Al Capone: From "Dark" to "Fair"

August 26, 2020

Recently I posted about how fairly light-skinned Italian criminals were often falsely stereotyped as "dark" or "swarthy" in the media. Because Al Capone is so famous, a lot of his rap sheets and wanted posters are uploaded online, and I was surprised to find that they don't all describe him the same way.

His hair is always Dark Brown or Black, and on his wanted poster it was assumed that his eyes would be Brown, but on his rap sheets they're described as either Blue, Grey or Green (his relatives have said that they were blue). But his complexion ranges from Dark all the way to Fair:


Dark
Dark Ruddy
Medium Dark


Medium Fair
Fair


Of course, this inconsistency doesn't reflect any kind of "questionable racial status" for Italians because, first of all, complexion and color (i.e. race) are two different things, and whenever a file mentions Capone's color, it's always White:


White
White
White


And second of all, this kind of thing wasn't limited to Italians and other "ethnics". I also found that criminals of Northern European descent were not always described as stereotypically Fair, but often also as Medium and even Dark:


John Dillinger:
Medium
Willie Sutton:
Medium Dark
Fred Barker:
Dark


Harvey Bailey:
Dark
Homer Van Meter:
Dark

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