Notable Names of Prohibition

Louis Armstrong (1901-1971)

Trumpeter and singer who started performing as a child on the streets of New Orleans and went on to become one of America’s first great jazz entertainers.

Clara Bow (1905-1965)

Silent film star and flapper icon who became known as “The It Girl” after her portrayal of a poor shopgirl in the 1927 film It. The cartoon character Betty Boop was modeled in part after Bow.

James Cagney (1899-1986)

Actor who starred in several influential Prohibition-themed Mob movies, including The Public Enemy (1931), Taxi! (1932) and White Heat (1949).

Al Capone (1899-1947)

Brooklyn-born gangster who rose to the heights of organized crime in Chicago before being convicted of tax evasion in 1931. Suspected of orchestrating the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929.

Izzy Einstein (1880-1938)

New York City Prohibition agent extraordinaire who teamed up with Moe Smith to bust thousands of Volstead Act violators. The duo was known for wearing elaborate disguises and adopting foreign accents.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

Author of novels and short stories depicting the Prohibition era, including This Side of Paradise and The Great Gatsby. He described his wife, Zelda, as “the first American flapper.”

Texas Guinan (1884-1933)

The silent film actress and Vaudeville performer who gained fame as a New York speakeasy operator. She was known for creating a spirited atmosphere in her clubs and greeting customers with “Hello, suckers!”

Elmer Irey (1888-1948)

Treasury Department official who headed the Special Intelligence Unit that brought Al Capone to justice on tax evasion charges. Irey’s “T-Men” also built cases against other Mob, business and political leaders.

Charles “Lucky” Luciano (1897-1962)

New York bootlegger and Mafia boss known as the architect of modern organized crime. Luciano created the Commission, a board of directors-style group that settled disputes among rival Mobs.

Bill McCoy (1877-1948)

The most famous rum runner during the early years of Prohibition, McCoy smuggled liquor from the Bahamas to the East Coast of the United States. The phrase “the real McCoy” is often attributed to him, because of his insistence on selling unadulterated alcohol.

Eliot Ness (1903-1957)

The hard-charging Prohibition agent who gained fame for leading a group of “untouchable” federal agents who raided Al Capone’s breweries in Chicago. He later took on organized crime as Cleveland’s safety director.

Roy Olmstead (1886-1966)

A former Seattle police officer, he became one of the biggest bootleggers in the Pacific Northwest, importing alcohol from Canada. Known as the “Good Bootlegger,” neither he nor his employees carried guns or engaged in other vice activities.

George Remus (1874-1952)

Chicago lawyer turned Cincinnati bootlegger who made his fortune by exploiting loopholes in the Volstead Act. He bought distilleries and pharmacies in the guise of making and selling liquor for medicinal purposes. Considered the inspiration for the title character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsy.

Pauline Sabin (1887-1955)

A Republican Party activist and former supporter of Prohibition, she changed sides and formed the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform, which campaigned for repeal of the 18th Amendment.

Andrew Volstead (1860-1947)

The Republican Minnesota congressman who sponsored the National Prohibition Act, commonly known as the Volstead Act. After he lost re-election in 1922, he worked as legal adviser to the Prohibition Enforcement Bureau.

Wayne Wheeler (1869-1927)

As attorney for the Anti-Saloon League, he was the leading public advocate for the 18th Amendment creating Prohibition. He was a pioneer in the use of high-pressure lobbying techniques and mass communications.

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