capone’s enemies from an opposing gang were spotted on the streets and Capone ordered his men to gun them down! He was never charged with the murders, despite a total of three people being killed!
6. “Peace Conference.”
Just a couple of months after the murders, Al Capone called a ‘Peace Conference’ among the city’s criminals, despite the fact that he was the biggest killer of them all! Unsurprisingly, the agreement lasted just two months.
In 1929, Scarface dominated the illegal liquor trade in Chicago. As opposition gang members tried to take out Capone and take over his businesses, Capone hired a man named ‘Machine Gun’ aka Jack McGurn to deal with the threat by killing seven men in cold blood! It looks like competition is a sin to him.
Strangely or not, Al Capone was never charged in the connection with the St. Valentine’s day massacre, and the case went unsolved. The public knew Capone was behind it all, but his hold over the government spared him!
In response to the St. Valentine’s day massacre, public objection finally saw President Herbert Hoover to order the federal government to step up and put Capone away on income-tax evasion charges if they couldn’t find him guilty of the murders.
4. Finally Indicted!
On June 5, 1931, Al Capone was finally charged for 22 counts of income-tax evasion and it all looked set for Al Capone to be put away. But feeling secure with the power and wealth he has, the charges didn’t scare Capone at all.
When you are one of the most notorious gangsters on the planet, there is probably very little you would be afraid of! He remained confident that he would get off with just a minimal sentence, however, his luck is running out.
3. The End?
Capone spent his first two years of his incarceration in a federal prison in Atlanta. He was later transferred to the infamous Alcatraz prison in 1934. During that time his once powerful influence started to decline and people started to forget about the notorious mobster.
Al Capone then started suffering from poor health. He contracted syphilis as a young man, and while in jail, he contracted neurosyphilis which resulted in dementia. Capone was then placed in a mental health hospital in Baltimore.
The once feared mob boss was now a mentally ill patient, whose days looked as though they were running out. Al Capone was then moved to Miami to be with his wife for a short time as the end looked near!
Al Capone was the definition of a man who believed that he was above the law and, for the most part, he was. His life has proved a great reference point for the various ‘mobster’ films out there.
Al Capone’s rise as a mobster was a short one but his legacy lasted for generations. He took his mentor’s advice seriously to be a smart criminal which made him stand out as mafia leader. Sadly, his life wasn’t full of good lessons to learn from but from his mistakes we can definitely learn a lot.
His life isn’t far from how the criminals of our time live right now. But Al Capone glamorized the mafia lifestyle and made it desirable in people’s eyes.