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Video:Profile of Al Capone

with Omar Saad

Al Capone was one of the most notorious gangsters of the Prohibition era. Learn more about Al Capone, including his personal background and early life, and his eventual downfall.See Transcript

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Transcript:Profile of Al Capone

Hi I'm Omar Saad here for About.com and this is a profile of Al Capone.

 Who Was Al Capone? 

Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1899, Al Capone was the original gangster. He built an organized crime empire in Chicago during the Prohibition era of the 1920s, amassing enough wealth to be unofficially labeled the richest man in America in 1927. While his meteoric rise was unparalleled, his fall was equally swift. Let's take a closer look.

 Childhood of Al Capone 

Al Capone, the Brooklyn born son of Italian immigrants began a life of crime at an early age. Capone left school in the sixth grade and joined a notorious New York street gang whose members included Johnny Torrio, Capone's future mentor, and a fellow legend of the underworld, Lucky Luciano. With the passage of the Volstead Act in 1919, the Prohibition era was ushered in, marking a golden opportunity for gangsters such as Capone to build profitable bootlegging businesses.

 Early Rise of Al Capone  

 Around 1920 Capone came to Chicago at Torrio's invitation and shortly thereafter Torrio was running the Chicago Mob with Capone as one of his right hand men. The two steadily grew in influence and power as they took over most of the bootlegging operations in the city. They also ran a number of businesses that capitalized on vice, such as various clubs and brothels. In 1925 Torrio was critically injured in an assassination attempt and was forced to step down, vacating the head position for Capone.

 Al Capone at His Peak   

  With Capone the show the Chicago Mob proved brutal to its enemies and immensely profitable for those involved with it. Many estimates place the annual income of the organization while ran it at around $100,000,000 per year. In fact, as previously mentioned, in 1927 he was considered the richest man in America. During this period, Capone gained a reputation amongst the poor and downtrodden of Chicago as a hero, running soup kitchens and showing his generous side to the average citizen from time to time.

  Valentine's Day Massacre Orchestrated By Al Capone  

But it was also during this time that he brutally consolidated power, perhaps most notably in the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929. It was believed that Capone's men, dressed as cops, lined up 7 members of a rival gang, gunning them down in cold blood.

  Downfall of Al Capone  

Capone's run finally ended in 1931 when he was indicted for income tax evasion and numerous violations of the Volstead Act. He went on to serve the majority of his 11 year sentence at Alcatraz and was released a shell of his former self in 1939, suffering the effects of advanced neurosyphillis. He ultimately passed away in 1947 of a stroke. Capone's story is a fascinating one on many levels. He walked a dark path to being one of the richest men in America and was taken down by the law at the height of his power.

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