Al Capone, the notorious American gangster, continues to captivate the public’s imagination with his criminal exploits. Among the many questions surrounding his life, the topic of Al Capone’s health, particularly his alleged contraction of syphilis, is a subject of intrigue. Let’s explore the circumstances surrounding Al Capone and his battle with syphilis.

Al Capone, a notorious American mobster of the Prohibition Era

Did Al Capone really get Syphilis?

The claim that Al Capone suffered from syphilis is rooted in historical accounts, but its authenticity is not without controversy. According to records, Capone was indeed diagnosed with syphilis during his imprisonment at Alcatraz in the early 1930s.

Al Capone after his arrest by the Chicago Police Department in 1931 (above), which would lead to a six-month jail sentence for contempt of court

Syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum, can have severe consequences if left untreated.

Why did Al Capone get Syphilis?

Understanding how Al Capone contracted syphilis requires a closer look at his lifestyle. Capone, known for his flamboyant and hedonistic lifestyle, engaged in activities that put him at risk for sexually transmitted infection. The illicit affairs, multiple partners, and a lack of preventive measures were contributing factors to Al Capone’s eventual diagnosis.

It’s essential to consider the historical context of the early 20th century, where awareness of safe practices was limited, and the consequences of sexually transmitted infections were not fully understood. Al Capone’s high-risk behavior during a time when healthcare and education on such matters were less advanced likely played a significant role in his contraction of syphilis.

The exact details on why and when are marred by rumors. Online discussion forums allege that Al Capone contracted syphilis when he was a bouncer in a brothel.

How did Al Capone die?

Al Capone’s life took a dramatic turn as he battled not only rival gangs but also his deteriorating health. Syphilis, if left untreated, can lead to severe neurological complications, affecting various organs and systems in the body. Capone’s decline was evident during his imprisonment, where the effects of syphilis took a toll on his physical and mental well-being.

Al Capone’s alleged mercury struggles

According to Al Capone’s great niece, Deirdre Capone, the leading cause behind the severe deterioration of Al Capone’s mental health was mercury.

Ms. Capone said they took him to a hospital on Terminal Island, Los Angeles, to treat his syphilis infection but once Al Capone came back, he was a different man.

Deirdre told the Sun:

“That is the first time that you will find any press at all that Al Capone became angry and violent and they had to put him in solitary confinement.

And it’s because they were injecting my uncle with mercury because they thought mercury could cure syphilis. 

If you read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, you know what mercury does to the human brain. It causes insanity. That’s exactly what happened to my uncle.”

She explained that her grandfather, Ralph Capone Senior, agreed to let medical staff try out the ‘new treatment’ on Al Capone.

Deirdre Capone, Al Capone’s great-niece

In November 1939, when Al Capone was released from the hospital, his family threw him a ‘big party’ but he couldn’t remember who his relatives were.

Deirdre added:

“They said Al would go around to his own sister and say ‘Who are you?’ then he would go somebody else and then he’d come back to his sister and say ‘Who are you again?’

My grandfather knew there was something wrong. So they took him and they put him in the hospital at Baltimore, Maryland where he was treated by a psychiatrist.”

When did Al Capone die?

In 1947, Al Capone succumbed to a heart attack, marking the end of an era for organized crime in America. While syphilis may not have directly caused his death, its impact on his health undoubtedly played a role in the rapid deterioration of his overall well-being.

Graphic Novel Exploring Al Capone’s Legacy

Al Capone’s life and the shadow of syphilis that loomed over his final years continue to be a topic of historical fascination. His legacy as a crime boss, and the intrigue surrounding his personal life, ensures that the narrative of Al Capone remains a compelling chapter in American history.

For those interested in exploring Al Capone’s story further, consider the graphic novel ‘Al Capone’ by Swann Meralli and artist PF Radis, who bring to life the enigmatic figure and the events that shaped his tumultuous existence.

Al Capone Cover
Buy Al Capone

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and does not replace professional medical advice. Readers are encouraged to seek guidance from healthcare professionals for accurate information on syphilis and related health matters.