By all accounts, Alphonse did well at school until the 6th grade, then at the age of 14 he was expelled for retaliating against a female teacher who hit him. Following his expulsion, the Capone family decided to move neighbourhoods – a chance move that would have a huge impact on Al’s criminal future.
Just round the corner from Capone’s new home was the headquarters of gentleman gangster Johnny Torrio’s East Coast operation. And like many boys in the area, he became involved in running errands for Torrio, just to earn a little extra money.
Despite his involvement with Torrio and street gangs, Capone continued to work and support his family. However, when Torrio moved to Chicago, Capone was left open to some bad influences.
At the age of 18, Capone was hired by an aggressive gangster Frankie Yale to work in his bar, the Harvard Inn. It was an incident in the Harvard Inn that earned Capone his nickname “Scarface”.
One night local gangster Frank Gallucio was drinking with his sister at the Harvard Inn, when Capone approached the young girl to pay her a compliment. Gallucio took offence to the young punk and began a brawl with Capone, it was during the scuffle the older man pulled a knife and cut Capone’s face three times – Scarface was born.
In early 1918, the career of Capone took another unexpected turn when he met the other most influential person in his life – his future wife Mae. Later that year, on December 4th, Capone became the proud father of Albert (Sonny) Francis Capone – Johnny Torrio became the godfather to his son.
Such a dramatic change in lifestyle made him reconsider his career, and he resigned from the Harvard Inn and went to work for a construction firm as a bookkeeper.
Chicago’s underworld beckons
In January 1920, the 18th Amendment of the Prohibition Act came into force, which made the brewing, distilling and distribution of alcohol completely illegal. The Prohibition era had begun, and Chicago’s criminal underworld, including Johnny Torrio, was well prepared to make bootlegging illegal alcohol an extremely profitable business.
Back in New York, Capone continued to concentrate on his legitimate career right up until the end of 1920 when his father tragically died. Without this strong parental figure, he resumed contact with Torrio, who had built up an influential racketeering empire in Chicago.
It wasn’t long before Torrio invited him to join him, and within a few months, Capone’s life took a drastic turn that would change his destiny forever.
At just 22 years of age Capone became Torrio’s partner in his Chicago businesses. Torrio’s empire had grown following Frankie Yale’s assassination of Big Jim Colosimo, and despite Yale’s intention to cash in on Big Jim’s floundering enterprises it was Torrio who took advantage of the situation. On the back of this success, Capone was given greater responsibilities and an opportunity to expand the operation to the Chicago suburb Cicero.
With his considerable and steady income, Capone bought a family home in Chicago, and moved several members of his family there, including his brothers Frank and Ralph. With Frank and Ralph on hand, Torrio decided to take a break from work, and while he was away, he went on to win a significant political victory in Cicero – but at a devastating price.
The 1924 primary election was key to Torrio and Capone’s dominance in Cicero, and on Election Day Capone’s men threatened voters and kidnapped the opponents of the candidates that their bosses were backing. The police looked on as Capone’s men rigged this election and finally decided to retaliate. It was Frank Capone not Al who bore the brunt of this reprisal, and he was gunned down because he was unfortunate enough to be recognised.
Al’s initial reaction to Frank’s death was surprisingly controlled, but a month later he shot petty thug Joe Howard dead for assaulting his Jewish friend Jack Guzik. Until now Capone had conducted his criminal career with considerable discretion, but at just 25 years of age, his cover was finally blown.
Gangland florist and North Side gang leader Dion O’Banion was something of a loose canon. Already causing Capone and Torrio problems with the law, O’Banion’s troublemaking culminated in a