From Al Capone's Rise to His Ruthlessness; 10 Lesser-Known Tales From the Gangster's Life

From Al Capone's Rise to His Ruthlessness; 10 Lesser-Known Tales From the Gangster's Life
Cover Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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In the annals of American criminal history, few names evoke as much fascination and infamy as that of Al Capone. The notorious mobster, has often been depicted as a ruthless gangster ruling over Chicago's criminal underworld during the Prohibition era. However, beyond the tales of violence and illicit activities, there are lesser-known aspects of Capone's life that paint a more intricate portrait of the man behind the legend. Delve into these 10 intriguing facts that shed light on the facets of Al Capone's life that haven't been highlighted.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Far from the gritty streets of Chicago which he ruled, Al Capone was surprisingly brought up in New York. In 1899, Capone was born to immigrant parents in Brooklyn, and his upbringing mirrored that of countless other struggling immigrant families. His father, a barber, and his mother, a seamstress, worked hard to provide for their nine children. These humble beginnings likely played a pivotal role in shaping Capone's pursuit of a more prosperous life.

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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Capone's path to criminal notoriety took an unexpected turn during his schooling years, although he never exhibited signs of the criminal behaviour early on. However, as he progressed through middle school, his interest in academics waned, and he gravitated toward the company of less savory characters. A pivotal moment arrived when he assaulted a teacher, leading to his abrupt departure from the educational system. Before his plunge into organized crime, Capone worked various odd jobs, including stints at candy stores and bowling alleys.

Image Source:
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

Capone's entry into the world of criminality began after his school days came to an abrupt end, and he found camaraderie with young gangs such as the South Brooklyn Rippers and the Forty Thieves Juniors. These groups primarily engaged in minor offenses like shoplifting and vandalism, but it was his association with the James Street Boys gang that laid the foundation for connections that helped him emerge as a kingpin.

Image Source:  Wikimedia Commons
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

During his time with the James Street Boys, Capone developed a close relationship with Johnny Torrio, the gang's leader, for whom he performed odd jobs until 1909. After Torrio relocated to Chicago, he introduced Capone to Frankie Yale, the leader of the Five Points gang. Capone's role as a bouncer and bartender in Yale's establishments was where his infamous moniker, Scarface, originated.

Image Source:  Wikimedia Commons
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

Contrary to cinematic depictions, Capone's scarred visage wasn't the result of a dramatic gangland clash. Instead, it stemmed from a brawl in a brothel where he worked as a bartender. During a fight with a woman and her brother, Capone's actions led to a violent altercation that left him marked with scars. This incident marked an early indicator of his propensity for violence, which would later become a hallmark of his criminal career.

Image Source:  Wikimedia Commons
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

In 1909, Torrio's relocation to Chicago marked a turning point for Capone as it set the stage for their collaboration in the criminal underworld. Capone officially joined Torrio in 1920, coinciding with the suspicious assassination of Big Jim Colosimo, Torrio's predecessor. This event allowed Torrio and Capone to seize control and embark on a bootlegging venture that would come to define their criminal empire.

Image Source: Arnie Papp/CC BY 2.0
Image Source: Arnie Papp/CC BY 2.0

 

Capone's attempts to legitimize his image were consistently overshadowed by his violent inclinations. His ongoing power struggles with rival gangs culminated in the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929. From his base in Miami, Florida, Capone allegedly ordered the execution of seven members of the Bugs Moran gang. The perpetrators, dressed as police officers, carried out the gruesome act, but the prime suspect Capone escaped conviction.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

 

While both Miami and the federal government sought to dismantle his empire, it was tax evasion that ultimately brought down Capone. Unable to prove his direct involvement in violent crimes, authorities targeted his financial improprieties. The US Treasury's Special Intelligence Unit meticulously gathered evidence of his undeclared wealth. In 1931, Capone faced conviction for tax evasion, resulting in an 11-year prison sentence, a portion of which he served at Alcatraz.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

 

Capone's move to Miami was far from a tranquil retirement, as locals saw him with suspicion, perceiving his presence as an invitation for criminal activity. Local media outlets waged a slanderous campaign against him, hoping to drive him away. Despite this opposition, Capone chose to establish roots in the city, prompting government intervention and continual surveillance that eventually played a role in his downfall.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons /Public Domain
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons /Public Domain

 

After his release from Alcatraz in 1939, Capone's health deteriorated due to advanced syphilis. Mental decline and dementia set in, rendering him incapable of returning to his criminal pursuits. He spent his remaining years in his Miami residence, passing away in 1947. His death marked the end of an era and was met with a mix of relief and celebration in the media.

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