Obit of the Day (Historical): Al Capone (1947) “Scarface” Capone died on this date 54 years ago…of syphillis. Which epitomizes his life. He didn’t die in a flurry of bullets but from “a social disease.” He wasn’t arrested for the numerous violations of the Volstead Act or murders, like the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre but for the “comparatively sissy charge” of tax evasion. (The quotations are from the NY Times obit…it’s a must-read.) A few interesting facts about Capone:
* His “legitimate” business was furniture salesman. The only furniture salesman in America who couldn’t get life insurance.
* He moved his operation to Cicero, IL (Chicago suburb) after the election of Mayor William Dever (1923-1927) who vowed to “clean up” Chicago. Cicero’s reputation for crime and corruption became so well-known that in Guys & Dolls Big Jule tells the police that he is from East Cicero, IL. (There is no East Cicero — it’s Chicago.)
* Capone’s scare came from a knife fight in Brooklyn as a teenager. He hated the scar and hated the nickname “Scarface.” (Note: ALL gangsters hated their nicknames. “Bugsy” Siegal hated “Bugsy.” “Bugs” Moran hated “Bugs.” “Baby Face” Nelson hated “Baby Face.” So if you travel back in time DON’T use the nicknames.) Capone hated it so much that he asked that his picture, when possible only be taken from the right side…and the press agreed. (Although you can see it on the cover above.)
* The fine print under ALPHONE “SCARFACE” CAPONE on the Time cover is “A pink apron, a pan of spaghetti.” So a contrast in images.