“Scarface” Al CaponeScarface Al was employed as a bouncer by racketeer Frankie Yale. Capone received the scars that gave him the nickname "Scarface" when he insulted a woman while working the door at a Brooklyn night club. This provoked a fight with her brother Frank Gallucio. Capone’s face was slashed three times on the left side by Gallucio. When photographed, Capone hid the scarred left side of his face and would lie about his injuries as war wounds, but he never served in the armed forces. According to the 2002 magazine from Life , Capone was called "Snorky" by his closest friends. "Scarface" was certainly the better choice for an underworld gangster. Who could take Al "Snorky" Capone seriously.
Benjamin “Bugsy” SiegelAn American gangster who was a driving force behind the development of Las Vegas, Ben "Bugsy" Siegel was not fond of his nickname and was never called that to his face. It was said to cause him to become enraged, murderously so. During his trial for the murder of Harry "Big Greenie" Greenberg (he was acquitted), the newspapers revealed Siegel’s sordid past and started referring to him as "Bugsy". He hated the nickname, "Bugsy" (said to be based on the slang term "bugs", meaning "crazy", describing his erratic behavior), and wouldn’t allow anyone to call him that to his face.
George “Machine Gun” KellyGeorge "Machine Gun" Kelly, the notorious racketeer who gave FBI agents the nickname G-men, was given his gangster nickname by his wife Kathryn who forced him to practice with the machine gun. (She gave it to him as a birthday present.) She became his public relations force and built up his "street cred" with other criminals. In fact, he was not accused or convicted of murder and never used his machine gun with the intent to kill. During his time at Alcatraz he got the nickname ‘Pop Gun Kelly’ for the fact that he was a model prisoner and was nowhere near the tough, brutal gangster his wife made him out to be.
Lester “Baby Face” NelsonPublic Enemy #1 throughout the 1930s, Lester Joseph Gillis better known as "Baby Face" Nelson, due to his young appearance, didn’t care for his nickname and at one point declared himself "Big" George Nelson. The problem? He was only 5 feet 4 inches tall. "Where outlaws such as Pretty Boy Floyd…would kill to protect themselves when cornered, Nelson went out of his way to murder – he loved it," said Jay Robert Nash in Bloodletters and Badmen. "His angelic, pear-smooth face never betrayed his instant ability to kill."
Thomas “Butterfingers” MoranLegendary pickpocket, Thomas "Butterfingers" Moran, was an adept pickpocket who could "slide in and out of a pocket like pure butter." Thomas picked his first pocket in 1906 in San Fransisco and his last pocket at age 78, in 1970. It is said he picked over 50,000 pockets during his lifetime. Like Pretty Boy, Butterfingers didn’t care for his nickname and said so when he was quoted, "I’ve never forgiven that smart-alecky reporter who named me ‘Butterfingers’."
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