How did Capone die? Is Tom Hardy’s titular gangster true to life? Let’s recount the death of the man in and behind the movie now streaming on Netflix.

What is your favourite Tom Hardy performance?

The 43-year-old English actor is arguably one of the most celebrated and popular amongst general audiences today.

He has turned in acclaimed work across the likes of Locke, The Revenant, The Dark Knight Rises, Legend, Warrior, Bronson… it would perhaps be far too easy to go on.

On the other hand, one of his most notable screen turns comes courtesy of Josh Trank’s Capone.

This biographical crime-drama from the director of Chronicle and Fantastic Four stars Tom in the titular role, portraying the notorious gangster at a time in his life rarely explored in film and television.

Since the film’s recent arrival on Netflix, audiences have grown curious. So, how did Al Capone die?

Photo by Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

How did Capone die?

  • Al Capone went into cardiac arrest in 1947 after suffering a stroke. Three days after his cardiac arrest, he passed away at home from internal bleeding, known as apoplexy.

The 2020 movie Capone details that he died as a result of complications from syphilis in January 1947 at the age of 48. Indeed, the dates are correct and Capone’s health was in decline because of a late stage of syphilis – known as paresis – ahead of his death.

Reflecting on his life prior, “Scarface” – as he was nicknamed – was indicted for 22 counts of federal income-tax evasion for the years 1925 through 1929; this was in June 1931.

Additionally, he was subsequently tried and found guilty on three counts, then sentenced to 11 years in prison and $50,000 in fines and court costs.

He was at Atlanta penitentiary from May 1932 but was transferred to the new Alcatraz prison in August 1934. However, it was in 1939 that he began being affected by paresis, so he was relocated to a hospital in Baltimore before retiring to his estate in Florida.

It is these years in retirement which the 2020 film serves to explore.

Capone: Neurosyphilis explained

As touched upon, it was while serving his sentence that Capone was diagnosed with syphilis, along with gonorrhoea.

However, it was following his transfer to Alcatraz that he began to exhibit a number of symptoms such as disorientation. After his health continued to deteriorate, he was officially diagnosed with neurosyphilis in 1938.

This refers to the infection of the central nervous system in a syphilis patient and is a disease that affects the brain, the coverings of the brain, or the spinal cord.

Men’s Health notes that, in 1942, Capone was one of the first Americans to receive the antibiotic penicillin as a treatment for syphilis after the drug was mass-produced. While this helped to slow the disease, the damage to his brain could not be reversed.

A year before his death in 1947, he was deemed to have the mental capabilities of a 12-year-old by experts. In the year of his passing, he also contracted a form of pneumonia.

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