Excerpt from “The Untouchables” by Eliot Ness & Oscar Fraley

Flashbulbs began to pop as we walked in and, raising my hands to quiet them, I told them there would be plenty of time for everything.

“First, let’s go into my office and I’ll give you the story. Then you can take all the pictures you want.”

When they were settled, and while the newsreels were setting up their cameras, I told them of the attempted briberies. I related in detail how an emissary off Capone’s had tried to buy me off for 2000 dollars a week and how Marty and Sam had thrown back their flying bribe.

Pencils scribbled rapidly, and there was a rush for telephones. Flashlight bulbs popped incessantly and the story had to be repeated for the motion-picture cameras.

It was a long, wearisome process but well worth the effort. Possibly it wasn’t too important for the world to know that we couldn’t be bought, but I did want Al Capone and every gangster in the city to realize that there were still a few law enforcement agents who couldn’t be swerved from their duty.

As the last group were leaving, I heard one of the men say:

“Those guys are dead pigeons.”

Pigeons, I thought grimly, who will take a lot of killing. At the very outset I had chosen my men with an eye toward their ability to take care of themselves under almost any conditions. These men were not hoodlums who had all their courage in their trigger finger. They were alert, fearless and extremely fit and capable. They trusted nobody except themselves, and we had long since devised a system of working in pairs. They would be hard to cut down, I knew.

Meanwhile, defiance of the type we had exhibited was unheard of in a racket-infested city where opposition was so consistently bought off or killed off. Our revelation of the bribes was a sensation. The story was splashed across front pages from coast to coast.

One story opened:

Eliot Ness and his young agents have proved to Al Capone that they are untouchable.

A caption writer adopted it for another paper and over our pictures rode the bold, black words:


The wire service picked up the phrase and the words swept across the nation.

So were born the Untouchables.


Note: “flying bribe” –

“Sam’s driving down the street about two blocks behind the load, and as far as we can tell there isn’t a convoy with the barrel truck this time,” Marty was saying. “All of a sudden – zoom, there’s the Ford coupé right beside us and one of the pearl grey hats flips something into our car. It sails right past Sam’s nose and lands right in my lap.”

Sam bit the end off a cigar and his head disappeared behind a bluish cloud of smoke as he lit up while Marty continued breathlessly.

“Well, I thought for second maybe we were on the receiving end of a pineapple. But what am I holding but a roll of bills big enough to choke a horse!”

Marty chuckled.

“Sam takes one look, sees what it is and says: ‘Watch me catch ‘em. Then you can give them a lateral pass.’ So off we go, and while he’s running down that souped-up Ford I make a quick count and as near as I can estimate – because of the way we’re bouncing along – there has to be two thousand dollars in that roll.”

Nodding, I asked Marty: “Did you catch them?”

“I’ll say,” he laughed. “Sam came up so close beside them we’ll both need a new paint job. Then I pitched a pass that would have made Frank Carideo of Notre Dame look like a substitute. It hit the monkey who was driving right in the eye – and he almost wrecked both of us.”





1 Comment

Filed under Literature, Non-Fiction

One response to “Excerpt from “The Untouchables” by Eliot Ness & Oscar Fraley

  1. Eliot Ness was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA on 19 April 19 1903 and died 16 May 1957, aged 54 years. He created a team of Prohibition agents who raided illegals stills and breweries in the late 1920s directly challenging the gangster Al Capone.

    Frank Carideo was an American football player who played quarterback at the University of Notre Dame from 1928 to 1930, where he was a two-time All-American.

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