We know quite a bit about the late mobster Al Capone, but did you know he was married? His wife remains a bit of a mystery to many and with good reason.
Which one of this infamous couple died first? Did Mrs. Capone know who her husband really was? Did she approve?
Find out everything you need to know about Mrs. Alphonse Capone in today’s article.
Who Did Al Capone Love & Who Was His Wife?
While no one knows the heart of Al Capone, it did appear that he loved his wife and son.
Al Capone married Mary Josephine “Mae” Coughlin on December 30, 1918. He was 19, and she was 21, but both lied on the marriage certificate and said that they were 20 years old.
This was Capone’s only marriage, and Mary Josephine Capone had one child, a boy, three weeks before the wedding. While the couple tried to have other children, every pregnancy ended in a stillbirth or a miscarriage.
Capone could have divorced Mae and married another woman with whom he would try to have children, but he didn’t. He also could have had children with other women out of wedlock, but he didn’t.
This would leave one to assume that Al Capone truly loved his wife Mae. While he may not have been faithful to her, he allowed her a great deal of freedom and even access to cash, giving her the freedom to decorate the houses he bought as she saw fit, regardless of cost.
Where Did Al Capone Meet His Wife?
This area of Capone’s life is a big foggy.
Some say that Capone first met Mae at a social club in Brooklyn, New York. We know that Capone’s mother knew Mae from their local church, and some say that she arranged their first date believing that a good Catholic woman would be beneficial to her son.
Capone already had the scars on his face that would give him the lifelong nickname of “Scarface”. He hated that name, but Mae didn’t seem to mind the scars.
Regardless how this pair first met, everyone agrees that it was love at first sight. Al Capone, the nastiest gangster who ever lived, wrote Mae many love letters.
Despite their differences (Al Capone was Italian, and Mae was Irish), the two fell in love, married in less than 2 years, and had a son that Capone doted on.
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Didn’t Mae Capone Know Who Her Husband Was and What He Did?
Chances are that Mae knew some of what her husband was involved in but probably not all of it.
While the wives of other mobsters wrote books about being married to a bootlegger, Mae Capone did not. In fact, Mae made it a point to stay out of the spotlight.
When her husband was sent to prison for tax evasion, Mae went to see Al regularly, as well as write him letters. When he was transferred across the country, Mae would travel from Florida to California, often incognito, or she would go to great lengths to hide her face from the press.
Mae did know that Capone was not faithful to her. She told her son (Albert Francis Capone, known to everyone as Sonny) to “not do what your father did- he broke my heart.” However, that knowledge wasn’t enough to make her leave her husband. Mae Capone remained loyal and stayed with Al Capone till the very end.
As the wife of an Italian gangster, Mae most likely read about some of his exploits in the local paper. Whether she believed what was printed or didn’t care, the public will never know.
Before her death, Mae Capone burned all the diaries she’d written, as well as all the love letters she and Al had written over the years.
What Happened to Al Capone’s Wife After His Death?
Before his arrest and conviction, Capone owned three homes- one in Brooklyn, New York, one in Chicago, and another in Florida. Mae preferred the house in Florida, and when Capone was released from prison, she took him there.
Mae stayed in the house after Al Capone died, although she would not go into the bedroom that they shared as a couple. She told one of her granddaughters that she had wonderful memories of the good times she had with Capone, and now that he was gone, she didn’t want to go to that room anymore.
She lived alone in the mansion for more than 30 years, but her son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren often visited her.
Mae Capone’s Emotional Toll of Being Married to a Notorious Criminal
Mae’s daughter-in-law said that Mae seemed to die after Al Capone’s death. She wouldn’t eat in the dining room, she refused to go to the second floor of the mansion. She covered most of the furniture with sheets and lived a very quiet life.
Mae Capone died in a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida, at the age of 89. It is assumed that she took penicillin for the syphilis that she got from Capone.
The Miami Beach mansion, which spans more than 7,000 square feet, was sold in 2021 for $15.5 million. 100 years earlier, Capone had purchased the estate for $40,000.
What Happened to Al Capone’s Son?
Al Capone’s son, Albert Francis “Sonny” Capone, lost his hearing in one ear after a mastoid infection. Sonny was a sickly child, and Mae took great pains to ensure that he received the best possible care.
It’s not known if this deafness was due to Mae having syphilis when Sonny was born.
Sonny married three times and had four daughters with his first wife. Sonny obviously tried to distance himself from his father’s business. He graduated from Miami College but only held down a few odd jobs. Honest jobs but nothing substantial despite his degree.
After his father’s death, Sonny legally changed his name from Capone to Brown. It’s not known what his mother thought of this and whether Sonny believed that changing his name would help him in life.
It doesn’t appear that Sonny took any money from his father’s estate. He appeared to want to make his own way and live on what he earned.
Sonny passed away in 2004 at the age of 85.
Did Mae Get Syphilis from Her Husband?
It’s very likely that Mae did indeed get syphilis from her husband Al Capone, but it’s not clear exactly when this happened.
Although Capone had been working as a bouncer for a brothel since he was quite young, he tried to live the straight life when he met Mae. Capone worked for a time at a box factory.
Whether he have already had syphilis at that time or got it later on isn’t clear.
It seems that Capone gave Mae syphilis, and this was the cause behind Sonny’s health problems as well as Mae’s inability to have more children.
Capone was not officially diagnosed with advanced syphilis until he went to prison. When he was released, Mae sought out treatment for her husband immediately. It makes sense that the doctor who tried to treat Al Capone would have told her that she most likely was infected and that he would give her penicillin as well.
This would explain why Mae lived to be 89. However, it was too late for her husband as the disease had progressed to his brain, causing dementia.
Final Thoughts on Mae Capone
Like many women, Mae Capone probably loved her husband and wanted to protect him, but she hated some of the things that he did.
Al Capone’s life isn’t much of a secret, although a few areas are foggy. Mae Capone’s life, however, is still shrouded in mystery since she burned all traces of their life together, said almost nothing to the press, and lived a very private life.
Written by Kerry Wisby – GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Owner & Founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Kerry Wisby, a former teacher with a BA in English, is the founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com. With a passion for all things 1920s, including The Great Gatsby novel, her website is the ultimate source for Roaring Twenties fashion, history, and party ideas. Read more about Kerry here.