Irish Eye on Hollywood:
Al Capone’s Irish Gal

By Tom Deignan, Columnist
November/ December 2018

With Martin Scorsese’s Netflix epic The Irishman–about the hitman who supposedly whacked Jimmy Hoffa–slated for release next year, now comes word that Oscar-nominated tough guy Tom Hardy (Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road) has begun shooting a new Al Capone biopic, called Fonzo. From the streets to the bedroom, the Irish played a central role in the life of this Italian-American kingpin. Capone rose to prominence in 1920s Chicago during bloody Irish-Italian gang turf wars. Deanie O’Banion was killed in 1924 after crossing a Capone ally. And, of course, in February of 1929, Capone went gunning for Bugs Moran during the infamous St. Valentine’s Day massacre. Moran escaped, but Capone went on to become the Windy City’s top mob man.

But before all that came Capone’s marriage to Mae Coughlin, the daughter of Irish immigrants born in Capone’s native Brooklyn. Mae’s immigrant mother Bridget only wanted her daughter to marry a fellow Irish Catholic. As Capone biographer Deirdre Bair has written, “In the world of [Mae’s] church and her Irish culture, Italians were ‘colored,’ and never to be associated with.” But when Mae and Al did wed, Bridget made sure it was “not in (Capone’s) modest Italian parish…but in her…staunchly Irish” one, as Bair puts it.

Linda Cardellini (Freaks and Geeks, Mad Men) will play Mae Capone in Fonzo, which will also feature Matt Dillon, Kyle MacLachlan and Kathrine Narducci, when it is released next year. ♦

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