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Alphonse Capone grew up in the Brooklyn slums and was thrown out of school in the sixth grade for attacking his teacher.
While working as a bouncer at the Harvard Inn for Frankie Yale, then head of the Unione Siciliane, Capone cracked many a drunk’s skull and was himself cut across the cheek, thus acquiring the nickname “Scarface”.
By 1919, Capone was suspected of two murderers and had became close friends with many future mobsters, including “Lucky” Luciano, Ciro Terranova and Johnny Torrio.
Capone was working for Torrio in Chicago when Torrio took over “Big Jim” Colosimo’s mob in 1920. Torrio set Capone up at the Four Deuces Saloon as a bodyguard, chauffeur and brothel pitchman. Capone was Torrio’s right hand man, learning the business while Torrio created a multimillion-dollar crime syndacate employing 1.000 people.
In 1925, Torrio was wounded in a gang shooting. He retired, a multimillionaire, leaving Capone to inherit his remarkable criminal organization. Like any corporation Torrio’s mob was divided into departments – in this case bootlegging, brothels, gambling and contract murder. The key leaders of what would be known for the next 30 years as the Capone mob were already in place when Capone took charge.
Capone was an efficient crime boss. Fiercely loyal to his key men, he often continued gang wars rather than turn a single hitman over to the “enemy” for retribution. He was the first mobster to court reporters, occasionally even holding press conferences.
He would need all his skill to survive the next four years, as the Torrio-O’Banion feud gave rise to the bloodiest gang war in U.S. history.
(1992 Max Allan Collins & George Hagenauer)