Chicago Tribune reporter James O’Donnell Bennett named Capone quite a lot of things in his 1929 article about Chicago’s chief gangster. As Bennett says, he “…is Alphonse Capone, alias Al Brown. He is also called, by those who wish to speak respectfully of him, ‘the Big Fellow.’ But those who are not solicitous of his favor sometimes call him ‘Scarface Al.’ They do not do that in his presence, for he is a man of wild and frightening rushes of temper.” Here are a few other names that Al went by:
- Alphonsus Gabriel Capone: This was the name he was born with, of course. However, it seems to have been rarely used, even by close family, who found it easier to call him “Al” or “Alphonse,” according to family memoirs like Uncle Al. It doesn’t seem to have been used by reporters much either, even when everyone knew who he was. Biographers and encyclopedias are the only ones who seem to use it today.
- Al: The simplest nickname of the bunch, it was used by friends and family alike. The public knew him as “Al” too. If you lived in Chicago when he was in power and someone talked about Al, you could be pretty sure that they only meant one person…
- Snorky: Slang for an elegant, sharp dresser. Though this nickname was only really used by close friends, it was no secret that Al loved fine clothes. As soon as he could afford it, Al always made sure he was the best-dressed one in the room. At his 1931 trial for tax evasion, he’d would routinely show up in brightly colored, flashy suits in ice-cream hues, like pale lavender or soft canary yellows. Al wasn’t the only one in The Outfit who dressed well, either. If you were part of Capone’s gang, the Boss insisted you dressed the part: each man was expected to wear a spotless gray fedora and nice suits and shoes.
- Al Brown: Capone’s most common alias when doing business for the Outfit. Newspapers sometimes referred to him this way as well, especially before he rose to power as the head of the South Side gang. He admitted at his 1931 trial that some people called him Al Brown, but that “wasn’t his name.”
- Albert Costa: According to Schoenberg’s biography Mr. Capone, this name was used to sign checks to buy real estate in Florida, including his huge mansion in Florida at 93 Palm Beach Avenue.
- Caponi: Amazingly, even at the height of his power, some newspapermen still couldn’t be bothered to spell Capone’s last name right. As Schoenberg said in his biography Mr. Capone, some newspapermen just didn’t care: “the Tribune of Col. Robert Rutherford McCormick did not need anybody to tell it how anything should be spelled”—and kept deliberately misspelling it as late as 1928, when Al had already become world-famous.
- The Big Fellow, the Big Shot, or the Big Guy: As reporter Bennett noted, these were terms of respect used by friends, acquaintances, and newspaper men. They were ways to refer to Al without using his name directly—pretty useful for those in his line of work. 😉
- Scarface: Al’s most famous nickname. The newspapers loved its sensational aspect and used it indiscriminately, but people used it to his face at their peril. He really hated it when people called him that.
Do you know any other aliases for Al Capone? Post them in the Comments section below and I’ll add them to this list! 🙂