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

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (9)
  1. Luigi says:

    I’m sure Hitler’s family loved him too and didn’t think he was a monster either.

  2. Tami Principe says:

    Al Capone had helped so many, it’s the good things that you hardly hear about. It was during the Great Depression that he helped those that were hungry and needed things.

  3. mary Sue says:

    Every human being has their good and bad. Deidre is writing from her perspective; the Uncle that she knew and loved. His other side didn’t affect her life.

    She is just giving you her side of the story. From a chld’s view of a loving uncle.

    It’s like other ganster movies, The Godfather, they were one person outside of the home and the loving Italian father inside the home.

    Give Deidre a break.

  4. Tony Nap Napoli says:

    Congrads on your new book Uncle Al Capone a great story and shows the compassion side of the man

  5. Bill Krueger says:

    The Capone’s were hard working immigrants who saw opportunities and seized them. Al never lied about his occupation as a bootlegger/gangster unlike Joe Kennedy who did the same and worse. AL Capone did alot to help those in need and provided for thousands of politicians and police. Al Capone never denied what he did unlike the shysters who took his money and then persecuted him. I would gladly take Al Capone over the real gangsters, Obama, Blago, Daley, Stroger, and Rahm! . The Catholic church was very happy to take Capone money as well. Dierdre is a lovely person. She tells her story and we should listen. The media tells lies while families suffer. Dierdre tells it the way it was and is. All best wishes to you and your family.


    Hey Deirdre!! You have a great book out and I support you in all you doing!! Too bad I could not have joined you at Alcatraz….I am sure it was one heck of an experience!! Keep up the great work!

  7. Dusty Rhoades says:

    I have listen to all accounts of the life of Al Capone and with all the books written, news print etc. I feel i have a good immage of the man himself also by the few viideos, pictures there is information that many people over look. Maybe one day I will write a book of facts from all the information I have grathered in the past 40 plus years I’ve been a gangstra buff.

  8. ERIC BURNS says:


  9. Marc Johnston says:

    Ha! First of all, get the damn story straight! She is not Capone’s niece!!! She’s his great niece! Anyone who thinks she is the last living Capone is very sadly mistaken. She’s trying to hog this glory all to herself by claiming she is the last? Give me a break! There are many Capones out there related to big Al ,even closer than Madame Deirdre Griswold, but they have a bit more class than her by keeping their yaps shut. Wonder why Madame Griswold didn’t write her tell all book when Mafalda, Ralph or her mother was alive? Probably because they and Mafalda would have slapped her for doing such a thing. The things people do to see their kisser on a book. This book is lame!

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