The mobster wasn’t scared of anyone, except a ghost named ‘Jimmy.’
Al Capone feared no living thing — only the unliving. The deadliest mobster in America spent the later years of his life in extreme fear of a ghost named Jimmy.
Let’s go back five or six steps to look at this incredible story.
The Origins Of Al Capone
Scarface grew up a poor kid in Brooklyn. His parents were immigrants from Naples and true to Italian tradition at the time, raised a whopping number of children. Nine, to be exact.
Here’s hoping that the other eight didn’t give them as much troubles as little Al. He was kicked out of school at the age of 14 for hitting a teacher in the face. In his defense, teachers at the time were not tolerant of immigrant children, and often used physical punishment on them. Al’s teacher hit him, and he hit right back.
After being expelled from school, Capone joined two street gangs: the Brooklyn Rippers and the Forty Thieves Juniors. It was the start of one of the most infamous crime careers of all time. By the time he died, Capone had earned $100 million from his assorted racketeering operations, which included bootlegging, prostitution and gambling.
But he’s perhaps most infamous for the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, which plays into the story of the ghost, Jimmy.
Be My Valentine, Mo*%#r F*^%*r$
If you need a quick refresher on the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, here ya go.
Some guys employed by the notorious gangster George “Bugs” Moran are at work at Bugs’s bootlegging headquarters on Chicago’s North Side. Some police officers appear, supposedly to arrest them, but end up shooting seven of Bugs’s men dead. The officers turn out to have been gangsters in disguise.
Capone was never convicted of ordering the killings, but it’s generally understood that he was the one who ordered the murders, since Bugs was his arch rival.
Got it? Great! Here’s where Jimmy comes in. One of the guys who was killed that day was named James “Jimmy” Clark. You won’t find much information on him, but he was a low-ranking mobster that worked for (and was brother-in-law to) Bugs.
Unfortunately, he earned much more notoriety in his death than he ever did living.
Capone Goes To Jail & Things Get SPOOKY
Capone was never sent to jail for murder, but for carrying a concealed weapon. His cell at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia was extremely well furnished and even decorated. However, Al was pretty convinced there were two people occupying the one-bed cell. This marked the beginning of his haunting. Capone was miserable and would shout out at night for “Jimmy” to leave him alone. The other prisoners heard him screaming out at night and even having conversations with someone.
When Capone was released, he hoped Jimmy would stay behind. But wherever Al, went Jimmy went, too. It was like the world’s least fun odd couple. Eventually Al ordered a physic to try to get Jimmy to leave him alone. The plan, you may not be surprised to hear, didn’t work.
Al’s fear of Jimmy eventually became so great that his bodyguards would often rush into his room at night thinking he was under attack, only to find Scarface alone and terrified.
It was the beginning of the end for his sanity.
Capone (And Jimmy) Go To Alcatraz
Here’s where it gets interesting (OK — more interesting). Capone is convicted again — this time for tax evasion — and gets sent to prison in Atlanta and then transferred to Alcatraz. By this time he’s suffering from syphilis. He’d known he had syphilis for quite some time, but was too embarrassed to seek treatment.
Without getting too graphic, here’s a quick syphilis rundown. It starts with a sore on your genitals. The second stage is a body rash. Then the syphilis “disappears.” In reality, it’s boring its way into your major organs, often the heart, liver and brain.
For over a decade the syphilis made its way into Al Capone’s brain and made him certifiably nuts. Beyond just screaming at his ghost enemy Jimmy, his behavior became so bizarre they released him on “good behavior.” It turns out you can escape Alcatraz. You just have to let an STD destroy your brain.
Capone, A Ghost & Syphilis Say Goodnight
Capone passed away at his Palm Island Estate in 1947 at the age of 48. Those that believe in such things can be sure that Jimmy was with him till the very end. We will never know if Al Capone was truly haunted, or if he suffered severe hallucinations from his nuerosyphilis.
I suppose all that matters is that Al thought he was haunted, so in the end, Jimmy Clark got his revenge.