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Al Capone posters


January 17, 1899

Birth Sign



5' 7" (1.7 m)


Infamous Chicago gangster Al Capone was born in the tough Williamsburgh section of Brooklyn, NY, the fourth of nine children of Italian immigrants from Naples. Capone was a born sociopath. In the sixth grade he beat up a teacher and promptly quit school. He picked up his education from the streets, "making his bones" when he joined the notorious James Street gang. This was run by Johnny Torrio, who later graduated Capone into the even more notorious Five Points gang. It was here that Capone became friends with Lucky Luciano, another who would become a hallmark in the '30s gangster era.By his late teens Capone had been hired by Torrio and Frankie Yale as a bouncer at a saloon / brothel in Brooklyn. In 1918 he was involved in a bar fight over a prostitute with hoodlum Frank Galluccio. Gallucio went after Capone with a knife, resulting in Capone's picking up the moniker by which he would be known for the rest of his life--"Scarface" (although that word was NEVER used in his presence). Capone, however, would attribute the scar to wounds he received in battle while fighting with the famous "lost battalion" in France during World War I (the fact that Capone never spent one minute in the army was a minor point, apparently). read more

By 1919 he was already suspected by New York police of at least two murders, so he moved to Chicago to work under Torrio's uncle, "Big" Jim Colosimo, a Chicago gangster who ran a string of brothels. Torrio and Colosimo had a dispute over bootlegging during the Prohibition era--Torrio was for it and Colosimo was against it. Torrio hatched a plot with Capone to have Colosimo "rubbed out" and they got their old pal Frankie Yale to do it. Over the next few years the new Torrio-Capone regime went to war with rival bootlegging gangs in Chicago. In 1924 they killed Charles Dion O'Bannion, head of the Irish North Side gang. That didn't end the war, however, which went on for several more years. Capone's younger brother Frank died in a hail of rival gangsters' bullets in 1924. In February 1925 Torrio, who had been badly wounded in a shootout, decided to retire. He told Capone, "It's all yours". At the tender age of 26, Al Capone found himself in control of a sophisticated crime organization with 1,000 gunmen at his command and a $300,000-a-week payroll. He was up to it, however, and made a smooth transition from a simple gun-toting leg-breaker, pimp and killer to a "business executive" (his business card stated that he sold "second-hand furniture"). It was estimated that at one point he had approximately half of Chicago's police department on his payroll, and his reach extended to the highest levels of Chicago's city government and even into the Illinois legislature (he was also suspected of having the Illinois governor "in his pocket"). He controlled the local political process by terrorizing voters into voting for candidates he picked. So great was his power that he claimed he "owned" Chicago, and once publicly assaulted the mayor of nearby Cicero--who was on his payroll--on the steps of City Hall for doing something without his clearance, while the local police looked the other way.Capone was probably the first "equal-opportunity" mob boss. While many of his fellow Italian and Sicilian gangsters would only hire those from their own ethnic group, Capone hired Jews, Irish, Poles, Slovaks, blacks--as long as he considered them trustworthy, they could work for Capone. He even purged the Chicago organized crime scene of "Mustache Petes", the old-time Sicilian gangsters who he didn't think were capable of running a "modern" crime organization. Capone ran Chicago's gambling, prostitution and bootlegging empire, getting rich giving people what they wanted. He was soon wildly popular among the citizenry and was even cheered at the ballpark, while "respectable" citizens like President Herbert Hoover were not. Capone absorbed smaller gangs into his own--sometimes by negotiation, other times by gunfire--extending his reach to outside the Chicago environs and expanding his empire even further. He was, however, always concerned for his own safety and surrounded himself with trusted bodyguards (including Frank Gallucio, the man responsible for his nickname, "Scarface"). Several attempts were made on his life by rival mobsters--one time a convoy of cars full of gangster Hymie Weiss' gunmen shot up a restaurant at which Capone was dining; the place was destroyed, but Capone came through unscathed. Another time would-be assassins poisoned his soup, but his luck held out again.On Valentine's Day in 1929 Capone ordered the bloody "St. Valentine's Day Massacre". His underlings found out the location of the warehouse of his rival George Moran (aka "Bugs" Moran) and that Moran was to attend a meeting there at a particular time. Capone sent a carload of his gunmen dressed as police officers to the address. Once there they lined up the seven men they found, but Moran wasn't among them; he was on the sidewalk heading towards the building when he saw the "police car" pull up in front and he quickly ducked into a nearby store. Nevertheless, Capone's gunmen machine-gunned them to death. Following the massacre (when Moran was later asked who he thought was responsible for the murders, he replied, "Only Capone kills like that"), public opinion about Capone began to change. He was not above killing on his own, either. When he was informed that his bodyguards John Scalise and Albert Anselmi were part of an assassination plot against him, he decided to take care of the matter himself. To put their minds at ease, he threw a banquet in their honor. While delivering a glowing testimonial to them, Capone suddenly pulled out an Indian club and beat both men to death.Although local and state authorities had been trying to bring down Capone for years, the federal government finally managed to do it by prosecuting him for income-tax evasion. He was tried, found guilty and sentenced to 11 years in the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, GA. In 1934 he was transferred to Alcatraz, a federal prison on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay that was set up to hold the nation's worst criminals. He never finished out his sentence, though. In 1939 he was paroled because of the ravages of neurosyphilis, a disease he contracted while running Torrio's and Colosimo's whorehouses. He lived the last eight years of his life as a virtual zombie at his estate in Florida, his brain almost totally destroyed by the disease.

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