How did Benjamin Bugsy Siegel die
Bugsy Siegel and his influence on Las Vegas
Bugsy Siegel, an American criminal born in Brooklyn, helped shape the Las Vegas Strip by building and operating one of the first few casinos in the area. Unfortunately, the casino failed disastrously and shortly before it closed, Siegel, who has been linked to a series of murders, was brutally killed. But how did Siegel affect the City of Sin, why was his casino a failure and who killed him? If you want answers to these questions and more, just keep reading.
Benjamin Siegel was born on February 28, 1906 in Brooklyn, New York. Siegel was the second of five children of the couple Max Siegel and Jennie Riechenthal. They were a poor family who immigrated to the USA from what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Siegel dropped out of school at a young age and joined a gang off Lafayette Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side.
During his time in the gang, Siegel met Meyer Lansky, who later became a crime boss. The two became friends. Siegel had made a name for himself in the area as Chaye, a Yiddish word for "untamed" or "animal". The reason was his quick temper and Siegel quickly gained the reputation of being "crazier than a bed bug", which earned him the nickname "Bugsy", from the English word for bedbug. He always hated the name.
Around the 1920s, Siegel and Meyer decided to join forces and start their own gang called The Bugsy and Meyer Mafia. At that time, prohibition was in full swing. After recruiting armed professionals, the gang started their own business smuggling illicit alcohol along the east coast. At the age of 25, Siegel was so wealthy that he could afford an apartment in the Waldorf Astoria Towers in Manhattan.
In May 1929, Bugsy Siegel and Lansky attended the Atlantic City Conference, where they represented the Bugs and Meyer mob. The event was hosted by Enoch 'Lucky' Johnson, then boss of Atlantic City. There they met Charlie 'Lucky' Luciano, a future crime boss, and his right-hand man Frank Costello. The men formed a strong partnership as they discussed the future of organized crime. In the same year Siegel married his childhood sweetheart Esta Krakower. The couple had two daughters, Millicent and Barbara, but Siegel allegedly cheated on Krakower and the relationship ended with their divorce in 1946.
In the late 1920s, American Mafia families worked under a man known as "Capo di Tutti Capi", which means "boss of all bosses". In 1929, New York Mafia bosses fought Joe "The Boss" Masseria, a well-known Sicilian mafioso, and Salvatore Maranzano for the title. At the same time, Bugsy Siegel and four other men were hired to kill Masseria. He was shot dead at Nuova Villa Tammaro on Coney Island in April 1931.
This led to Maranzano taking over the title and control of the American mafia. But Charles "Lucky" Luciano wanted to get rid of him. He reportedly hired several men from the Bugsy and Meyer Mafia, including Siegel himself, to assassinate Maranzano. When Maranzano was eliminated, Luciano took control and founded The Commission, the governing body of the American Mafia.
At this time Siegel and Lansky dissolved the Bugsy and Meyer Mafia. They founded Murder Inc. (also known as Murder Incorporated), a criminal group that carries out contract killings. At some point they handed the company over to Albert Anastasia and Lois Buchalter, while Siegel continued to work as a hit man.
In 1933, Siegel and Lansky passed information about the tax evasion of the American gangster Waxey Gordon to the American tax authorities, which led to his arrest. From prison, Waxey hired the Fabrizzo brothers to murder Siegel and Lansky. Instead, Siegel got ahead of them, hunted down the Fabrizzo brothers and killed them. After her death, one of her brothers, Tony Fabrizzo, wrote a lengthy biography about Siegel's Murder Inc. organization. But the gang found out what Fabrizzo was up to and they decided to get rid of him.
Bugsy Siegel was admitted to a hospital and secretly snuck out that night. He met two accomplices that night. They pretended to be policemen, approached Fabrizzo, lured him out of the house under an excuse and shot him. Siegel's alibi for the night was his stay in the hospital, but his enemies knew the truth and wanted to kill him. That eventually led Siegel to leave New York and move to the West Coast.
The west coast
In the late 1930s, Siegel moved to California, where he recruited Mickey Cohen as his deputy. He set up gambling halls and gambling ships on the open sea. It also strengthened the existing prostitution, narcotics and bookmaking businesses in the state. Siegel eventually bought a house in Beverley Hills and befriended actor George Raft, a New York-born man who grew up with gangsters but moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career.
Through Raft, Siegel made friends with Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, and Jean Harlow. Harlow also became his daughter's unofficial godmother. These new friends later claimed that Siegel wanted to be an actor and therefore attended Hollywood movie sets more often. It was around this time that Siegel met actress Virginia Hill, who was known for her beauty and equally violent temper. The couple started dating. Hill remained his lover for years, both before and after Siegel's divorce with Esta.
In November 1939 Siegel and three accomplices killed Harry "Big Greenie" Greenburg in front of his apartment on behalf of Luis Buchalter, the new boss of Murder Incorporated. Shortly after the murder, one of Siegel's accomplices confessed to the crime and agreed to testify against Siegel. Siegel was convicted of the murder. He made headlines for refusing to eat and for the special treatment he received in prison. Siegel, who had hired the lawyer Jerry Giesler to defend himself, was allowed to receive female visitors in prison and was given exit for visits to the dentist.
Bugsy Siegel was eventually acquitted for lack of evidence, but his reputation was damaged. National newspapers had started to cover his past and picked up the Bugsy name. Bugsy was arrested a second time for working as a bookmaker. He was acquitted again and decided to create a new personal image. This time Siegel turned to Las Vegas.
Turn to Vegas
Siegel and Hill moved to Nevada in the mid-1940s. Around the same time, El Rancho Vegas had just been built off Highway 91 in the middle of the Nevada desert, an area better known today as the Las Vegas Strip. The resort was doing well and Siegel decided to build their own casino.
He convinced Lansky to invest money in Las Vegas. Siegel soon took over the development of the Flamingo Hotel, a resort already under construction, from William R. Wilkerson. He had promised his old gang that he could finish the resort for a million dollars. But the cost ultimately rose to $ 6 million, which is around $ 58 million today. The construction was completed at the end of November 1947.
The Flamingo opened on December 26, 1946, but only the casino, lounge, restaurant and theater were completed at that time. Despite the bad weather, many locals attended the opening. But only a few celebrities came, and Siegel had definitely counted on it. The celebrities who attended the opening were Raft, June Haver, Vivian Blaine, Sonny Tufts, Brain Donlevy, and Charles Coburn. However, they were put off by the noise and chaos of ongoing construction. Eventually, during the opening, the casino's air conditioning broke down, making visiting the resort uncomfortable.
The gaming tables were in operation, but the luxury rooms that Bugsy Siegel had advertised and that were supposed to encourage visitors to stay longer had not been finished. Customers left the resort earlier than expected. When Siegel noticed the many mishaps during the opening, he was verbally absent and is said to have thrown a family out. Two weeks later the resort was closed.
Fortunately for Siegel, he got a second chance. The gangster had the hotel and casino renovated and hired a new press agent. The resort reopened in March 1947 and started making a profit. But Siegel's old gang got tired of waiting for their share and at the same time his enemies were getting closer and closer. He was starting to run out of time.
Bugsy Siegel's assassination
On the evening of June 20, 1947, Siegel was sitting with deputy Allen Smiley in the living room of his Beverly Hills home reading a copy of the Los Angeles Times when 9 shots from a 30-caliber military carbine rifle smashed the window and hit Siegel in the face. He was killed instantly. According to reports, three of Lansky's accomplices came to the Flamingo the day after his murder and announced the takeover of the hotel.
To date, it is not known who actually murdered Bugsy Siegel. Many suspect the gangster was killed by his former gang for spending too much on the Flamingo Hotel. Rumor has it that a meeting of the gang's board of directors was held in Havana, Cuba in 1946 so that Luciano, who was exiled to Sicily, could also attend. The men of the congregation are said to have decided to kill Siegel, with Lansky reluctantly agreeing.
Another theory was that one of Virginia Hills' brothers killed Siegel. Because the way Siegel was shot was atypical for Mafia methods. The shots were fired from outside the house and the risk of missing a target would be too great. Therefore, it is believed that one of Hill's brothers killed Siegel. One of her brothers, who was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, was seen outside the Flamingo Hotel two weeks before the attack on Siegel. He allegedly quarreled with Virginia about Siegel for beating her. It is rumored that the couple led a love-hate relationship and would slam seals and leave bruises on Virginia.
A final theory is that Moe Sedway, one of the employees of Lansky who took over the Flamingo Hotel, was involved in a love triangle, stumbled into the Bugsy Siegel and was killed as a result.
Virginia Hill had moved to Europe at the time of his death and died of a sleeping pill overdose in Austria in 1966. Only Bugsy Siegel's brother and his rabbi appeared at Siegel's funeral. He was buried in Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.
The Flamingo Hotel & Casino is still standing today, but has since changed hands several times. After Bugsy's death, the resort was renamed The Fabulous Flamingo. In 1972 the Hilton Corporation bought the resort and renamed it the Flamingo Hilton. Harrah's Entertainment later bought the facility and named it Caesars Entertainment Corporation. Today it's called Flamingo Las Vegas.
Over time, much of the building's original structure was demolished, a garden was laid out, and the building's four towers were expanded. There is a memorial plaque for seals in the garden between the pool and the chapel.
Bugsy Siegel's death made headlines in the United States because the national newspapers published the gruesome photos of his death. By now the gangsters realized that Siegel was right about the possibilities in Vegas. Many began setting up their own casinos to help establish the Strip. By the 1950s, the gang had helped found three major casinos: the Stardust, the Desert Inn, and the Riviera Casino. In the years that followed, more casinos were founded that make up the iconic city we know today.
A few years later, the nuclear age followed in Vegas.
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