Born on January 17, 1899 in Brooklyn, NY, Al Capone was the son of two Italian immigrants. Gabriel Capone, his father, was a barber. Teresina Raiola, his mother, was a seamstress.
Al, whose full birth name was Alphonse Gabriel Capone, had eight siblings: six brothers and two sisters. Unlike other immigrants during their time, the Capone clan was a respectable, working family. However, they lived in a slum near the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Capone was a promising student. But at 14, he was expelled from school for hitting one of his teachers. He never attended a new school after the incident. Not long after, Capone met Johnny Torrio, an infamous gangster who trained him in running a racketeering enterprise.
In 1909, Torrio relocated to Chicago. After over a year, he sent for Capone. Torrio retired from the gangster life in 1925. Capone took over the empire and evolved to become the new crime czar.
During his lifetime and up to this day, Al Capone is regarded as one of the most famous mafia figures in the world.
Scarface and Other Monikers
Capone’s infamous nickname was Scarface. In 1917, his left cheek was slashed with a razor during a brawl at the Harvard Inn. Capone slighted a female patron. Her brother retaliated and gave young Al three permanent scars.
In many interviews and photographs years later, Capone would often shield the scarred part of his face. When asked about it, he would make it sound like the scars were war wounds even though he was never a military man.
When he rose to prominence in the mafia world, the press dubbed him as “Scarface.” It was a moniker he deeply disliked. In the criminal world, Capone was known as the “Big Fellow.” His closest friends and associates called him “Snorky,” a slang term for spiffy.
Capone became a husband in 1918 when he married Mae Coughlin. His wife, an Irish, came from a middle-class family. At the start of their marriage, Capone took a brief hiatus from being a gangster. For a time, he worked as a bookkeeper. But when his father passed away unexpectedly, he went back to work for Torrio.
Together, Al and Mae had one child, a son they named Sonny. The two remained married until the death of Capone.
Capone and Torrio
When Capone was a teenager, he met Johnny Torrio, a pretty well-known gangster at that time. Torrio would eventually become a prominent figure and influence in Capone’s life. The gangster taught Capone the ins and outs of the crime world. In particular, he trained the would-be mob boss how to keep a respectable front while operating a racketeering business.
Torrio was a representation of a new dawn in the crime world. It was the era where the violent and unsavory lifestyle was obscured by a respectable, corporate empire. Soon after, Capone joined Torrio’s gang, which eventually gave birth to the Five Points Gang.
In 1909, Torrio relocated to Chicago to help operate a huge brother business. And after a year, Capone followed. At that same period, Torrio’s boss, Big Jim Colosimo, was killed. It was rumored that the hit was executed by Capone himself. Others speculated that it was actually Capone’s immediate boss, Frankie Yale, who offed Colosimo. Either way, when the mafia leader died, Torrio became the new mob boss.
$100 Million Annual Net Worth
When Torrio took over the crime network, he made Capone one of his key sergeants. In 1925, the mob boss was gunned down just outside his home in Illinois. While he survived the assassination, Torrio and his family left Chicago in the latter part of the year. He chose Capone, who was 26 at that time, as his replacement.
Capone, as a mafia boss, expanded “the outfit” as he would often refer to his underworld empire. Not long after, Capone would become one of the most prominent mobsters in the US. By some accounts, his network raked over $100 million net worth each year. The biggest percentage came from bootlegging, then gambling, followed by prostitution, and then racketeering.
Capone soon became an international personality. He wasn’t apologetic for his way of life or how he made his living. When interviewed about his lifestyle, he would claim that he was just doing a public service since 90 percent of the folks in Cook County enjoy drinking and gambling.
Imprisonment and Death
In 1931, Capone was convicted and imprisoned in Atlanta due to several counts of tax evasion. He was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment along with $80,000 worth of fines and fees. Bail was rejected.
Three years after, Capone was moved to the Alcatraz prison in San Francisco. There, his jail privileges and contact with the outside world were significantly reduced. His sentence was shortened to six and a half years for good behavior. But during his last years in prison, his already declining health was amplified by tertiary syphilis.
Capone’s health slowly deteriorated even after his release. On the 25th of January 1947, Al Capone died of cardiac arrest. He was 48.
Here are some of the best Al Capone quotes:
Best Al Capone Quotes
“What do you want to do, get yourself killed before you are thirty? You’d better get some sense while a few of us are left alive.” – Al Capone
“Bolshevism is knocking at our gates, we can’t afford to let it in. We must keep America whole and safe and unspoiled.” – Al Capone
“Every time a boy falls off a tricycle, every time a black cat has gray kittens, every time someone stubs a toe, every time there’s a murder or a fire or the marines land in Nicaragua, the police and the newspapers holler ‘get Capone’.” – Al Capone
“I got nothing against the honest cop on the beat. You just have them transferred someplace where they can’t do you any harm.” – Al Capone
“…Don’t ever talk to me about the honor of police captains or judges. If they couldn’t be bought they wouldn’t have the job.” – Al Capone
“A crook is a crook, and there’s something healthy about his frankness in the matter. But any guy who pretends he is enforcing the law and steals on his authority is a swell snake.” – Al Capone
“The worst type of these punks is the big politician. You can only get a little of his time because he spends so much time covering up that no one will know that he is a thief.” – Al Capone
“A hard-working crook will and can get those birds by the dozen, but right down in his heart he won’t depend on them-hates the sight of them.” – Al Capone
“Prohibition has made nothing but trouble.” – Al Capone
“I’ve lost a million and a half on the horses and dice in the last two years. And the funny part is, I still like ’em, and if someone handed me another million I’d put it right in the nose of some horse that looked good to me.” – Al Capone
“I am just a businessman, giving the people what they want.” – Al Capone
“Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class.” – Al Capone
“I am sick and tired of publicity. I want no more of it. It puts me in a bad light. I just want to be forgotten.” – Al Capone
“All I ever did was supply a demand that was pretty popular.” – Al Capone
“I am like any other man. All I do is supply a demand.” – Al Capone
“I have always been opposed to violence, to shootings. I have fought, yes, but fought for peace.” – Al Capone
“I believe I can take credit for the peace that now exists in the racket game in Chicago. I believe that the people can thank me for the fact that gang killings here are probably a thing of the past.” – Al Capone
“Hell must be a pretty swell spot, because the guys that invented religion have sure been trying hard to keep everybody else out.” – Al Capone
“Now I know why tigers eat their young.” – Al Capone
“Public service is my motto.” – Al Capone
“They talk about me not being legitimate. Nobody’s on the legit, you know that and so do they. Nobody’s really-on the legit when it comes down to cases.” – Al Capone
“Once you’re in the racket, you’re always in it.” – Al Capone
“They can’t collect legal taxes from illegal money.” – Al Capone
“I never stuck up a man in my life. Neither did any of my agents ever rob anybody or burglarize any homes while they worked for me. They might have pulled plenty of jobs before they came with me or after they left me, but not while they were in my outfit.” – Al Capone
“Some call it bootlegging. Some call it racketeering. I call it a business.” – Al Capone
“The parasites will trail you, begging for money and favors, and you can never get away from them no matter where you go.” – Al Capone
“The funny part of the whole thing is that a man in this line of business has so much company. I mean his customers.” – Al Capone
“I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man.” – Al Capone
“If people did not want beer and wouldn’t drink it, a fellow would be crazy for going around trying to sell it!” – Al Capone
“The country wanted booze and I organized it. Why should I be called a public enemy?” – Al Capone
“It’s pretty tough when a citizen with an unblemished record must be hounded from his home by the very policemen whose salaries are paid, at least in part, from the victim’s pocket.” – Al Capone
You might say that every policeman in Chicago gets some of his bread and butter from the taxes I pay.” – Al Capone
“Why not treat our business like any other man treats his, as something to work at in the daytime and forget when he goes home at night?” – Al Capone
“There’s plenty of business for everybody. Why kill each other over it?” – Al Capone
“You can do more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word.” – Al Capone
“People who respect nothing dread fear. It is upon fear, therefore, that I have built up my organization.” – Al Capone
“Those who work with me are afraid of nothing. Those who work for me are kept faithful, not so much because of their pay as because they know what might be done with them if they broke faith.” – Al Capone
“I’m the boss. I’m going to continue to run things.” – Al Capone
“They’ve been putting the roscoe on me for a good many years and I’m still healthy and happy.” – Al Capone
“Don’t let anybody kid you into thinking I can be run out of town. I haven’t run yet and I’m not going to.” – Al Capone
“It seems like I’m responsible for every crime that takes place in this country.” – Al Capone
“I would rather be rich affluent and greedy and go to hell when I die, than live in poverty on this earth.” – Al Capone
“You’d be surprised if you knew some of the fellows I’ve got to take care of.” – Al Capone
“In this life all that I have is my word and my balls and I do not break them for nobody.” – Al Capone
“Be careful who you call your friends. I’d rather have four quarters than one hundred pennies.” – Al Capone
“I’m a kind person, I’m kind to everyone, but if you are unkind to me, then kindness is not what you’ll remember me for.” – Al Capone
“When I sell liquor, it’s bootlegging. When my patrons serve it on a silver tray on Lakeshore Drive, it’s hospitality.” – Al Capone
“Vote early and vote often.” – Al Capone
“We must keep the worker away from red literature and red ruses; we must see that his mind remains healthy.” – Al Capone
“All I ever did was sell beer and whiskey to our best people.” – Al Capone