Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Capones: Not Such a Happy Family

Once and a while, I read book release news that makes me heave a sigh of relief. And not because it's exciting news and I'm just dying to read a book on whatever topic.

Instead, it's usually because something has exploded--or crashed and burned--with a recently contracted title that I saw by submission, a title that I thankfully put it in the ole "NO" column.

For example, this upcoming memoir by Deirdre Marie Capone, the great-niece of the notorious mobster Al Capone.

According to the Wall Street Journal, it seems the memoir is causing quite the stir:

Deirdre Marie Capone, a great niece of Al Capone, spent years concealing her connection to the legendary mobster. Like a lot of his relatives, she used a different last name. She even kept the family tie hidden from her children.

Now the 70-year-old Florida grandmother plans to reveal what it was like to grow up a Capone. Her book, "Uncle Al Capone," will be published in the fall, she says.

"I sat on his lap, I felt his scar," Ms. Capone says. "How many historians who wrote about him ever heard his voice?"

One potential audience isn't eager to read her opus: the other Capones.

"I wouldn't read it if somebody bought it for me," says Theresa Hall, a granddaughter of Al Capone. Katherine Seal, 43, a great-granddaughter, says, "What is the benefit to all this, you have to ask oneself? He's been dead for 60 or 70 years. Why keep rehashing it?"

The book isn't the only thing dividing the Capone clan these days. Some relatives are up in arms about another author, Chris Knight Capone, who claims to be a grandson of Al.

The 38-year-old New Yorker filed a lawsuit in Chicago last year to have the mobster's remains exhumed so he can obtain genetic proof of his ancestry. Mr. Capone hired a ghostwriter and self-published a book, "Son of Scarface," in 2008.

Members of the Capone family long tried to keep a low profile, forgoing the opportunity to cash in on their infamous relative's name. Most live modest, middle-class lives. No living relative has been linked to organized crime. Al Capone, who died in 1947, left no will and no inheritance, family members say.

Now that some Capones—authentic or not—are going public with their stories, relatives are bickering. And money may be at stake. Deirdre Marie Capone says she intends to work with other relatives to set up a company to license rights to the Capone name and likeness in California, where state laws are favorable for asserting publicity rights for dead celebrities. Chris Knight Capone says he, too, would like to assert publicity rights. "I want to get what my family deserves," he says.

"He has absolutely no proof of anything he says," says Deirdre Marie Capone.

Says Chris Knight Capone: "My proof is my blood."


[Dierdre Marie Capone] says the work will show a different side of Al Capone. "When you have Capone blood in you and you see him portrayed as an absolute monster on films, it really makes you angry," she says.

Ms. Hall, a Californian whose late father, Albert "Sonny" Capone, was Al Capone's son, says she won't read it because she is furious about revelations in another book. In Get Capone, published this year by Simon & Schuster, author and former Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Eig cites Deirdre Marie Capone as claiming that Sonny Capone was the son not of Al Capone's wife, Mae, but of a young woman who died during childbirth.

"You probably could have stuck a knife in my heart," says Ms. Hall, who is in her fifties and knew Mae Capone as her grandmother. "It is totally, completely false."

Deirdre Marie Capone says she feels bad that Ms. Hall is upset. "I thought this was something that everybody in the family knew about," she says. Mr. Eig says he attributed the information to Deirdre Marie Capone, and Ms. Hall didn't talk to him, so "I have nothing to add."

While Deirdre Marie Capone was polishing her manuscript in the last few years, Chris Knight Capone was working on his. [...]

Read the entire article HERE

I'm not sure what this kind of publicity will do for book sales exactly, but it will probably help up the numbers--even if the book isn't as interesting and well-written as some may think. I'm just happy not to be involved in some book-hate from the Capone family, or any potential lawsuits.

Dodged that bullet.

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