Alphonse Gabriel Capone, better known as Al Capone, was born on 17 January 1899 in New York City. One of nine siblings born to Neapolitan immigrants, Al Capone was forced to leave school at the age of 14, following a series of fights with a teacher. After that, it didn't take long for him to join the Brooklyn Rippers, a gang well known for its petty crimes and local disturbances.
Before he was even 20, Capone was married with one son and working for Frankie Yale, the leader of the infamous Five Points Gang. It was during this time that Capone had the knife fight that earned him the notorious cheek scar and the nickname Scarface. Al Capone moved to Chicago by order of Yale, who was worried that his protégé was "heating up" the local gang scene too much by assaulting and killing two rival gang members. It didn't take long for him to find his place in the new city –In just a couple of months, he became second in command to Johnny Torrio, a well-known thug.
During the Prohibition era, Al Capone made over 100 million US dollars (USD) a year in the illegal trade of alcohol and prostitution. Despite several attempted assassinations and his obvious criminal conduct, Capone remained invulnerable until he was convicted of tax evasion and sent to prison in 1932. This conviction was the result of the extensive work of the Untouchables, a fierce group of US Treasury agents under the leadership of Eliot Ness.
Once in Alcatraz, Capone started to lose much of his confidence and power. Betrayed by internal friends and unable to bribe guards to get what he wanted, he slowly became erratic and was ultimately diagnosed with dementia. He spent several years at the Baltimore State Mental Institution before being set free in 1945. Capone died of pneumonia in 1947, leaving behind a crumbling empire and a lot of speculation about a secret vault containing much of his gold.
Al Capone was well-known among Chicago residents for his generosity. He opened several soup kitchens in poor suburbs, provided milk rations to children to help fight a rickets epidemic, and often helped impoverished Italian-Americans. He also owned the Cotton Club, a notable spot for celebrities and local entertainment.