Alphonse Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York, on January 17, 1899, the son of Gabriele and Teresa Capone. He became the most brilliant, notorious, enigmatic, successful, ruthless mobster in modern history.
He arrived a year before the century turned; Prohibition went into effect on his 21st birthday in 1920. The 18th amendment was Al's birthday gift and he made great use of it, proving without a doubt that it was an attempt to legislate morality, a wellspring of criminal enterprise, and an extremely bad idea.
Al became a waiter and bouncer for Frankie Yale at The Harvard Inn, Yale's restaurant at Coney Island, where he proved to be as tough as they came.
Al and his mother, Teresa
Al moved to Chicago in 1920, about the same time that Vincent Gebardi (Jack McGurn) arrived there with his family. Al worked for Johnny Torrio, a relatively mild-mannered mobster and cousin of Chicago's Big Jim Colosimo. Al's first job was as a "capper" at the Four Deuces, Torrio's main bordello located at 2222 South Wabash. Al would stand out on the sidewalk trying to entice gents in, saying things like, "We gotta lotta nice girls in here." It was a job for a man of iron, a man who could shrug off abuse and turn it back out, which was one of Al's specialties.
Al and boxer Jim Braddock (The Cinderella Man) play a little medicine ball in Miami. Capone loved fighters, which is how he met Jack McGurn in 1923, stealing him from the fight game and getting him into the Outfit.
He was called:
Public Enemy Number One
The Big Fellow
But mostly, Mr. Capone
Al and his wife, Mae, the Irish Madonna who he kept far from the limelight and the press. This is one of the few pictures ever taken of her by a press photographer.
Al giving "the look" in 1928.
The Big Fella plenty chagrinned at being booed at a Northwestern University football game on October 3, 1931. McGurn had to hustle Capone out as thousands jeered.
Al looking uncharacteristically defeated after the verdict of his ruinous tax evasion trial. October 17, 1931
Al Capone in prison, showing the beginnings of the ravages of his syphilis. His eyes show his increasing sickness and his pain.
Capone and his attorney after his release from Alcatraz
Capone in 1945, fishing in his bathrobe and pajamas. He succumbed to heart failure in 1947. He was one of the least likely men in the world to die at home, but he did.
Al Capone - proof that a great man isn't necessarily a good man, although he was always good to his family.