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Overview (5)

Date of Birth 28 February 1906Brooklyn, New York, USA
Date of Death 20 June 1947Beverly Hills, California, USA  (homicide by gunshot)
Birth NameBenjamin Hymen Siegelbaum
Nicknames Benny
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Bugsy Siegel (born Benjamin Siegelbaum) came out of the tough Williamsburgh section of Brooklyn, and was involved in criminal activities from an early age. As a teenager he struck up a friendship with another local gangster, Meyer Lansky, that would last the rest of their lives, and in fact one of their first business dealings together was the formation of a gang of local toughs called the "Bugs and Meyer Mob". Siegel, unlike many of his contemporaries, didn't fit the stereotype of a typical gangster. He was tall, had thick wavy hair, movie-star good looks and clear, piercing blue eyes. While Lansky - as always - was the brains and financial genius behind the mob, Siegel was the brawn, always preferring to use his fists, his knife or his gun whenever an obstacle appeared, and soon got a reputation as a vicious and fearless killer. It was during this period that he acquired the nickname "Bugsy". While that name often was used as a term of respect or honor, in Siegel's case it was used as a synonym for "crazy" in recognition of his penchant for explosive, senseless violence (he hated the nickname and was known to physically assault anyone unwise enough to use it in his presence).

Siegel is most famous for his transformation of Las Vegas, Nevada, into a gambling mecca, although in reality that isn't quite true. Gambling had been legal in Nevada for quite some time and there were already gambling establishments in Las Vegas when Siegel got there. A Los Angeles businessman was trying to build a huge luxury hotel and casino to which he was hoping to attract wealthy film-industry and businesspeople from Los Angeles, but he was running into financial problems. Siegel, who had been unsuccessfully trying to gain a foothold in the gambling business in Las Vegas, seized the opportunity and bought a controlling interest in the project. He renamed the hotel "The Flamingo", after his nickname for his girlfriend, actress Virginia Hill. Siegel convinced many of his organized-crime friends and associates to put both the mob's money and their own into the venture, and he soon had more than a million dollars to work with. Unfortunately, Siegel's lack of business experience and his unfamiliarity with Las Vegas and the construction industry in general resulted in huge overruns as costs escalated, much of it due to theft, double-billing and other fraudulent business practices by many of the resort's contractors and suppliers. Soon the estimated price tag of the complex had ballooned from $1 million to $6 million, with no end in sight and no revenue coming in. The casino finally opened at the end of 1946, but opening night was a disaster. The weather was awful and kept many potential customers away, few of the locals showed up, and since the hotel wasn't finished yet, the customers who did gamble there took their lodgings at several of the other downtown casinos, thereby cutting into the hotel's profits on food and services. A few days after it opened the Flamingo was basically empty, and shortly thereafter Siegel closed it in order to finish up the hotel.

Siegel's mob "friends" were furious and wanted to put out a contract on his life, but were persuaded by Siegel's friend Lansky to let him have more time to finish the complex. In March the hotel was finally finished and the casino opened up again, and since gamblers were now able to stay in the hotel and avail themselves of food and entertainment in addition to the gambling, the casino began to make money, By the middle of 1947 it was showing a $250,000 profit for the year.

However, if Siegel thought he was off the hook, he was mistaken. On June 20, 1947, he was sitting on the couch at his home in Beverly Hills when gunmen standing outside his living room window opened fire on him. He was killed instantly. Although it has never been established who had ordered the hit, conventional wisdom is that his mob associates, even though they were now making money from the casino, were still angry with him for the financial losses they incurred during the construction phase, especially since much of the money came out of their own pockets.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: frankfob2@yahoo.com

Spouse (1)

Esther Krakower (28 January 1929 - 8 August 1946) (divorced) (2 children)

Trivia (9)

Took over the construction of the Flamingo Hotel & Casino from the original developer, and promptly ran up massive cost overruns. The fact that most of the money he was spending was mob money, and that much of the huge debts the casino was incurring would most likely never be paid off, are generally considered to be the reasons for his murder.
Hated the nickname "Bugsy"--a slang term meaning "crazy" that was given to him early in his criminal career due to his explosive temper and penchant for brutal violence--and was known to physically attack and seriously injure people who used it in his presence.
Committed at least one rape, armed robbery, and murder before he turned twenty.
Is referred to indirectly in the Tom Waits song, "Mr. Siegal".
He was the basis for the Moe Green character in The Godfather (1972)--they both started casinos in Las Vegas and both were murdered by being shot in the eye.
His assassination is depicted in the film L.A. Confidential (1997).
Virginia Hill was his on-and-off girlfriend for some years until his death.
Once engaged to Wendy Barrie.

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