We all know Eliot Ness as the famous prohibition agent who got Al Capone, but some biographical accounts of his life indicate that he ended up an alcoholic. There have been various fictionalized versions of Ness throughout the years, although none touched on a drinking problem.
According to his biographer, Paul Heimel, who wrote Eliot Ness The True Story, the prohibition agent was not an alcoholic, according to his friends. He did like going out for a drink now and then and frequented famous nightspots. The biography dismisses the rumors of his alcoholism as just that, rumors.
In 1942, Eliot Ness was involved in an accident in the early hours of the morning. It was said that alcohol was a factor in the incident, although never proven. No one was seriously injured in the accident, but the incident cost Ness his career in Cleveland.
In books like Chasing Eliot Ness, the prohibition agent is seen drinking scotch after scotch and appears to have a drinking problem, although alcoholism is the least of his troubles in this book. There are scattered reports all over the internet and whether it is true or not depends upon which biographical account you read about the man behind the Untouchables.
Books like Torso, Nemesis and Chasing Eliot Ness fictionalize Ness, but none as much as The Untouchables by Oscar Fraley. Supposedly a biography of the prohibition agent, Fraley admitted to making the entire story up, according to the biography by Heimel.
Was Eliot Ness an alcoholic or not? He is listed on certain sites as an alcoholic, but there is no one alive today to say for sure. In the 1940s, when the stories came out, it was common for men to drink a few scotches, even during the day. It also makes for a good story to say that someone who fought so hard to keep liquor from Chicago would turn into a drunk. The only one who knows for sure is long gone. We have only fictionalized accounts of his life.
He was, however, a ladies man, according to the biography. This is most likely where the author of Chasing Eliot Ness got her inspiration.