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Daily Archives: March 6th, 2011

Staten Islander's John and William Balsamo are the authors of the new book 'Young Al Capone: The Untold Story of Scarface in New York, 1899-1925.' (Skyhorse Publishing).

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Much has been written about the life of  Al Capone, the infamous Chicago gangster known as Scarface. In their new book, two Staten Island brothers delve into Alphonse “Scarface Al Capone’s early life focusing on his upbringing on the streets of Brooklyn. By Andrea Boyarsky for

For “Young Al Capone: The Untold Story of Scarface in New York, 1899-1925” (Skyhorse Publishing), William and John Balsamo spoke to people associated with Capone — including the man responsible for giving him the famous moniker — in what they believe is the first book of its type.

“It was our family heritage that got some people to open up to us,” said John Balsamo of Huguenot, noting that many of their sources are now deceased.

He continued, “No one else can do this. They would have to talk to gravesites if they wanted answers. We were lucky to be in the right place at the right time.”

The brothers are related to Batista Balsamo, a man generally regarded as the first godfather of Brooklyn, along with Giuseppe Balsamo, also known as Count Allessandro Di Cagliostro, an 18th century alchemist and mystic who may have been associated with the Sicilian Mafia.

The Balsamos — William, 71, and John, 73 — also grew up in Brooklyn around members of the Mafia and made friends during their days working at the Brooklyn waterfront.

Their talks about Capone originally started as a hobby, conversations with “old-timers” at weddings and family events, and once they realized how much information had accumulated, decided to turn it into a book.

The interviews date back to the late 1950s. William Balsamo, who now lives in Midland Beach, recalls meeting with Frank Galluccio, the man who scarred Scarface. It was 1959 — a year before Galluccio died — and the 5-foot-2 blue-eyed man with a fair complexion and slender build recounted how he cut the 5-foot-10 around 240 pound Capone.

“The fight with Galluccio was over his younger sister, who Capone had insulted,” William Balsamo said of the encounter in a Coney Island bar. “Galluccio took out a knife, trying to get at his jugular but he was so drunk that he missed.”

John Balsamo also recalled his interviews with a 97-year-old woman who lived across the street from Capone when he was a boy. He also knew Capone’s childhood friend, Gido Bianco, who told stories about the gangster’s early life.

The book reads more like a work of fiction than a biography with flowing prose that includes Capone’s conversations. The book just turned out this way, the Balsamos said, noting that all the conversations are based in fact although they took some author’s license with them.

Through the years, the brothers also did research on Capone, frequenting libraries and reading old copies of the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper to find out little facts such as the weather on a particular day.

There are also photos in the book, including those of Capone and his associates and rivals, the houses in Brooklyn where he lived, his baptism certificate and the elementary school that he dropped out from in the sixth grade.

The brothers don’t have plans to write other biographies, although they would love to see the book turned into a film with Leonardo DiCaprio playing the young Capone. They also hope that readers take something new about the gangster away from their book.

“Capone is the most infamous gangster, the most celebrated gangster in the world,” William Balsamo commented. “Everyone has heard of Alphonse Capone.”

 Read Here  Click here: Staten Island’s Balsamo brothers tell ‘Untold Story of Scarface’ |  

Related Video Al Capone “Scarface” Documentary Part 1/4