Birthday: April 28, 1906
Died At Age: 86
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Antonio Joseph Accardo, Joe Batters, Big Tuna
Born Country: United States
Born in: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Notorious As: Gangster
Spouse/Ex-: Clarice Pordzany
father: Francesco Accardo
mother: Maria Tilotta Accardo
children: Anthony Ross Accardo, Joseph Frank Accardo, Linda Lee Palermo, Marie Judith Kumerow
Died on: May 22, 1992
place of death: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Who was Tony Accardo?
Tony Accardo was an American criminal, who is considered to be one of the sharpest Chicago mob bosses of all time, with a career spanning over six decades. Starting out as a bodyguard for Al Capone, he slowly rose through the ranks, becoming the boss and finally the ultimate authority of the Outfit by the time he was 70. When he was in his 20s, he gained infamy for wielding the baseball bat as a weapon. However, in the later years, he much preferred to resolve conflicts without bloodshed. His intelligence, level-headedness and the habit of staying away from the spotlight not only helped him become more wealthy and powerful, but also allowed him to start new criminal avenues and acquire new territories to grow the Outfit’s businesses. Although Accardo was arrested multiple times during his tenure, he never had to spend time behind bars. He increased his personal wealth by investing in newspaper agencies, hotels, travel companies, trucking and car dealerships, commercial buildings, paper and lumber factories; and retail centers. He chose to stay away from media attention and was usually seen wearing a low-titled hat, covering his face. He enjoyed staying home with his family and entertaining his guests there.
Childhood & Early Life
Antonio Leonardo Accardo was born on 28 April 1906 in Chicago, U.S., to Maria and Francesco Accardo. Both his parents were immigrants from Sicily, Italy. His father worked as a shoemaker to raise him and his five siblings.
He studied in Chicago’s James Otis School for five years before attending the Washington Grade School. Dissatisfied with the education he was receiving, his parents decided to file a fake birth certificate, claiming that he was born on 28 April 1904, so that he could legally leave school in 1920 instead of 1922. Accardo never returned to school.
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After dropping out of school at the age of 14, Tony Accardo joined a mob group called the Circus Cafe Gang, which was headed by Tony Capezio and Claude Maddox.
He had joined the gang during the Prohibition time in the 1920s, starting out as a lookout, taking up bootlegging, conducting muggings and then eventually moving up to executing armed robberies.
He was noticed by Al Capone’s hit-man Jack McGurn, nicknamed ‘Machine Gun’, and was recruited by him to join the gang, where he started as a bodyguard and chauffer to Capone.
He solidified his place in the Chicago Outfit by carrying out orders flawlessly. Very soon, he proved his loyalty to the gang after taking bullets for his boss during an attack from a rival gang in 1926.
In October 1926, Accardo is believed to have been a part of the crew that killed the leader of the North Side Gang, Hymie Weiss, near the Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.
On 14 February 1929, North Side Gang’s seven members were killed by four of Capone’s men and Accardo is supposed to have been one of them. This incident is infamously known as the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.
He was popular among the Outfit members as ‘Joe Batters’, but was called ‘Big Tuna’ by the media after a photograph of him holding a giant tuna fish during one of his fishing expeditions surfaced.
In 1932, Capone was arrested and Frank Nitti became the new boss, who allowed Accardo to form his own crew. Accardo gathered strength within the Outfit while keeping a low profile. He ended up making huge profits for several of the gang’s businesses.
When Nitti committed suicide in 1943, Accardo became the underboss in the leadership of Paul Ricca, nicknamed ‘The Waiter’. However, within a year’s time, Ricca was arrested on extortion charges, making Accardo the official boss of the Outfit.
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After gaining the complete control of the Outfit, Accardo brought about an era of discipline within the mob. He started several profitable illegal businesses, including that of Liquor tax stamps, narcotics smuggling, counterfeit cigarettes, vending and slot machines. The gang’s territory expanded beyond Chicago, into Las Vegas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
He decided to reinvent the brothel business by converting it into call girl services. He started to phase out extortion and labor racketeering activities, as they involved high risks and legal hassles.
He took over the wire services, which relayed information about the races, so that bookies could figure out the odds and increase profitability.
In 1957, he stepped down and handed over the Outfit’s control to Sam Giancana. However, all major decisions were still being made by Accardo and Ricca. In 1958, he was forced to appear before a committee set up to investigate income tax fraud charges against him. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right continuously for 172 times during the questioning.
In 1966, Joseph Aiuppa, also known as ‘Joey Doves’, replaced Giancana as the new boss; and Accardo continued to be the mob’s counselor. Following Ricca’s death a few years’ later, he became the Outfit’s figure of supreme authority.
Family & Personal Life
Tony Accardo met and married Clarice Pordzany in 1934. The couple had four children together, including two adopted sons and two biological daughters. Their sons were called Anthony and Joseph, while their daughters were named Linda and Marie.
The family lived together in a lavish house in River Forest, Illinois. The sprawling nine-bedroom home had several luxurious amenities, including a bowling alley.
Accardo died on May 22, 1992, at the age of 86 due to natural causes of heart and respiratory failure, in Chicago. He was buried in the presence of his friends and family in the Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Illinois.
Accardo earned his nickname Joe Batters after Capone saw him mangle three men with a baseball bat. He violently crushed their heads with the bat after the Outfit was betrayed by these mobsters. It became one of his trademark styles of killing rivals and debtors.
In 1978, Accardo’s home in River Forest, Illinois, was burgled while his family was on a vacation. Shortly after the theft, the suspects were found dead with their throats slit. Accardo had ordered these killings in retaliation to what he considered an act of disrespect to his family and personal space.