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Origins of the Scars
The Detroit Free Press ran an exclusive claiming to know how Capone got his scars. Just one of the many versions that proved unfounded.
This one claiming Al got into a fight after a fellow gang member threw liquor on his favorite blue tie.
Many versions of this story has been told over the years. Everything from the scars being received after a battle in France during World War one, to a jealous lover, to a beer hall fight. Some players in the story change from fellow gang member or from insult to a sister or a girlfriend. Most are denied or unfounded. The more plausible Galluccio reference first hits the newspapers in 1938.
The years offered for the scarring incident vary anywhere from 1917, 1923, 1925.
Looking at the police records it is more than likely this happened in 1919, when Galluccio and Capone both have arrest records for assault and fighting. Photos of Al Capone in 1917 show no scars.
All we have are handed down accounts of the story. The facts are this; Capone was indeed scarred, the exact story and legend will always be up for scrutiny. As one story stated, if it continues to evolve, then one day it will become solar.
First newspaper mention of Galluccio in connection with Al Capone's scars.
Al Capone would like to refer to those nasty marks on the left side of his face as a result of fighting in the lost Battalion back in France during World War 1. Here is a widely accepted account on the origins of Al Capone's scars.
Al Capone with that look when a photographer gets his wrong side.
Back in 1917* young burly Al Capone was working at the Harvard Inn on Coney Island for Frankie Yale.
Frankie Yale was a mob boss in New York.
On one particular evening back in 1917*, a New York hood by the name of Frank Galluccio entered the dance hall/ speakeasy with his sister Lena and his date by the name of Maria Tanzio. (Could be his girlfriend, sister or any female with a hot posterior at the time of this event).
Al Capone was a supposed bouncer/waiter at the Inn.
Al noticed Galluccio's young sister, girlfriend etc.. and began smiling at her. The said woman became annoyed and embarrassed at Capone's constant staring that she asked her Galluccio to kindly ask Capone to stop it. Frank was just about to ask Capone to stop when Capone leans over to her and tells her "Honey, you got a nice ass and I mean that as a compliment, believe me"
Frank hears this, and goes ballistic. He quickly tells Capone that he won't take this shit from anybody and demands that Capone apologize immediately to his woman companion or else.
Al tells Frank with his arms extended "Come on buddy, I'm only joking"
Galluccio responds "This is no fucking joke! " Capone at this moment stops smiling and comes charging at Galluccio who quickly takes out a pocket knife and slashes Capone three times.
He aimed for the neck, but got his face instead as Galluccio had several drinks that evening.
Capone required up to 30 stitches at Coney island hospital. After the incident, Galluccio had a sitdown with the New York bosses. Capone was called upon and warned by the underworld not to attempt retribution for that slashing as Capone was at fault for insulting Galluccio's companion. Capone agreed and apologized for insulting Galluccio and his female companion. Galluccio did feel bad for scarring Al, but did what he felt was right in protecting a woman's honor.
A 1928 story suggested Al was mistaken as a squealer during his time in Brooklyn which caused his scars from a vengeful fellow gang member.
Al later told reporters his scars were acquired from the great war or from some barber as a young child.
In January 1931, after many years of being evasive, Al Capone finally admitted that the great war shrapnel was a dud. The timeline of his supposed war duty did not add up. He was registered, but the war was over before Al was ever called up.
To conceal his scars Al applied talcum powder everyday to soften the glow of those scars and always preferred to take photos on his right side. His 3 scars were as follows;
One oblique scar of 4" across cheek 2" in front of left ear
One vertical scar of 2 and a half inches on left jaw
One oblique scar of 2 and a half inches 2 "under left ear on neck.
(Blown up mugshot photo of Al Capone at Terminal Island 1939)
3 scars noted and detailed on Capone's Atlanta Penitentiary file 1932.
Some unscrupulous newspapers and magazines even made his scars seem bigger to make Capone look more ruthless. Newspapermen dubbed him Scarface, but none of them would dare say it to his face.
Capone hated the ugly look of his scars even though they helped his persona
of being a tough guy.
Capone's favorite pose without scars.
Capone hiding his scars with a handkerchief.
Two same photos notice how the scars become more apparent in second retouched photo.
(Comparison taken from Bill Helmer's book Public enemies).
May 22, 1930, newspapers reported that Al was seeking a new treatment to eliminate his scars. Al himself told reporters those rumors were false. Although Al hated his nickname "scarface" I'm sure they helped build his aura around most people. It was good P.R. to get what he wanted.
As for Frank Galluccio, he was married and used barber as his profession. He died around 1966 and is buried in St. John Cemetary in Queens, New York.
New York Times March 28, 1940.
In 1964, a man named Dominick Cervadoro claimed to be a friend and client of Al's father (Gabriele) said he used to visit the Capone family barber shop. One day he claimed that Capone came running in with the side of his face bleeding. He had been in a knife fight at school. His story had many holes in it though, like Al's father dying of tuberculosis and Al working as a private cop.
In London, England 1968, a new fad was out. Looking like Al with a simulated fake scar was all the rage. For a short time. Wonder what Al would have thought of that?
His family never really questioned him personally about the scars. It wasn't the proper thing to do. Mae's relatives told me they were told that it was indeed a bar fight but there was no knife involved. The cutting object was a broken bottle. This makes more sense as I do not think Galluccio would have had the time to get three slashes in on Capone, who by that time would have been enraged after the first initial slash. A three pronged broken bottle would have been most likely the weapon indeed!
First Posted February 2004