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The Unconditional Love of Mae Capone: Al Capone’s Wife

Behind every notorious figure is a lesser-known story: the story of the woman by his side, enduring and persevering — the Al Capone wife. Get acquainted with Mae Capone, her life away from the spotlight, and her character that silently influenced one of history's most infamous gangsters.
by Rob Gillham | Dec 19 2023
Al Capone Wife
Credits: Wikipedia

They say that behind every influential person is a strong supporter, and when it comes to one of history’s most notorious gangsters, Al Capone, this couldn’t be truer. Mae Capone, Al’s wife, was the woman who stood by amidst all the controversies that defined him.

In this article, we’ll delve into the life of the woman known as Al Capone’s wife, Mae Coughlin Capone, exploring her story and shedding light on her relationship with the notorious mob boss.

Meet Mae Coughlin: The Wife of Al Capone

In the large shadow cast by her infamous husband, Mae’s story remained largely untold for many years, yet her part in the Capone criminal empire and her intriguing life need acknowledgment. 

Born on April 11, 1897, as Mary “Mae” Josephine Coughlin, no one could predict her life’s extraordinary journey. Raised in Brooklyn, New York, in a working-class Irish immigrant family, Mae’s early life was quite ordinary.

After her father passed away, she left school at the age of 16 to work in a box factory to support her family.

The course of her life shifted when she met Alphonse Capone. Their beginnings are unclear, but regardless of how they met, they developed a bond and married on December 30, 1918.

Even though Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans were rivals at that time, it seems like Capone’s parents didn’t mind their son getting married. People think that Al’s parents likely approved of his choice, seeing an Irish spouse as a step up in the world.

Three weeks before their wedding, Mae gave birth to their only child, Albert Francis ‘Sonny’ Capone. Speculations about Mae later contracting syphilis from Al and his apparent sterility due to a congenital disability led to the couple never having more children despite trying. 

Even with Al’s widely reported infidelities, Mae remained loyal and steadfast. She adopted behaviors, even changing her appearance, but never got involved in Al’s businesses.

However, her loyalty and dedication persisted when Al was sentenced for tax evasion, with Mae regularly visiting him even when he was imprisoned in Alcatraz and writing constant letters.

Her personal life was enigmatic, mainly due to her avoidance of the media and paparazzi. While aware of Al’s nefarious activities, she led a life of ostensibly comfortable domesticity.

The opulence from Al’s illegal operations allowed Mae a life of relative luxury but also led her to live episodes of stress.

After his release from prison in 1939, Al’s health was severely compromised and Mae cared for him protectively, ensuring he received medical care while also shielding him from public scrutiny.

After Al’s passing in 1947, Mae’s life became reclusive and solitary. She sold their mansion, retreated from public view, and lived quietly until her passing in Florida on April 6, 1986. 

Al Capone’s Early Life and First Childhood Misconducts

Alphonse Capone, was born in 1899 in Brooklyn and remained a high-profile criminal figure in Chicago from 1925 to 1931. 

Capone’s parents arrived from Naples in 1893, and Al was the fourth of nine siblings. He quit school at 14 after reportedly striking a teacher.

He held several low-wage positions while being linked to two notorious young delinquents gangs in Brooklyn.

Al Capone’s Relation with Organized Crime and Rising Power

Later, Al joined the James Street Boys gang, led by his life-long mentor, Johnny Torrio. As a 16-year-old, he served in the Five Points gang and Frankie Yale’s saloon. 

Before turning 21, his criminal streak flared up with numerous violent incidents. Capone’s violent endeavors escalated, leading to his nickname: Scarface. Fearing retaliation, Capone was sent off to Chicago under Torrio’s protection.

Capone moved to Chicago in 1919 with his family, where Torrio looked after a large-scale brothel operation. When the local gang leader, Big Jim Colosimo, was killed — some say Capone or Yale might’ve done it — Torrio took over as the boss.

When Prohibition started, selling illegal alcohol, or bootlegging, became a good way to make money. Capone was suspected of committing several murders and revenge acts, but he always managed to escape the law.

This was either because the cases against him weren’t strong enough, or because there were no witnesses.

When Torrio retired, Capone took over, managing widespread gambling, prostitution, and bootlegging activities. Even though he faced many dangerous situations, Capone always stayed out of police reach. His net worth in 1927 was roughly $100 million.

In 1929, one of the bloodiest episodes happened under Capone’s lead – the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Seven members of a rival gang were killed.

That same year, Capone got a 10-month prison sentence because he was caught with a hidden gun.

In 1931, Capone was charged for not paying his taxes and for going against the laws that banned alcohol. He was found guilty on three counts, which got him 11 years in prison and some big fines.

He was sent to Atlanta Penitentiary in 1932 and later moved to Alcatraz in 1934.

The End Of A Crime Boss

Al Capone’s health declined, which led to him being released on November 16, 1939. He was taken to Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore for treatment of syphilis.

To show his thanks, Capone gave the hospital two cherry trees. In March 1940, he went back to his big house in Palm Island, Florida.

When a medicine called penicillin was widely made in 1942, his health got a little bit better. But, his brain had already suffered permanent damage.

By 1946, doctors said that Capone’s mind was like a 12-year-old’s. He spent the rest of his life in Florida with his wife and grandchildren.

In January 1947, he had a sudden stroke, which was the start of his final decline. After a brief recovery, he got pneumonia and then he died in January 25, 1947.

His body was flown back to Chicago for a private funeral, and he was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery. In 1950, his remains were moved to Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. That’s where he now rests next to his father, Gabriele, and brother, Frank.

Son Of A Gangster: Sonny Capone  

Albert Francis Capone, often known as Sonny, was a figure of speculation. With Capone’s syphilis rumored to cause sterility, Sonny’s birth was shrouded in mystery.

Yet, Al Capone’s devoted care for his son, particularly during Sonny’s severe mastoid infection, was strikingly evident. 

While entangled in illicit trade discussions, Al Capone ensured Sonny lived a respectable life. Educated at the top-tier St. Patrick School in Florida, Sonny befriended future “I Love Lucy” co-creator Desi Arnaz

After Al Capone’s death, Sonny broke away from his father’s notorious criminal legacy. He first lived in Florida and then sought peace in California, and his only criminal conviction was for petty theft in 1965.

In 1966, he changed his name into Albert Francis Brown, to separate from Al’s reputation. He lived up to 85 before he passed away on July 8, 2004.

Every character in history has a story that goes beyond their public persona, and Mae Capone is no different. A woman strong in conviction, she stood by her husband through his criminal activities his most challenging moments.

If you want to delve deeper into the life of Al Capone and other notorious gangsters during thre 20th century, the book Killing the Mob on Blinkist provides an enlightening read. Remember, you can enjoy a free 7-day trial on Blinkist to read this book and explore a diverse world of knowledge.

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