Fact: Flamboyant gangster Al ‘Scarface’ Capone ruled Chicago’s gambling, prostitution and bootlegging rackets with fear, corruption and murder. Here are some additional shocking facts about Capone’s short and brutal life.
#1 He was born on the 17th January 1899 in Brooklyn, New York and first ran with the ‘Forty Thieves’ before joining Johnny Torrio’s ‘Five Points’ Gang.
#2 He got the name ‘Scarface’ when tending the bar in a brothel/ speakeasy. His pass at a female guest so offended her brother that he slashed Capone’s cheek leaving three deep scars.
#3 Capone took over running the brothels, gambling dens, bootlegging and speakeasies from Torrio. He ruled with fear, bribery and corruption and even infiltrated his brothers into the local police.
#4 He loved glamor and wore sharp suits, a white fedora, and a huge diamond pinkie ring. His Chicago base was the luxurious Metropole Hotel, and he built this palatial home on his Miami Palm Island estate.
#5 He adored being a celebrity and loved to give quotes to the press. He tried to build a Robin Hood image with stories of giving coal and clothes to the poor and setting up soup kitchens to feed the needy.
#6 A violent power struggle grew between Capone and George “Bugs” Moran leading to the violent deaths of many gang members on both sides. The most notorious of these was on 14th February 1929 with the ‘Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre’. Seven members of the Bugs Moran gang were gunned down by Capone’s crew who were posing as police. Capone had a solid alibi – he was being questioned by a solicitor in Miami – but everyone knew he was responsible.
#7 Headlines across the US dubbed him: “Public Enemy No. 1.” President Herbert Hoover demanded: “Have you got this fellow Capone yet? I want that man in jail!“
#8 After a long investigation, Capone was finally was indicted for evasion of federal income tax in June 1931. He was sentenced to 11 years and later moved to the infamous Alcatraz prison before being released early for good behavior. He returned to his Miami mansion where he died on January 25, 1947 of a cardiac arrest at the age of 48.
#9 He liked to take personal revenge. When two Sicilian colleagues betrayed him he invited them to dinner then beat them viciously with a baseball bat. This incident is shown in the film The Untouchables, with Robert De Niro playing Capone.
The last word on Capone comes from his own lips in a quote which perfectly outlines his practical and brutal life philosophy:
“You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone”.