Charles 'Lucky' Lucciano, considered by many as the father of modern organised crime after organising 'The Syndicate' in 1931, which brought together each of the five bosses of American crime families in New York. Imprisoned in 1937, Lucciano cooperate with the American government due to his Italian connections during the Second World War, with his sentence being commuted in 1946 on the condition he did not resist deportation to Italy. Despite being deported he still remained active in mob business until his death in 1962. Jecinci /

By Tom Dare

A SERIES of newly colourised images bringing the chilling faces of some of America’s most notorious gangsters to life have been published for the first time today, on the 120th anniversary of Charles ‘Lucky’ Lucciano’s birth.

Striking pictures from the collection show the infamous Al Capone, nicknamed Scarface, at the Chicago Detective bureau following his arrest on a vagrancy charge in 1930, while other images see Lucky Lucciano relaxing with one of his dogs in 1955 following his deportation to Naples.

Perhaps the most famous face among the collection, Al ‘Scarface’ Capone was the ruthless boss of the Chicago crime syndicate, widely thought to be responsible for the execution of seven men in the ‘St Valentines Day Massacre’. He was arrested for tax evasion and imprioned in 1933, losing much of his power while behind bars, where he served time in Alcatraz. He was released in 1939, but subsequently became very ill, and died at his home in 1947. Jecinci /


Further shots show notorious criminal and bank robber John Dillinger following his arrest in September 1933, with a further picture showing Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel after he was taken in for questioning for the killing of chauffer Harry Schachter in Hollywood, California, in 1940.

The images, restored into full colour by colouriser Jecinci, were mostly taken from America’s prohibition era, a 13-year period between 1920 and 1933 which saw the emergence of organised crime as a real force after the Federal government banned the sale and purchase of alcohol.

Lucciano, Capone and Siegel were all prominent names associated with prohibition-era crime, as well as others such as Meyer Lansky, Johnny Torio, Mickey Cohen and Dutch Schultz.

Gerald Chapman led an early prohibition-era gang from 1919 to his death in 1926, when he was hanged for his crimes. Chapman was the first criminal to be widely labelled ‘Public Enemy Number One’ by the press. Jecinci /


Each of these characters featured in producer Martin Scorsese’s huge hit TV show Boardwalk Empire, a show set in prohibition era America which took an in depth look at the rise of organised crime throughout the twenties.

And Scorsese, who has also worked on hit gangster projects such as Goodfellas and Casino, believes that one of the main reasons for the rise of organised crime during this time was the introduction of prohibition.

“One of the things is that the good intentions of Prohibition, from reading over the years and from becoming obsessed with the research of gangs in New York City, seems to have allowed crime figures at the time, like Luciano, Capone, Torrio and Rothstein, to organise to become more powerful, which pulled all the way through until the ‘seventies,” he is quoted as saying.

Joe Gallo, a New York based gangster in the Profaci crime family who started the Columbo wars, one of the bloodiest conflicts in organised crime history. Joe was killed himself as a result of the ‘war’. Jecinci /


“During Prohibition, Atlantic City created the idea of the speakeasy, which turned into nightclubs and that extraordinary political complexity and corruption coming out of New Jersey at the time.

“The long hand that they had – and maybe still do – even had to do with presidential elections.”

Colourised pictures such as these are featured in author Michael D. Carroll’s new photo-book Retrographic, which is available to buy from Amazon for £16.85.

George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly, a prohibition-era gangster who operated out of Tennessee and gained his nickname from his weapon of choice. Jecinci /


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