One of the Mafia's first meaningful roles in Hollywood came in the mid-1930s, when Bugsy Siegel took control of the extras union and began to extort money from studios. Moviegoers also began to see life in the Mob depicted on the big screen in films such as 1932's "Scarface," which focused on violent gang warfare in Chicago and starred Paul Muni as the murderous racketeer Al Capone. Capone reportedly loved the gangster classic and presented director Howard Hawks with a miniature machine gun as thanks.
Capone's man on the Depression-era set was Puggy White, who proudly gave Hawks advice about how to make the film more realistic, perhaps even about the depiction of the St. Valentine's Day massacre.
More about Al Capone:
- Capone allegedly insulted a woman at a Brooklyn nightclub in 1917. Her brother took exception, slashing the gangster's face three times.
- Capone tried to hide the scarred side of his face when photographed, often calling the scars "war wounds." After rising to prominence as a gangster, the press called him Scarface, a nickname he intensely disliked.
- Criminal associates referred to Capone as the "Big Fellow." Friends knew him as "Snorky," a term that meant "spiffy" back in those days.