The Gangster Era
The Gangster Era

Bugsy Siegel

The Hollywood Gangster


Posted October 2023

FBI Benjamin Bugsy Siegel
Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel
The Hollywood Gangster

As a young man in New York, Siegel was reportedly already extorting protection money from pushcart vendors when he joined with Meyer Lansky to establish the Bugs and Meyer Gang. They later started working for "Lucky" Luciano. In 1936, he moved to Southern California at Lansky's suggestion, where he organized gambling, prostitution, and narcotics operations, and partied with Hollywood. He is most well-known for the construction of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, NV. He was killed June 20, 1947, by gunfire at his home in Beverly Hills, and Lansky took over the Vegas operation.

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FBI Bugsy Siegel
Bugsy Siegel Wanted Poster
On December 1, 1939, WILLIAM F. MURPHY, Attorney General of the United States, under the authority vested in him by an Act of Congress approved on November 28, 1939, offered a reward of $6,000.00 for the capture of Benjamin Siegel or a reward of $3,000.00 for information leading to the arrest of Benjamin Siegel.

All claims to any of the aforesaid rewards and all questions and disputes that may arise as among claimants to the foregoing rewards shall passed upon by the Attorney General and his decisions shall be final and conclusive. The right is reserved to divide and allocate portions of any of said rewards as between several claimants. No part of the foresaid rewards shall be paid to any official or employee of the Department of Justice.

If you are in possession of any information concerning the whereabouts of Benjamin Siegel, communicate immediately by telephone or telegraph collect to the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Department of Justice.

The apprehension of Benjamine Siegel is sought in connection with the murder of Harry "Big Greenie" Greenberg on November 22, 1939.

DECEMBER 1, 1939

Bugsy Siegel

WIKIPEDIA Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel
(February 28, 1906 – June 20, 1947) was an American mobster who was a driving force behind the development of the Las Vegas Strip. Siegel was influential within the Jewish Mob, along with his childhood friend and fellow gangster Meyer Lansky, and he also held significant influence within the Italian-American Mafia and the largely Italian-Jewish National Crime Syndicate. Described as handsome and charismatic, he became one of the first front-page celebrity gangsters.

Siegel was one of the founders and leaders of Murder, Inc. and became a bootlegger during American Prohibition. The Twenty-first Amendment was passed in 1933 repealing Prohibition, and he turned to gambling. In 1936, he left New York and moved to California.

HOLLYWOODSiegel was welcomed in the highest circles
He befriended movie stars. He was known to associate with George Raft, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and Cary Grant, as well as studio executives Louis B. Mayer and Jack L. Warner. Actress Jean Harlow was a friend of Siegel and godmother to his daughter Millicent. Siegel bought real estate and threw lavish parties at his Beverly Hills home. He gained admiration from young celebrities, including Tony Curtis, Phil Silvers, and Frank Sinatra.

His time as a mobster during this period was mainly as a hitman and muscle, as he was noted for his prowess with guns and violence. In 1941, Siegel was tried for the murder of friend and fellow mobster Harry Greenberg, who had turned informant. He was acquitted in 1942.

Siegel traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he handled and financed some of the original casinos. He assisted developer William R. Wilkerson's Flamingo Hotel after Wilkerson ran out of funds. Siegel assumed control of the project and managed the final stages of construction.

LAS VEGASWith the Flamingo
Siegel would supply the gambling, the best liquor and food, and the biggest entertainers at reasonable prices. He believed that these attractions would lure thousands of vacationers willing to gamble $50 or $100, as well as "high rollers".

Las VegasSiegel began a spending spree
He demanded the finest building that money could buy at a time of postwar shortages. As costs soared, his checks began bouncing. By October 1946, the Flamingo's costs were above $4 million. By 1947, the costs were over $6 million (equivalent to $64 million in 2021). By late November of that year, the work was nearly finished.

According to later reports by local observers, Siegel's "maniacal chest-puffing" set the pattern for several generations of notable casino moguls. His violent reputation did not help his situation. He boasted one day that he had personally killed some men; he saw the panicked look on the face of head contractor Del Webb and reassured him: "Del, don't worry, we only kill each other."

The Flamingo opened on December 26, 1946 in a driving rainstorm, resulting in a poor reception and technical difficulties, and it soon closed. It reopened in March 1947 with a finished hotel, but by then his mob partners were convinced that an estimated $1 million of the construction budget overrun had been skimmed by Siegel's girlfriend Virginia Hill or by both of them. On June 20, 1947, Siegel was shot dead by a sniper through the window of Hill's Linden Drive mansion in Beverly Hills, California.

DeathOn the night of June 20, 1947
Siegel was sitting with his associate Allen Smiley in Virginia Hill's Beverly Hills home reading the Los Angeles Times, an unknown assailant fired at him through the window with a .30 caliber military M1 carbine, hitting him many times, including twice in the head. Some looked upon it as a cowardly approach, bushwhacking the formidable and weapons-proficient Siegel from a distance. No one was charged with killing Siegel, and the crime remains officially unsolved.

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