By Matt Goldstein
Leader of the Chicago outfit and mentor of Al Capone, Johnny “The Fox” Torrio is credited for creating the bootlegging empire that Capone would takeover and expand. Torrio was also heavily influential in creating the Commission with Luciano and Lansky and a close ally of the Genovese family. At the beginning of Prohibition, Torrio’s boss, Jim Colosimo, refused to smuggle booze figuring it would bring too much heat from the Feds. Torrio had Colosimo murdered in his own restaurant, as portrayed on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire at the end of episode 1. This assassination opened the flood gates for Torrio and Capone to become bootlegging legends.
1884 – With his mother, Torrio immigrates to NYC at the age of 2.
1900 – Torrio becomes a lieutenant in the Five Points Gang under Paul Kelly.
1912 – Al Capone takes a position as a bouncer at Torrio’s Brothel in Brooklyn, NY.
1915 – Jim Colosimo offers Torrio a job in Chicago and Capone follows.
1919 – Colosimo refuses to operate in smuggling booze. Frankie Yale travels from NYC to assassinate Colosimo at the behest of Torrio.
1920 – Torrio attempts to set up a cooperative gang/mafia syndicate in Chicago. It works to an extent, but is never fully realized.
1920’s — Torrio battles with Hymie Weiss and Dion O’bannon after Torrio is allegedly ripped off in a brewery deal. O’bannon is apparently assassinated over the deal.
1923 – Torrio & Capone move their gang outside of Chicago city limits because of political and police pressure.
1925 – Johnny Torrio steps down and appoints Capone as the boss. Torrio still advises Capone and Capone goes to war with any gang that won’t cooperate.
1925 — Hymie Weiss sends hit men after Torrio, who nearly dies from shotgun fire. Capone orders 30 bodyguards to watch over Torrio in the hospital.
1925 — Johnny Torrio retires from the Chicago outfit and leaves everything to Al Capone. A multi millionaire 10 times over, Torrio moves back to Brooklyn and lives a relatively quiet life, sometimes counseling Capone, Luciano, Vito Genovese and Nucky Johnson.
1926 – Capone has Hymie Weiss assassinated in broad daylight on the street with machines guns and shotguns.
1929 – The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre becomes the most infamous gangland murders in history. On February 14th, Capone’s men disguise themselves as police and enter the Bugs Moran warehouse headquarters. Seven members of the North Side Gang are lined up against the wall and executed.
1930 — Torrio attends the Atlantic City conference to serve as an advisor.
1957 — Torrio dies of a heart attack in a Brooklyn barber shop.
Boardwalk Empire Fact or Fiction: Nucky Thompson, Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Al Capone