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Bugsy Siegel (February 28, 1906) – An Unbelievable dark side of the American dream

Bugsy Siegel
Bugsy Siegel

Enigmatic mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel developed the Flamingo casino in Las Vegas, kindling an age of glamour, gambling, and mobsters in the wastelands.

Occupation: Racketeer, gangster, casino owner
Years active: The 1920s-1947 (his death)
Cause of death: Gunshot wound
Spouse(s): Esta Krakower, 1929-1946 (divorced)
Domestic partner(s): Virginia Hill (mistress, 1945-47)

Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was born on February 28, 1906, in Benjamin Hymen Siegelbaum. He was a Jewish American mobster known as one of the most “infamous and feared gangster.”

On January 28, 1929, he got married to Esta Krakower, who was his childhood lover. They had two daughters, Millicent Siegel (later Millicent Rosen) and Barbara Siegel (later Barbara Saperstein). 

He was described as a handsome and charismatic man who became one of the first front-page celebrity gangsters. He was also a driving force behind the development of the Las Vegas Strip.

A Quick Glance at his Early life

In modern Ukraine, Benjamin Bugsy Siegel was born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to a poor Jewish family from Letichev, Podolia Governorate of the Russian Empire. However, other sources state that his family came from Austria. 

His parents, Max and Jennie, were regularly occupied in a work of bare wages to make the ends meet. Bugsy Siegel happened to be the second child of five children and he promised  to himself that he would rise above that living.

As a young boy, he would cut out of school and hangout with a gang on Lafayette Street at the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

He mainly performed grabs until he coincided with Moe Sedway. He developed a protection racket with Sedway, where trolley traders were obliged to pay him a dollar or he would destroy their commodities.

Bugsy Siegel had a criminal history that involved armed burglary, rape, and killing, dating back to his teenage years.

Foundation of Bugs and Mob Crime Group

When he reached adolescence, he contacted Meyer Lansky, who built a small mob whose actions ranged from gambling to car robbery.

Lansky already had a dispute with Lucky Luciano and then needed Jewish boys of his Brooklyn neighbourhood to systematize like Irish and Italian. Hence, Bugsy Siegel was the first person who got selected in the gang. 

Soon he indulged in illegal activities across various chief East coast cities. Both friends  initiated the Bugs and Meyer Mob and contracted with the several criminal gangs running in New York and New Jersey.

The Bugs and Meyer gang were occupied in seizing cargoes and were accountable for the murdering and evacuation of numerous opposing criminal personages.

Abner “Longie” Zwillman, Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, and Lansky’s brother, Jake, were part of Siegel’s gang mates.

By the age of 21, he was making pretty good bucks and flaunted it. Also, he was described as charming with blue eyes and was known to be mesmerizing and admired by many people.
He soon bought his new house at the Waldorf-Astoria Resort and a Tudor house in Scarsdale.

The clothes that he mostly wore were flashy and sparkling, which showed his colourful personality, and besides that he also engaged in the nightlife of New York City. In 1929, Lansky and Bugsy Seigel joined the Atlantic City Meeting from May 13–16, designating the Bugs and Meyer Mob.  

Criminal Activities of Bugsy Siegel

During the 1920s, Mafia kingpin Charles “Lucky” Luciano and many other Italian criminals established themselves into a nationwide organization.

He was Nicknamed Bugsy for his aggressive nature.  Although he hated the nickname (said to be based on the slang term “bugs”, meaning “crazy”, used to describe his erratic behavior), preferring to be called “Ben” or “Mr. Siegel”. 

In 1937, Bugsy Siegel relocated his crime and betting scams to the West Coast. Residing in California, he established gambling dens and foreign gambling ships while also strengthening the current prostitution, drugs, and bookmaking scams.

Moving his spouse and children out with him, he managed a lavish lifestyle in Beverly Hills. He bought a grand estate, visited parties, and brushed elbows with Hollywood notables and starlets.

Throughout this stage, he argued with partners of Waxey Gordon, the Fabrizzo brothers. Gordon had chosen the Fabrizzo brothers from jail after Lansky and Siegel provided the IRS data about Gordon’s tax avoidance trick. It became the cause of Gordon’s arrest in 1933.

He tracked down the Fabrizzios, halting them after their shooting trial on Lansky and Bugsy Bugsy Siegel himself. After the deaths of his two brothers, Tony Fabrizio started recording a memoir and presented it to a lawyer.

One of the most widespread episodes was a segment on the public kill-for-hire company directed by Bugsy Siegel. The mob determined Fabrizzo’s intentions before he could administer them. 

In 1932, Bugsy Siegel was sent to a hospital and, following that night, slid off. Bugsy and two assistants reached Fabrizzo’s house and, pretending as agents to tempt him outside, shot him down.

As per the hospital reports, his case for that night was that he had been terminated into a hospital. In 1935, Bugsy Siegel served in Luciano’s association with Dutch Schultz and hit rival loan swindlers Louis and Joseph Amberg.

Harry Greenberg murder and trial

Whitey Krakower, Frankie Carbo, and Albert Tannenbaum shot Harry “Big Greenie” Greenberg outside his apartment on November 22, 1939. Greenberg had threatened to be a police source, and Louis Buchalter, boss of Murder, Inc., arranged his killing.

Tannenbaum admitted to the killing and agreed to testify against him. Bugsy Siegel and Carbo were associated with shooting and killing Greenberg, and in September 1941, he was accused of the Greenberg death. Whitey Krakower was murdered before he could stand for trial.

He was also permitted for dental appointments. He appointed solicitor Jerry Giesler to protect him. After the deaths of both spectators, no further eyewitnesses came foremost. Tannenbaum’s testimony was rejected.

In 1942, Bugsy Siegel and Carbo were excused due to inadequate proof. However, his reputation was destroyed because, throughout the trial, newspapers published his past and referred to him as “Bugsy” and hated to refer.

On May 25, 1944, Bugsy Siegel was imprisoned for bookmaking. George Raft testified on Siegel’s account, and in late 1944, he was excused.

Las Vegas and the Flamingo Hotel Incident 

In the late 1930s, Bugsy Siegel started seeing actress Virginia Hill. They were a stunning couple who were recognized for their passionate energies as much as for their charming looks.

In 1945, they moved to Las Vegas, where he started serving toward establishing a betting mecca in the Nevada desert. The Flamingo Hotel and Casino construction began under his supervision by having funding from the Eastern crime organization.

Originally budgeted at $1.5 million, the building project soon proved to be a problem as construction costs soared to more than $6 million.

When it was found that many of the overruns were attributable to Siegel’s fraud and mismanagement, Lansky (now a leading member of the Eastern Syndicate) became angered by his disloyalty.

Mystery Behind the Death of Bugsy Siegel 

One theory asserts that his demise emerged from his lavish spending and likely stealing money from the mob. In 1946, a conference was held with the “board of supervisors” in Havana, Cuba, so that Luciano, banished in Sicily, he could visit and engage with him.

A deal on his life was the resolution. As per the Stacher, Lansky hesitantly confessed to the judgment. Although reports said that he was shot in the eye, he was hit double on the right side of his head.

Bugsy Siegel
Bugsy Siegel- (Image Size) The Mob Museum


The departure scene and postmortem images reveal that one shot struck his right cheek and exited by the left side of his neck.

The other struck the outer bridge of his nose where it reached the right eye joint. The force generated by the bullet moving by Siegel’s skull blew his left eye out of its socket.

A Los Angeles Coroner’s Report (#37448) declares the reason for death as cerebral hemorrhage. His death certificate (Registrar’s #816192) states the way of death as a homicide and the reason as “Gunshot Wounds of the head.”

After the Death of Bugsy Siegel

Moments after he died, Syndicate heads Davey Berman, Gus Greenbaum, and Morris Rosen stepped in and took over the administration of the Flamingo.

The ultimate achievement of the resort encouraged the expansion of the Strip and connected the Syndicate’s increased stake into Las Vegas casino resorts. In a town that gulped people, Bugsy Siegel’s loss didn’t mean much.

Shrine of Bugsy Siegel

In the Bialystoker Synagogue on New York’s Lower East Side, Bugsy Siegel is memorialized by a Yahrtzeit (remembrance) plate that records his death date so grievers can say Kaddish for the ceremony.

Siegel’s plate is under Max Siegel’s, his father, who got fate two months before his son. The Flamingo Las Vegas estate, between the pool and a wedlock chapel, is a memorial to Bugsy Siegel.

He was buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.

Movie on Bugsy Siegel as a Dark Side of American Dream

Bugsy Malone is a 1976 British-American musical mobster film directed by Alan Parker. The movie is based on the life of Bugsy Siegel.

Introduced in Chicago, the movie is loosely based on episodes from the initial 1920s to 1931 during Ban, especially real-life mobsters such as Al Capone and Bugs Moran, as enacted in the theatre.

Highlighting only child artists (with singing sounds produced by adults), Parker shifted the subject concern accordingly for the children’s market; in the U.S., the film got a G rating.

The movie was Parker’s feature-length directorial première, presented by actor Scott Baio, and starred veteran actress (at age 13) Jodie Foster.

A movie critic stated that Barry Levinson’s film ‘Bugsy’ should be regarded as one of the most prominent mobster movies ever created.  Connecting a shifting plot, first-class performance, excellent directing, and an award-worthy number, ‘Bugsy’ stands above both period-piece films and irrelevant mobster flicks.

Bugsy’s Net Worth was $100 Million.

Bugsy Siegel was an American mobster who had a net worth equal to $100 million at his death. He is identified for being one of the most offensive and shuddered mobsters of his time.
Like his companions of the age, he was acknowledged to have been involved in racketeering, gangsterism, and associated with unlawful gambling and money laundering.

In 1947, Bugsy Siegel was fired at the house of his lover. When he died, he was believed to have accumulated wealth equivalent to $100 million now.

Few unknown facts of Bugsy Siegel at a glance

  • Bugsy Siegel became a mobster as a teenager and was determined to change his fate. He hated his nickname Bugsy and threatened if anyone called him that.
  • His status as a star gangster flourished in 1938 when he accompanied a band of Hollywood aristocrats on a strange ship trip to the seas off the coast of Costa Rica.
  • He hoped to fix an agreement to sell it to dictator Benito Mussolini, though their plan soon failed after the atomic being unable to impress during a demonstration.
  • Seigel was usually wrongfully credited with inventing the Las Vegas Strip.
  • His murder still remains unsolved. Many theories were given, but none proved till now.


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