For the first installment of “Gangsters” I have chosen Alphonse “Big Al” Capone (1899-1947), one of the most notorious gangsters to ever live. Born in Brooklyn, New York to Italian immigrants, Capone began his life of crime by joining a kids street gang where he learned the ropes and tightened his criminal game. As a teenager he worked at clubs, bars, and brothels on Coney Island. His girlfriends were prostitutes. It was there where he received scars on is face for getting into a knife fight over a girl, giving him the nickname, “Scarface”. When he turned 20, Capone moved to Chicago.

By 1924 during the time of prohibition, Capone was pimping hoes, bootlegging alcohol, running gambling houses, and leading an extremely violent criminal lifestyle. Though short lived, he was also known as a modern day Robin Hood, setting up soup kitchens to feed the poor.

A very interesting fact about Al Capone is, he lobbied to put expiration dates on dairy products after members of his family became ill from expired milk.

By 1925 at the age of 26, Capone became the boss after his mentor and leader Johnny Torrio was severely wounded. In 1929 he orchestrated the most spectacular mob hit in gangland history, The St. Valentines Day Massacre. In an attempt to assassinate the leader of Chicago’s North Side Mob George “Bugs” Moran, and his men, Capone arranged for someone to call Moran and tell him that a special shipment of hijacked whiskey was going to be delivered to one of Moran’s garages. As Moran’s men waited outside the garage for the shipment to arrive, Capone’s men showed up in a police car dressed as cops and pretended to bust them. The men were lined up against the wall and gunned down in cold blood. Fortunately for Moran, he arrived late, saw the police car thinking it was a bust, and turned around.

In 1931 Al Capone was sentenced to 11 years in prison for flagrant tax evasion. He was held without bail at Cook County Jail until he was transfered to Atlanta in 1932 where he was able to manipulate the guards and the warden to get get everything he wanted. In 1934 he was transfered to Alcatraz in San francisco where he was held without any special privileges. Al Capone died on January 25, 1947, in his Palm Island Mansion from complications of syphilis.

Many movies have been made about Capone, but the most famous are probably The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967) with Jason Robards, Capone (1975) with Ben Gazzara and The Untouchables (1987) with Robert De Niro.

The St. Valentines Day Massacre

Top 10 Gangsters List

Al Capone on Alcatraz

Al Capone: The Untouchable Legend (Full Program)

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