When the word gangster comes to mind, the infamous names of Al Capone and Bonnie and Clyde enter our minds.
The life of Al Capone is one of the most scrutinized of all people. For those of you who are not the big scarface fans, here is a little background into his life.
Born 1/17/1899, Brooklyn
Died 1/25/1947, Florida
Al Capone is one of the most recognized names in American history.
Alphonse was born to Neapolitan immigrants Gabriel and Teresa. His surname, originally Caponi, had been Americanized to "Capone". The Capone family included James, Ralph, Salvatore (Frank), Alphonse, John, Albert, Matthew, Rose and Mafalda. Capone was proud to be an American "I'm no Italian. I was born in Brooklyn", he often said.
Al went to school with Salvatore Lucania, later known as Lucky Luciano. At about the age of ten he began to follow up-and-coming gangster Johnny Torrio, also a Neapolitan. At fourteen he quit school after striking a teacher. Capone and Lucky Luciano joined a gang known as the Five Pointers, on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Capone worked for Frank Yale, president of the Unione Siciliane, as a bouncer and bartender. One night he made a remark about the sister of Frank Galluciano, and Galluciano slashed Capone's face with a pocket knife, leaving three large scars on the left side of his face. For much of his criminal career, newspapers would call Capone by the hated name "Scarface". Incredibly, Capone choose to forgive Galluciano and, years later, hired him as a bodyguard.
Johnny Torrio had moved to Chicago to work for his uncle, Big Jim Colosimo. Torrio sent for his trusted lieutenant, Capone. Suspected of two murders, Capone was eager to leave New York. Capone worked under Torrio as a bouncer and thug. On May 11, 1920, Big Jim Colosimo was assassinated in his own cafe by an unknown killer. Johnny Torrio was now the leader of the most powerful gang in Chicago, and Capone his right-hand man.
Before retiring to Italy, Torrio turned over leadership of his gang to Capone.