The Untouchables

The brave and incorruptible men selected by Eliot Ness were essential to the fight against Al Capone's illegal empire, but the real men have usually been overlooked or fictionalized out of existence by media versions of their story. 

         official Untouchables badge

Cosa Nosferatu tries to right that wrong by including real members of the Untouchables team as characters.  Here is some information about them, including some rare photographs.

Barney CloonanLyle ChapmanSam SeagerPaul RobskyJoe LeesonBill Gardner

                                        From left to right: Barney Cloonan,    Lyle Chapman,    Sam Seager,  Paul Robsky,   Joe Leeson, and Bill Gardner

And here's a newspaper article about Untouchables team member Lyle Chapman (click to see larger version)

news item

The above is a copy of a 1962 LA Times article on Lyle Chapman

Thanks and a tip of the fedora to Roger Borroel,  Michelle Friel Regan, Pat Vehlow, and Tom Benjay  for these photos (including the actual Untouchables badge above) and news article.


Here's an excerpt from Cosa Nosferatu, where Ness introduces the team to writer Lester Dent:

“This lug over here is Barney Cloonan, ex-Marine. “

Dent nodded at the big-shouldered man with black hair and made some notes in his pad.

“Sam Seager, former death row guard at Sing Sing.”  Dent made more notes.

“Lyle Chapman, another veteran of the Great War, played football for Colgate University.  An expert in criminology and forensics.”  Dent made a lot of notes for him.

“Bill Gardner over here is another gridiron star.  From Pennsylvania, a Chippewa Indian to boot.  He’s the old man of our group, but he manages to keep up.”

Dent looked at the giant of a man.  “Jeez, I know you.  Knute Rockne picked you for the All American team.”

Ness moved around the table, putting his hand on the shoulder of much smaller man.  “Paul Robsky, our wiretap specialist.  Spent some time chasing down moonshiners in South Carolina before I pulled him into our little unit.”

Dent was scribbling furiously now.  It made Ness curious about what he was putting down, how he was describing the team.

“By the way, gentlemen, “ Eliot Ness said with a raised eyebrow.  “Our deal is nothing gets published without our say so.  Any magazine article has to be reviewed by us first.  And the book doesn’t get done until Capone is behind bars.”

“Yes, absolutely.  I would never do anything to jeopardize your efforts.”

“Damn well better be right about this,” said Cloonan.  “Last thing we need is giving Capone a road map for what we’re doing and how we do it.”  Dent made a mental note of the man’s accent—sort of Irish, but more urban.  The man looked like he meant business, thought Dent.

“Mike King here,” volunteered the man next to Robsky.

“Mike’s our disguise specialist.  Great at tailing people without being seen, too.”

Dent seemed delighted.  “God, I couldn’t invent a better cast of characters.”

Ness cleared his throat again.

“And this is Marty Lahart, my chief deputy.  Marty is an old Chicago hand.  We did some work out in Chicago Heights together.”

Dent nodded.  “The Cozy Corners raid.  I read about it.”

“Oh, this one you can’t write about.  This is Al Wolff.  He used to close down moonshiners, too, down in Kentucky.  But we keep him on the Q.T., okay?”

Dent looked up, then tore out a sheet from his notepad and ripped it into pieces.

“This is Jim Seeley, former private eye.  Nobody knows the local gangs like he does.  And that handsome fellow over there is Joe Leeson, from Cincinatti.  That’s it, that’s the team.”

Lester Dent was beaming like a kid on Christmas morning.

“So let me see, we have our colorful team of specialists, led by the incorruptible leader, an expert in judo…”

Cosa Nosferatu