SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The grandniece of one of America’s most notorious gangsters made a pilgrimage Wednesday to Alcatraz to see the cell that once held public enemy number one.
“He has been depicted as a monster. He was a mobster, but not a monster,” said Deirdre Marie Capone, reflecting on growing up with Alphonse Gabriel ‘Al’ Capone as she signed copies of her new book, Uncle Al Capone: the Untold Story from Inside His Family.
KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:
It took Deirdre Marie 71 years to make it to Alcatraz and get a first hand look at the 5-foot by 9-foot cell that once held an uncle she remembers as a big teddy bear who sang opera and taught her to swim.
She said Capone smelled of lavender.
“I can still smell his smell. You know, first it was mixed with cigars. He used to blow smoke rings out of the cigar and I would catch them on my finger,” she said.
Listen to Doug Sovern’s complete interview with Deirdre Marie Capone:
That image is at odds with the violent crime boss portrayed by Robert De Niro in The Untouchables. That fictionalized account won Sean Connery an Oscar for best supporting actor in 1987.
But Deirdre Marie Capone and her family suffered the burden of growing up Capone.
Al Capone died on her 7th birthday. And her father committed suicide just before she turned 11.
Though ensuing generations of Capones have been model citizens, for years, Deirdre Marie Capone lived under a different name.
She waited to tell her four children about their notorious ancestor.
“It too everything I had because I thought they were going to hate me. So I mustered all my strength. I’m a Capone. I’ve got a lot of strength,” she said.
Revealing her real name got exactly the opposite reaction.
“These four kids looked at each other, looked back at me. In unison, they looked at me and went, ‘Cool, mom!’”
Today Deirdre Marie resides in Florida retired from a successful audio book business. She said she’s glad to finally share her story and get out from under the burden of her uncle’s notoriety.
For more information:
“Uncle Al Capone”
Toll free number: (855) ALCAPONE or (855) 252-2766
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