Benjamin Siegel, called Bugsy was an American gangster who born on 28 February 1906 in New York and died on 20th June 1947 in Beverly Hills. He recognized Las Vegas’ potential for gambling and attracted the attention of the mafia. The city thus began to be a huge source of income for organized crime at the end of the 1940s. As a teenager, he extorted money from neighbors – small traders, later, together with his friend Meyer Lansky, hijacked cars. Growing up, friends engaged in a major racket, did not disdain and murdered by order. In 1937 Bugsy arrived in California. Not to smoke on the sun, but on work: was sent by the mafia syndicate of the legendary Lucky Luciano to set up a racket in California. Collecting the harvest on this fertile soil, incidentally Sigel opened the “floating” casinos on the ships (no closer than 12 miles from the coast), traded in drug smuggling and blackmail (Gragg, 2015).
Bugsy, who at the time was barely over thirty, really was the same beetle – an elegant handsome man with an open smile and a well-hung tongue, he easily rubbed himself into any company. He quickly got in touch with Hollywood celebrities. If before the new friends and rumors that the handsome Bugsy gangster was rumors, it only added to him the charm in their eyes (Capeci, 2002). He never came across serious crimes. And he only smiled widely at questions about the occupation: “I’m an athlete!” And I did not lie: after all, gambling can also be considered a kind of sport.
Born in Brooklyn, Williamsburg, in 1906 as Benjamin Siegelbaum, but the family soon changed their name to Siegel. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Austria, Max Siegel and Jennie Riechenthal. They had four more children. As a boy, Bugsy devoted little criminality. Later, he met Meyer Lansky and marched out merchants, took out money for “protection”, stole, especially cars, and executed violent crime. At that time, due to his violent nature and psychopathic inclination, he also received the nickname Bugsy. But he did not like the address, so people were afraid to talk to his eyes. Bugsy and Meyer have teamed up with Lucky Lucian and Frank Costell (Gragg, 2015). They received large revenues from alcohol trading for prohibitions. Siegel did not avoid murders on order. While Lansky and Luciano managed the operations, he did them. On January 28, 1929, he married. With his wife Esto (Esther or Estelle), Krakow had two children, daughters (Capeci, 2002).
In 1937 he moved to California. He was sent there to Lucky Lucian to explore the environment there, but it was partly because he was trying to kill him in New York City in a competitive gang (for killing one of their members). Bugsy became acquainted with a number of influential filmmakers, including Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, and Cary Grant (Tuohy, 2001).
According to legend, he had a meeting with Goebbels and Göring on one social event, which was invited by the Italian councilor Dorothy DiFrasso. For their anti-Semitic views, he was supposed to kill them, which eventually had to convey to him. Bugsy in California has stripped off movie studios and actors, and has also controlled local bookmakers, including gambling boats that have gambled. He was also involved in drug smuggling from Mexico to the US. Because he had a love affair with a line of actresses, his wife Esta rushed with him on August 8, 1946. Her greatest love for life was Virginia Hill (born August 26, 1916), who made a bait gangster, she was making money, and she was also a prostitute, a hostess and a dancer. She had her home in Beverly Hills, where Bugsy moved (Tuohy, 2001).
On October 31, 1931, Nevada was a legalized gamble. Bugsy came to Las Vegas in 1945. At that time there were several smaller casinos built there. He met Billy Wilkerson, the owner of several nightclubs. He had a casino and spectacular plans, but he was out of money, he was longing. Bugsy bought it from a casino by completing it and making it a luxurious complex, including, besides the casino, all the hotel amenities, including swimming pools, restaurants and entertainment and relaxation spots. The casino was named Flamingo (Flamingo) – a name he sometimes called Virginia’s girlfriend. On the purchase and completion of the casino he borrowed Mafia money, according to preliminary estimates Flamingo had to cost $ 1.5 million (Gragg, 2015).
At that time, building materials in America were relatively expensive and difficult to access because they were needed to repair war-destroyed homes. Moreover, getting him to Vegas was very costly. In addition, Bugsy did not know how to manage the construction, and it was common for his suppliers to sell the same material (be it bricks or palms) several times. Bugsy did not notice and pay. The cost of the Flamingo climbed up to six million, even before the construction was complete. Mafias who put their money into Flaming did not intend to forgive Bugsy for such a thing. Additionally, there were strong concerns that Bugsy sent money through Virginia to Europe. Virginia has often traveled to Switzerland. Allegedly, he should have deposited money with the banks in Zurich and Geneva (Capeci, 2002).
On December 22, 1946, a conference was held in Havana, where Mafia bosses met, Meyer Lansky, Frank Costello, Lucky Luciano, and Vito Genovese. The Vegas casino and related Sieglova removal were also featured on the program. Meyer Lansky as Bugsy’s friend of others persuaded him to give him another chance to show that Flamingo would eventually be lucky.
On December 26, 1946, Bugsy opened the casino, although not yet completed; he wanted to meet the predetermined deadline. It was a great pompous action for which a kick of movie stars was invited, but it finally ended with a fiasco. Due to the bad weather and the fact that the rooms in the hotel were not yet finished, the Flaming visitors did not stay and their winnings were taken to other casinos (Knapp, 2010). Local people did not like Flamingo, and for others it was too far to go. The casino is therefore closed. Its reopening occurred in March 1947. In May of the same year, Flamingo finally got red. In the spring of 1947, the second Havana conference took place. The result is not good for Siegla. Bossovia agreed that Siegel was a threat to them after Flaming’s opening.
On the evening of June 20, 1947, Siegel stayed at Virginia Hill in Beverly Hills (Virginia at that time in Europe). Besides him, his friend Allen Smiley, Virginia Chick Hill and his girlfriend Jerry Mason were in the house (Koziol, 1987). Bugsy sat on the couch at the window and read the Los Angeles Times. Between 22:30 and 22:45, someone started shooting him through the window. Several strikes hit him, mostly in the head. He was dead. The photos of his scattered body were printed on the second day of the American newspaper. At the time of death Bugsy had been 41 years old. He does not know who killed him. No one was condemned for his murder. The funeral took place in Beverly Hills. Only 5 people – his ex-wife Esta Siegel, sixteen-year-old daughter Millicent and fourteen-year-old Barbara, his brother Maurice Siegel, sister Bessie Satoay and friend Allen Smiley. Not one of his Hollywood acquaintances, or Virginia Hill.
After Bugsy’s Death
The money that Siegel owed to the Mafia allegedly stole Virginia and flew with them to France and later to Sweden. Practically immediately after Bugsy’s death, the Flaming leadership took over the three men who worked for Meyer Lansky. But he has denied any connection with Bugsy’s death. Virginia Hill died in Austria on 24 March 1966 for sleep overdose. According to the official version, suicide was reported, however, given the place of its body, speculation about the murder of American mafia Cosa Nostra, as a revenge for $ 2 million, designed for the construction of the Flamingo casino (Knapp, 2010). In the 1970s, Flamingo took over the Hilton family and renamed it to Flamingo Hilton. Over the years, massive rebuilding has taken place. The last remnant of Bugsy’s original Flaming was demolished in 1993, Bugsy reminds only of the memorial table there. In 1999 Flamingo Hilton was renamed Flamingo Las Vegas. It was the history of Bugsy that triggered the boom in the construction of gambling establishments in the late 40’s and 50’s. It was then that the Desert Inn Hotel, Sahara, Sands Hotel, Showboat, Moulin Rouge appeared.
Capeci, Jerry (2002). The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Mafia. Alpha Books. p. 92. ISBN 0-02-864225-2.
Gragg, Larry (2015). Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel: The Gangster, the Flamingo, and the Making of Modern Las Vegas. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. p. 1.
Knapp, George (July 23, 2010). “Who Killed Bugsy Siegel?” KLAS-TV 8 News NOW. World Now. Retrieved September 26, 2012.
Koziol, Ronald (September 27, 1987). “Bugsy Siegel Rolled Out The Greed Carpet For His Fellow Mobsters”. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 26, 2012.
Tuohy, John William (October 2001). “Bugsy”. AmericanMafia.com. PLR International. Retrieved September 21, 2012.