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His Chicago gang pulled in an estimated $100 million annually through illegal bootlegging, prostitution, gambling, and racketeering.Boston Public Library/Flickr
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Capone's bullet-proof Cadillac was eventually seized by the government and would later be used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images
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The scars on his face came from a knife fight. While living in Brooklyn, Capone hit on a woman in a bar and angered her brother, who tried to stab him in the neck. PhotoQuest/Getty Images
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Capone's attacker claimed that he was aiming for the gangster's neck but missed and slashed his cheek because he was drunk. Miami Police Dept./Wikimedia Commons
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The scars on his face would lead to the press dubbing him "Scarface," a name he hated. Friends would refer to him as either Big Al or Snorky, for his sharp dress. Wikimedia Commons/FBI
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The scars were a source of embarrassment for the mobster. He would say they were from a military injury in France, despite never having served.United States Bureau of Prisons/Wikimedia Commons
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During the Great Depression, Capone ran a soup kitchen, feeding hundreds of hungry Chicagoans who were out of work at the time. National Archives/Wikimedia Commons
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He may have been a murderer, but still showed class and would order expensive floral arrangments to be sent to the funerals of men that he had killed. Chicago Tribune historical photo/TNS via Getty Images
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Business leaders in Chicago were the first to make a public outcry for Capone's gang to be arrested. Few civilians were killed in the violence, but shootings on Michigan Avenue were harming the city's business. FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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The famous baseball bat scene fromThe Untouchables is somewhat fiction. Capone is reported to have used a bat as a weapon on at least three occasions, just not at a dinner party. Paramount Pictures
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Best-selling self-improvement author Dale Carnegie credits Capone with creating the public image of a successful businessman because of the gangster's dress and personality within the press. Library of Congress
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Because Capone wasn't a troublemaker at his Atlanta prison, he was likely sent to Alcatraz by the Feds in order to generate publicity for the new prison.Wikimedia Commons
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He had his enemies in prison and during his time at Alcatraz was wounded when another inmate, James Lucas, attacked him with scissors in the shower. NPS/Wikimedia Commons
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During his time at Alcatraz, one of his most enjoyable pastimes was playing banjo and guitar in a prison band called The Rock Islanders. Wikimedia Commons
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His life in crime started at an early age. Growing up in New York City, he fell in with a bad crowd early on and by sixth grade had dropped out of school and joined the Five Points Gang.Wikimedia Commons
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The key to getting a harsh sentence at the trial was a jury hand-picked by the judge. Because most men drank, it was difficult to find a jury willing to convict a bootlegger. Library of Congress
Eliot Ness' role in Capone's conviction was greatly exaggerated for Hollywood. While it's true that Ness' team helped lead to Capone’s indictment for Prohibition violations, the gangster's tax evasion was the case made by the courts that sent him to jail. Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images
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The court's sentencing of 11 and half years was a complete shock. Capone had rejected the offer the government had made and was expecting only a two-year sentence. Chicago History Museum/Getty Images
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Capone had enjoyed a cushy life while in prisons in Atlanta and Philadelphia and used cash to pay prison guards for special luxuries like a reading chair.Eastern State Penitentiary
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Capone had many names, one of them being the alias Albert Costa that he used to buy real estate in Florida, including a Miami mansion.Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images
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While Al might have been the No. 1 bootlegger, his brother, James Vincenzo Capone, worked on the right side of the law as a federal agent in Nebraska. Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images
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Capone thought highly of himself and outright told the press he was simply supporting his family and doing a "public service" for Chicagoans by giving them a means to drink and gamble. Boston Public Library/Flickr
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Syphilis took a severe toll on the gangster's brain. At the end of his life, a physician had assessed that his mental state was no greater than a 12-year-old's.Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images
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During his final days, Capone was said to sometimes have imaginary conversations with past associates that he had whacked. Boston Public Library/Flickr
25 Astounding Al Capone Facts That Show Why He’s History’s Most Infamous Gangster
No American gangster in history has cemented his place in the public imagination quite like Al Capone — and the facts above prove it. Through his various exploits, especially the sale of illegal alcohol during Prohibition, Capone and his gang pulled in mountains of cash and left trails of bodies in their wake.
Even more impressive than the estimated $100 million (nearly $1.5 billion today) that his illegal activities earned him is the fact that he amassed this enormous wealth in less than a decade.
Had he not built his fortune upon crime, Capone would have been a poster boy for the American dream. Unfortunately for him, he toiled in the Chicago underworld, was imprisoned for tax evasion, and died a delusional and syphilitic man at the young age of 48.
In terms of prominent mob figures from the 20th century, there was truly no one bigger, more boisterous, and historically mined than Al Capone.
The Most Shocking Facts About Al Capone
Born in Brooklyn to working-class Italian immigrant parents, Capone eventually rose to the rarified air of American wealth and power. But before "Scarface" (a nickname he hated) became the leader of the Chicago Outfit, the young man had a relatively normal childhood.
Capone came into the world on Jan. 17, 1899. His father, Gabriel, was part of the massive influx of Italian immigrants who arrived in New York just five years earlier. The resourceful barber and his wife, Teresa, had already been raising two sons — Vincenzo and Raffaele — when Frank Capone was born. Ultimately, Al would be the fourth out of nine children total.
Though they had a rather respectable, hardworking, and professional family, Capone was eager to make something more of himself than his father. Of course, the fact that he would one day become the FBI's "Public Enemy No. 1" was likely not the initial goal — but it certainly came to that soon enough.
Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty ImagesAl Capone smiling as he exits one of many courthouses. 1931.
After being kicked out of school at age 14 for hitting a teacher, Capone never went back to finish a formal education. He instead began slowly but surely rising in the ranks of the mob — but only after getting his face cut open by a young hoodlum at a brothel-saloon.
After accepting an invitation from fellow gangster Johnny Torrio to work for him in Chicago, Capone began making a name for himself in the Windy City. It was there that he took advantage of the public demand for alcohol during Prohibition — and built a reputation as a sharply-dressed Robin Hood of sorts.
"I'm just a businessman, giving the people what they want," he'd say. "All I do is satisfy a public demand."
As for the mob hits orchestrated by Al Capone, perhaps the most infamous of all was the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. It was this ruthless elimination of rival gang members that truly cemented the mobster as a force to be reckoned with. All but one of the unsuspecting 1920s gangsters were killed.
The Downfall Of Scarface
While he was still a low-ranking thug, he contracted syphilis from a prostitute at a bordello where he worked as a bouncer. He was so ashamed of his disease that he refused to treat it and instead turned his attention to rising to the top in the Chicago underworld.
Meanwhile, his powerful connections within the city government and police made him seemingly untouchable — for a while at least.
In 1931, the man responsible for untold murders and suffering finally found himself behind bars — for tax evasion. Unable to prosecute him for the crimes that built his wealth, authorities were ultimately able to bring him down on the grounds that he hadn't paid income tax on that fortune.
Ullstein Bild/Getty ImagesAl Capone spent the last few years of his life having delusional chats with long-dead friends.
At the same time, his untreated syphilis had begun to seriously damage his brain. After his wife Mae Capone successfully managed to get him out of prison on physical and mental health grounds, he was released early for "good behavior." He spent the rest of his life quietly in Florida.
It was there where Mae Capone served as a full-time caretaker. Besides watching over her ailing husband, she made sure to keep him out of the public eye. If Capone was painted as a delusional blabbermouth, that could make the Outfit regret letting him live.
In the end, Al Capone died of a series of complications. From syphilis rotting his internal organs to a sudden stroke allowing his weakened immune system to develop pneumonia, the man was a mess in the end. Ultimately, it was cardiac arrest on Jan. 25, 1947 that ended his short, fast-paced life.
Discover more about his astounding true story in the collection of Al Capone facts above.