Capone, Al (1899–1947)

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Al Capone (1899–1947)


Chicago mob boss Al Capone, the most notorious gangster in American history, symbolized the breakdown of law and order following the passage of the Volstead Act. The Volstead Act ushered in Prohibition (see entry under 1920s—The Way We Lived in volume 2), which made the production and sale of alcohol illegal in 1919.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Capone came to Chicago, Illinois, as a young man. He took over the gang of Johnny Torrio (1882–1957) in 1925 and became immensely rich through bootlegging, prostitution, and gambling. Ruthless with rival gangs, Capone ordered the Saint Valentine's Day massacre of 1929. His gunmen, disguised as police officers, used submachine guns to wipe out seven of Capone's foes. Capone was finally convicted of income-tax evasion and sent to prison in 1931. After his release in 1939, he lived out the rest of his life in Florida, where he died in 1947.

Capone has been portrayed in films by such actors as Rod Steiger (1925–; in Capone, 1959), Jason Robards (1922–2000; in The Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, 1967), and Robert DeNiro (1943–; in The Untouchables, 1987). Capone was played by Neville Brand (1920–1992) in the television series The Untouchables (1959–63) and by William Forsythe (1955–) in that show's syndicated revival (1993–94).

—Justin Gustainis

For More Information

"Al Capone." Chicago Historical Society.http://www.chicagohs.org/history/capone.html (accessed January 28, 2002).

King, David C. Al Capone and the Roaring Twenties. Woodbridge, CT: Blackbirch Press, 1999.

Ness, Eliot, with Oscar Fraley. The Untouchables. New York: Messner, 1957.

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Capone, Al (1899–1947)

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