Al Capone and His Boardwalk Empire Hats

The Man From The Hornet emerges blinking into the light after a Christmas Boardwalk Empire box set binge. “This outstanding HBO series,” he writes, “is a veritable festival of headgear. After a few episodes you can still see hats when you close your eyes.” This month he’s sharing a few hat notes from the first three seasons…

Series One of Boardwalk Empire features a short scene where a hat stars as a prop, as dialogue driver, as cultural reference point and sub-textual device.


The young Al Capone, at this early stage in his infamy merely a lieutenant to Chicago mobster Johnny Torrio – and a callow, often puerile lieutenant at that – attends a bar mitzvah. An older Jewish man advises him in a few points of hat etiquette.


When Capone pulls off his cap – an oversized, floppy newsboy cap – he is instructed that it is a sign of disrespect to go bare headed in the temple. “Jewish men wear a yarmulke,” he is told, “ to remind us that God is above us.”


They discuss the bar mitzvah, and Capone wisecracks that at 13 one also comes-of-age for reform school.


In light of such frivolity, the old man then questions Capone’s choice of headgear:


“You are a man, yet you wear the cap of a boy.”


Thereafter, Capone – a man for whom sartorial excellence was of paramount importance (we’ll write of that another day) – is never seen without a sharp, grown-up fedora.


You can buy the Boardwalk Empire Boxset HERE

Hornets Hire & Stock Catalogue




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