Bugsy Siegel

Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel (February 28, 1906  – June 20, 1947) was an American mobster. Siegel was known as one of the most "infamous and feared gangsters of his day".[2] Described as handsome and charismatic, he became one of the first front-page celebrity gangsters.[3] He was also a driving force behind the development of the Las Vegas Strip.[4] Siegel was not only influential within the Jewish mob but, like his friend and fellow gangster Meyer Lansky, he also held significant influence within the American Mafia and the largely Italian-Jewish National Crime Syndicate.

Siegel was one of the founders and leaders of Murder, Inc.[5] and became a bootlegger during the Prohibition. After the Twenty-first Amendment was passed repealing Prohibition in 1933, he turned to gambling. In 1936, he left New York and moved to California.[6] His time as a mobster (although he eventually ran his own operations) was mainly as a hitman and muscle, as he was noted for his prowess with guns and violence. In 1939, Siegel was tried for the murder of fellow mobster Harry Greenberg. He was acquitted in 1942.

Siegel traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he handled and financed some of the original casinos.[7] He assisted developer William R. Wilkerson's Flamingo Hotel after Wilkerson ran out of funds.[8] Siegel took over the project and managed the final stages of construction. The Flamingo opened on December 26, 1946, to poor reception and soon closed. It reopened in March 1947 with a finished hotel. Three months later, on June 20, 1947, Siegel was shot dead at the home of his girlfriend, Virginia Hill, in Beverly Hills, California.

Bugsy Siegel
Mugshot Benjamin Siegel
Benjamin Siegel[1]

February 28, 1906
Brooklyn, New York
DiedJune 20, 1947 (aged 41)
Cause of deathHomicide
Resting placeHollywood Forever Cemetery
ResidenceLos Angeles, California
Other namesBenny, Ben, Bugs, Bugsy
OccupationRacketeer, gangster, casino owner
Height5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Esta Krakower
(m. 1929; div. 1946)
Partner(s)Virginia Hill (1945–1947)
  • Millicent Rosen (daughter)
  • Barbara Saperstein (daughter)
  • Max Siegel (father)
  • Jennie Riechenthal (mother)
Bugsy Siegel signature

Early life

Benjamin Siegel[9][1] was born on February 28, 1906 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the second of five children of a poor Jewish family that emigrated to the United States from the Galicia region of what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire.[10][11][1] His parents, Jennie (Riechenthal) and Max Siegel, constantly worked for meager wages.[12] As a boy, Siegel left school and joined a gang on Lafayette Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He committed mainly thefts until he met Moe Sedway. With Sedway, Siegel developed a protection racket in which he threatened to incinerate pushcart owners' merchandise unless they paid him a dollar.[13][14] Siegel had a criminal record, dating from his teenage years, that included armed robbery, rape and murder.[15]

The Bugs and Meyer mob

During adolescence, Siegel befriended Meyer Lansky, who formed a small mob whose activities expanded to gambling and car theft. Lansky, who had already had a run-in with Charles "Lucky" Luciano, saw a need for the Jewish boys of his Brooklyn neighborhood to organize in the same manner as the Italians and Irish. The first person he recruited for his gang was Siegel.[16]

Siegel became involved in bootlegging within several major East Coast cities. He also worked as the mob's hitman, whom Lansky would hire out to other crime families.[17] The two formed the Bugs and Meyer Mob, which handled hits for the various bootleg gangs operating in New York and New Jersey, doing so almost a decade before Murder, Inc. was formed. The gang kept themselves busy hijacking the liquor cargoes of rival outfits.[18] The Bugs and Meyer mob was known to be responsible for the killing and removal of several rival gangland figures.[19] Siegel's gang mates included Abner "Longie" Zwillman, Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, and Lansky's brother, Jake; Joseph "Doc" Stacher, another member of the Bugs and Meyer Mob, recalled to Lansky biographers that Siegel was fearless and saved his friends' lives as the mob moved into bootlegging: "Bugsy never hesitated when danger threatened," Stacher told Uri Dan. "While we tried to figure out what the best move was, Bugsy was already shooting. When it came to action there was no one better. I've never known a man who had more guts.[20]

Siegel was also a boyhood friend to Al Capone; when there was a warrant for Capone's arrest on a murder charge, Siegel allowed him to hide out with an aunt.[21] Siegel first smoked opium during his youth and was involved in the drug trade.[22] By age 21, Siegel was making money and flaunted it. He was regarded as handsome with blue eyes[23] and was known to be charismatic and likable.[24] He bought an apartment at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and a Tudor home in Scarsdale, New York. He wore flashy clothes and participated in New York City night life.[11][25]

From May 13 to May 16, 1929, Lansky and Siegel attended the Atlantic City Conference, representing the Bugs and Meyer Mob.[26] Luciano and former Chicago South Side Gang leader Johnny Torrio held the conference at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. At the conference, the two men discussed the future of organized crime and the future structure of the Mafia crime families: Siegel stated, "The yids and the dagos will no longer fight each other."

Marriage and family

On January 28, 1929, Siegel married Esta Krakower, his childhood sweetheart. They had two daughters, Millicent Siegel (later Millicent Rosen) and Barbara Siegel (later Barbara Saperstein).[4] Siegel had a reputation as a womanizer and the marriage ended in 1946.[27] His wife moved with their teenage daughters to New York.

Murder, Incorporated

By the late 1920s, Lansky and Siegel had ties to Luciano and Frank Costello, future bosses of the Genovese crime family. Siegel, Albert Anastasia, Vito Genovese, and Joe Adonis, allegedly were the four gunmen who shot New York mob boss Joe Masseria to death on Luciano's orders on April 15, 1931, ending the Castellammarese War.[28][29] On September 10 of that year, Luciano hired four gunmen from the Lansky-Siegel gang (some sources identify Siegel being one of the gunmen[30][31]), to murder Salvatore Maranzano in his New York office, establishing Luciano's rise to the top of the Mafia and marking the beginning of modern American organized crime.[32]

Mugshot Benjamin Siegel
Siegel's April 1928 mugshot

In 1931, following Maranzano's death, Luciano and Lansky formed the National Crime Syndicate, an organization of crime families that brought power to the underworld.[5][33] The Commission was established for dividing Mafia territories and preventing future gang wars.[5] With his associates, Siegel formed Murder, Inc. After Siegel and Lansky moved on, control over Murder, Inc. was ceded to Buchalter and Anastasia.[34] Siegel continued working as a hitman.[35] Siegel's only conviction was in Miami. On February 28, 1932, he was arrested for gambling and vagrancy, and, from a roll of bills, paid a $100 fine.[4]

Florida-Fort Lauderdale-Bugsy Siegel House-1930
Bugsy Siegel's house in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, alongside the New River.

During this period, Siegel had a disagreement with the Fabrizzo brothers, associates of Waxey Gordon. Gordon had hired the Fabrizzo brothers from prison after Lansky and Siegel gave the IRS information about Gordon's tax evasion. It led to Gordon's imprisonment in 1933.[19]

Siegel hunted down the Fabrizzos, killing them after they made an assassination attempt on him and Lansky.[36] After the deaths of his two brothers, Tony Fabrizzo had begun to write a memoir and gave it to an attorney. One of the longest chapters was to be a section on the nationwide kill-for-hire squad led by Siegel. The mob discovered Fabrizzo's plans before he could execute them.[37] In 1932, Siegel checked into a hospital and later that night sneaked out. Siegel and two accomplices approached Fabrizzo's house and, posing as detectives to lure him outside, gunned him down.[38] According to hospital records, Siegel's alibi for that night was that he had checked into a hospital.[37] In 1935, Siegel assisted in Luciano's alliance with Dutch Schultz and killed rival loan sharks Louis "Pretty" Amberg and Joseph C. Amberg.[39][40]


Siegel had learned from his associates that he was in danger: His hospital alibi had become questionable and his enemies wanted him dead.[41] In the late 1930s, the East Coast mob sent Siegel to California.[42] Since 1933, he had traveled to the West Coast several times,[43] and in California, his mission was to develop syndicate-sanctioned gambling rackets with Los Angeles family boss Jack Dragna.[44] Once in Los Angeles, Siegel recruited gang boss Mickey Cohen as his chief lieutenant.[45] Knowing Siegel's reputation for violence, and that he was backed by Lansky and Luciano — who, from prison, sent word to Dragna that it was "in [his] best interest to cooperate"[46] Dragna accepted a subordinate role.[47] — Siegel moved Esta and their daughters, Millicent and Barbara, to California. On tax returns, he claimed to earn his living through legal gambling at Santa Anita Park near Los Angeles.[48] In Los Angeles, he took over the numbers racket[49] and used money from the syndicate to help establish a drug trade route from the Mexico to the United States and organized circuits with the Chicago Outfit's Trans-America Wire service.[50][51]

By 1942, $500,000 a day was coming from the syndicate's bookmaking wire operations.[49] In 1946, because of problems with Siegel, the Chicago Outfit took over the Continental Press and gave the percentage of the racing wire to Dragna, infuriating Siegel.[51][52] Despite his complications with the wire services, Siegel controlled several offshore casinos[53] and a major prostitution ring.[17] He also maintained relationships with politicians, businessmen, attorneys, accountants, and lobbyists who fronted for him.[54]


In Hollywood, Siegel was welcomed in the highest circles and befriended movie stars.[3] He was known to associate with George Raft, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and Cary Grant,[55] as well as studio executives Louis B. Mayer and Jack L. Warner.[56] 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.[50] He gained admiration from young celebrities, including Tony Curtis,[57] Phil Silvers, and Frank Sinatra.

Siegel had several relationships with actresses, including socialite Dorothy DiFrasso, the wife of an Italian count. The alliance with the countess took Siegel to Italy in 1938,[58] where he met Benito Mussolini, to whom Siegel tried to sell weapons. He also met Nazi leaders Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels, to whom he took an instant dislike and later offered to kill them.[59][60][61] He relented because of the countess' anxious pleas.[55]

In Hollywood, Siegel worked with the syndicate to form illegal rackets.[47] He devised a plan of extorting movie studios; he would take over local trade unions (the Screen Extras Guild and the Los Angeles Teamsters) and stage strikes to force studios to pay him off, so that unions would start working again.[51] He borrowed money from celebrities and didn't pay them back, knowing that they would never ask him for the money.[62][63] During his first year in Hollywood, he received more than $400,000 in loans from movie stars.

Greenberg murder and trial

On November 22, 1939, Siegel, Whitey Krakower, Frankie Carbo and Albert Tannenbaum killed Harry "Big Greenie" Greenberg outside his apartment. Greenberg had threatened to become a police informant,[64] and Louis Buchalter, boss of Murder, Inc., ordered his killing.[65] Tannenbaum confessed to the murder[66] and agreed to testify against Siegel.[67] Siegel and Carbo were implicated in the killing of Greenberg, and in September 1941, Siegel was tried for the murder.[68] Krakower was killed before he could face trial.[69] Siegel's trial gained notoriety because of the preferential treatment he received in jail; he refused to eat prison food and was allowed female visitors. He was also granted leave for dental visits.[49][70] Siegel hired attorney Jerry Giesler to defend him. After the deaths of two state witnesses,[49][71] no additional witnesses came forward. Tannenbaum's testimony was dismissed.[72] In 1942, Siegel and Carbo were acquitted due to insufficient evidence[72] but Siegel's reputation was damaged. During the trial, newspapers revealed his past and referred to him as "Bugsy". 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".[73] On May 25, 1944, Siegel was arrested for bookmaking. Raft and Mack Gray testified on Siegel's behalf, and in late 1944, Siegel was acquitted again.[74]

Las Vegas

Siegel's original Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, 1947

In 1945, Siegel found an opportunity to reinvent his personal image and diverge into legitimate business with William R. Wilkerson's Flamingo Hotel.[75] In the 1930s, Siegel had traveled to southern Nevada with Lansky's lieutenant Moe Sedway to explore expanding operations there. He had found opportunities in providing illicit services to crews constructing the Boulder Dam. Lansky had handed over operations in Nevada to Siegel, who turned it over to Sedway and left for Hollywood.[76][77]

In the mid-1940s, Siegel was lining things up in Las Vegas while his lieutenants worked on a business policy to secure all gambling in Los Angeles.[78] In May 1946, he decided that the agreement with Wilkerson had to be altered to give him control of the Flamingo.[79] With 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 not only the high rollers but thousands of vacationers willing to gamble $50 or $100.[53] Wilkerson was eventually coerced into selling all stakes in the Flamingo under the threat of death and went into hiding in Paris for a time.[80] From this point the Flamingo became syndicate-run.[81]

Las Vegas' beginning

Siegel 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 costs were above $4 million.[82] By 1947, the Flamingo's cost was over $6 million (equivalent to $60 million in 2018).[83] By late November of that year, the work was nearly finished.[84]

According to later reports by local observers, Siegel's "maniacal chest-puffing" set the pattern for several generations of notable casino moguls.[17] His violent reputation didn't help his situation. After he boasted one day that he'd 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."[85] Other associates portrayed Siegel in a different aspect; he was an intense character who was not without a charitable side, including his donations for the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund.[17] Lou Wiener Jr., Siegel's Las Vegas attorney, described him as "very well liked" and said that he was "good to people".[17]

Defiance and devastation

Problems with the Trans-America Wire service had cleared up in Nevada and Arizona, but in California, Siegel refused to report business.[78] He later announced to his colleagues that he was running the California syndicate by himself and that he would return the loans in his "own good time". Despite his defiance to the mob bosses, they were patient with Siegel because he had always proven to be a valuable man.[86]

The Flamingo opened on December 26, 1946, at which time only the casino, lounge, theater, and restaurant were finished.[87] Although locals attended the opening, few celebrities materialized. A handful drove in from Los Angeles, despite bad weather. Some celebrities present were Raft, June Haver, Vivian Blaine, Sonny Tufts, Brian Donlevy, and Charles Coburn. They were welcomed by construction noise and a lobby draped with drop cloths. The desert's first air conditioning collapsed regularly. While gambling tables were operating, the luxury rooms that would have served as the lure for people to stay and gamble were not ready. As word of the losses made their way to Siegel during the evening, he began to become irate and verbally abusive, throwing out at least one family.[88] After two weeks, the Flamingo's gaming tables were $275,000 in the red and the entire operation shut down in late January 1947.[89]

After being granted a second chance, Siegel cracked down and did everything possible to turn the Flamingo into a success by making renovations and obtaining good press. He hired future newsman Hank Greenspun as a publicist. The hotel reopened on March 1, 1947,—with Lansky present[90]—and began turning a profit.[91][92] However, by the time profits began improving, the mob bosses above Siegel were tired of waiting. Although time was running out, at age 41, Siegel had carved out a name for himself in the annals of organized crime and in Las Vegas history.[17]


Siegel's memorial plaque in the Bialystoker Synagogue.[93]

On the night of June 20, 1947, as Siegel sat 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.[17] No one was charged with killing Siegel, and the crime remains officially unsolved.[4]

One theory posits that Siegel's death was the result of his excessive spending and possible theft of money from the mob.[94][95] In 1946, a meeting was held with the "board of directors" of the syndicate in Havana, Cuba, so that Luciano, exiled in Sicily, could attend and participate. A contract on Siegel's life was the conclusion.[96] According to Stacher, Lansky reluctantly agreed to the decision.[97] Another theory is that Siegel was shot to death preemptively by Mathew "Moose" Pandza, the lover of Sedway's wife Bee, who went to Pandza after learning that Siegel was threatening to kill her husband. Siegel apparently had grown increasingly resentful of the control Sedway, at mob behest, was exerting over Siegel's finances and planned to do away with him.[98] Former Philadelphia crime family boss Ralph Natale has claimed that Carbo was responsible for murdering Siegel, at the behest of Lansky.[99]

Although descriptions said that Siegel was shot in the eye, he was actually hit twice on the right side of his head. The death scene and postmortem photographs show that one shot penetrated his right cheek and exited through the left side of his neck; the other struck the right bridge of his nose where it met the right eye socket. The pressure created by the bullet passing through Siegel's skull blew his left eye out of its socket. A Los Angeles' Coroner's Report (#37448) states the cause of death as cerebral hemorrhage. His death certificate (Registrar's #816192) states the manner of death as a homicide and the cause as "Gunshot Wounds of the head."[100]

Though as noted, Siegel was not shot exactly through the eye (the eyeball would have been destroyed if this had been the case), the bullet-through-the-eye style of killing nevertheless became popular in Mafia lore and in movies, and was called the "Moe Greene special"[101] after the character Moe Greene — based on Siegel — was killed in this manner in The Godfather. Siegel was hit by several other bullets including shots through his lungs.[102] According to Florabel Muir, "Four of the nine shots fired that night destroyed a white marble statue of Bacchus on a grand piano, and then lodged in the far wall."

The day after Siegel's death, the Los Angeles Herald-Express carried a photograph on its front page from the morgue of Siegel's bare right foot with a toe tag.[103] Although Siegel's murder occurred in Beverly Hills, his death thrust Las Vegas into the national spotlight as photographs of his lifeless body were published in newspapers throughout the country.[50] The day after Siegel's murder, David Berman and his Las Vegas mob associates, Sedway and Gus Greenbaum, walked into the Flamingo and took over operation of the hotel and casino.[104]


Bugsy Siegel Memorial Flamingo 20121103
Siegel's memorial outside the wedding chapel at the Flamingo.

In the Bialystoker Synagogue on New York's Lower East Side, Siegel is memorialized by a Yahrtzeit (remembrance) plaque that marks his death date so mourners can say Kaddish for the anniversary. Siegel's plaque is below that of Max Siegel, his father, who died just two months before his son. On the property at the Flamingo Las Vegas, between the pool and a wedding chapel, is a memorial plaque to Siegel.[105] Siegel is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.

Media portrayals

See also


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  76. ^ Wilkerson III, The Man Who Invented Las Vegas. (2000). p. 74
  77. ^ Dennis N. Griffin. The Battle for Las Vegas: The Law vs. the Mob. (2006). pp. 6–7.
  78. ^ a b Turkus & Feder 2003, p. 288.
  79. ^ Wilkerson III, The Man Who Invented Las Vegas. (2000). p. 80
  80. ^ Wilkerson III, The Man Who Invented Las Vegas. (2000). p. 98
  81. ^ Wilkerson III, The Man Who Invented Las Vegas. (2000). p. 81
  82. ^ Wilkerson III, The Man Who Invented Las Vegas. (2000). pp. 83–84
  83. ^ Jennings 1991, p. 6.
  84. ^ Jennings 1991, pp. 169-171.
  85. ^ Jennings 1991, p. 17.
  86. ^ Turkus & Feder 2003, p. 289.
  87. ^ Griffin, The Battle for Las Vegas: The Law vs. the Mob. (2006). pp. 9–10
  88. ^ Griffin, The Battle for Las Vegas: The Law vs. the Mob. (2006). p. 10
  89. ^ Wilkerson III, The Man Who Invented Las Vegas. (2000). pp. 99–104
  90. ^ Wilkerson III, The Man Who Invented Las Vegas. (2000). p. 106
  91. ^ Burbank, Jeff (October 18, 2010). "Bugsy Siegel and the Flamingo Hotel". The Online Nevada Encyclopedia. Nevada Humanities. Archived from the original on March 22, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  92. ^ Koch, Ed; Manning, Mary (May 15, 2008). "Mob Ties". Las Vegas Sun. Archived from the original on December 30, 2012. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  93. ^ On the plaques above see the name Max Siegel, Siegel's father, whose Hebrew name is "Mordechai Dov ben Reb Beirush HaLevi" (from the Hebraic tribe of the Levites) and the one for Siegel, whose Hebrew name is "Bairush HaLevi ben Reb Mordechai Dov HaLevi;" from this we see that Bugsy was named for his grandfather, Dov, meaning bear (Bairush is the Yiddish for Dov), which was Americanized to Benjamin. All fathers are called Reb as an honorific on memorial plaques; Reb means "teacher" as in Rabbi.
  94. ^ May, Allan. "Havana Conference – 1946 (Part Two)". AmericanMafia. PLR International. Archived from the original on August 29, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2012.
  95. ^ Turkus & Feder 2003, p. 290.
  96. ^ Turkus & Feder 2003, pp. 290–291.
  97. ^ Dennis Eisenberg; Uri Dan; Eli Landau. Meyer Lansky: mogul of the mob. (1979). pp. 238–241
  98. ^ Wallace, Amy (September 29, 2014). "Who Killed Bugsy Siegel?". Los Angeles Magazine. Archived from the original on October 9, 2014. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  99. ^ Serranti, Seth (March 15, 2017). "The Story of the First Mob Boss to Turn Rat". Vice. Archived from the original on March 22, 2017. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  100. ^ "Death certificate". Bugsysiegel.net. Archived from the original on 2009-04-01. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  101. ^ Bruno, Anthony. "Fact and Fiction in The Godfather: The Little Man, the Dapper Don, and the Moe Greene Special". Crime Library. Archived from the original on April 17, 2008. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
  102. ^ "American Mafia Website". Americanmafia.com. Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
  103. ^ Funerals of the Infamous Archived 2011-10-17 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved October 15, 2011
  104. ^ Eriksmoen, Curt (January 2, 2011). "Las Vegas mob boss had ties to N.D." The Bismarck Tribune. Archived from the original on August 29, 2017. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
  105. ^ "Bugsy Siegel Memorial". Archived from the original on May 1, 2012. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  106. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 20, 1991). "Bugsy". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on October 26, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  107. ^ Bugsy Siegel at the TCM Movie Database
  108. ^ The Marrying Man at AllMovie
  109. ^ "LAST CALL by Tim Powers". Kirkus Reviews. 1992-04-20. Archived from the original on 2018-06-18. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  110. ^ Yeoman, Kevin (2011-03-03). "'Boardwalk Empire' Casts Bugsy Siegel for Season 2". Screen Rant. Archived from the original on 2018-06-18. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  111. ^ Thorp, Charles (2013-12-18). "Ed Burns Enjoys "Beating The Crap" Out Of People For Work On Mob City". Us Weekly. Archived from the original on 2018-06-18. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  112. ^ "Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel". Making of the Mob official website. AMC. Archived from the original on 2018-06-18. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  113. ^ Scheck, Frank (April 5, 2016). "'Kill Me, Deadly': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on August 9, 2017. Retrieved August 8, 2017.

Works cited

  • Eisenberg, Dennis; Dan, Uri; Landau, Eli (1979). Meyer Lansky: Mogul of the Mob. Paddington Press. ISBN 978-0-448-22206-6.
  • Griffin, Dennis N. (2006). The Battle for Las Vegas: The Law vs. the Mob. Huntington Press. ISBN 978-0929712376.
  • Jennings, Dean Southern (1967). We Only Kill Each Other; the Life and Bad times of Bugsy Siegel. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
  • Sifakis, Carl (2005). The Mafia Encyclopedia. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8160-6989-7.
  • Tereba, Tere (2012), Mickey Cohen: The Life and Crimes of L.A.'s Notorious Mobster, Toronto: ECW Press, ISBN 978-1770410633
  • Turkus, Burton B.; Feder, Sid (2003), Murder, Inc.: The Story Of The Syndicate, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press, ISBN 978-0306812880
  • Wilkerson III, W.R. (2000). The Man Who Invented Las Vegas. Ciro's Books Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9676643-0-9.


Further reading

  • Almog, Oz et al. Kosher Nostra. Wien: Jüdisches Museum der Stadt Wien, 2003 ISBN 3-901398-33-3
  • Buntin, John (2009). L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 9780307352071. OCLC 431334523.
  • Cohen, Rich (1999). Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Gangster Dreams. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0375705472.
  • Ferrari, Michelle; Ives, Stephen (2005). Las Vegas: An Unconventional History. New York: Bulfinch Press. ISBN 978-0821257142.
  • Lewis, Brad (2007). Hollywood's Celebrity Gangster. The Incredible Life and Times of Mickey Cohen. New York: Enigma Books. ISBN 978-1-929631-65-0.

External links

Business positions
Preceded by
Murder, Inc.

Succeeded by
Lepke Buchalter
Preceded by
Cohen crime family

Succeeded by
Mickey Cohen
Preceded by
William R. Wilkerson
Flamingo Hotel

Succeeded by
Moe Sedway
Broadway Mob

The Broadway Mob was a New York bootlegging gang during Prohibition. Although headed by Joe Adonis, the gangs day-to-day operations were handled by Charles "Lucky" Luciano and Frank Costello as well as financially backed by Arnold Rothstein. During Manhattan's bootleg wars, Rothstein would bring in the Bug and Meyer Mob, led by Meyer Lansky and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, to protect alcohol shipments.

As Luciano and Lansky had previously worked together prior to Prohibition, Meyer and Siegel were made partners in the Judeo-Italian criminal organization. By the late 1920s, the Broadway Mob supplied New York speakeasies with some of the highest quality whiskey including Sherman Billingsley's Stork Club, the Silver Slipper, Jack White's, Jack and Charlie's 21 Club among others. Even its lesser quality alcohol imported from Philadelphia mobster Waxey Gordon was considered far superior to the rotgut liquor supplied by the rest of New York's underworld.

At the suggestion of Rothstein, the Broadway Mob bought interests in several popular speakeasies and nightclub which would lead to purchasing valuable real estate in Manhattan. Its operations were eventually absorbed into the criminal syndicate under Luciano and Lansky, following the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.


Bugsy is a 1991 American biographical crime drama film directed by Barry Levinson which tells the story of mobster Bugsy Siegel and his relationship with Virginia Hill. It stars Warren Beatty as Siegel and Annette Bening as Hill, as well as Harvey Keitel, Ben Kingsley, Elliott Gould, and Joe Mantegna. The screenplay was written by James Toback from research material by Dean Jennings' 1967 book We Only Kill Each Other.

The film received acclaim from critics, including Roger Ebert, and was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning two for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Costume Design.

A director's cut was released on DVD, containing an additional 13 minutes not seen in the theatrical version.

Cohen crime family

The Cohen crime syndicate, or the Siegel crime syndicate, was an Italian-American Mafia / Jewish Mafia crime family created by New York Jewish American mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel in the early 1930s. Siegel ran Los Angeles and later Las Vegas' illegal gambling and prostitution rings with his lieutenants Mickey Cohen, David Berman, Harold "Hooky" Rothman, Moe Sedway and boss of the L.A. family Jack Dragna.

Although founded and largely run by Jewish mobsters, the family was often considered to be a part of the Italian-American Mafia, due in part to Siegel and Cohen's associations with the Italian New York and Chicago families. Furthermore, although many of the Cohen family's most high-ranking members and "soldiers" were Jewish gangsters, a large part of the Cohen family's members were ultimately Italian-American. The Cohen family also adopted the Italian Mafia's machismo culture and operated under the Italian Mafia's structure, rules, and customs, such as omertà. However, uniquely, the family generally did not employ the traditional Italian Mafia "made" man system, a system that involves an exclusive Mafia initiation ritual used to induct only men of Italian ethnicity into the Italian-American Mafia. The traditional Italian Mafia initiation ritual was incompatible with the multi-ethnic nature of the family, as the ritual would inherently exclude the many Jewish-American members of the Cohen Family from obtaining high ranking within the family.

After Siegel's murder in June 1947, his chief lieutenant Mickey Cohen inherited his rackets, thus making Cohen a crime boss in the criminal underworld, causing a power struggle between him and the boss of the LA crime family Jack Dragna, another lieutenant in Siegel's organization. This would lead to a war breaking out between the two organizations in the Hollywood and West Hollywood neighborhoods of Los Angeles, dubbed the "battle of Sunset Strip" by media.

The organization was allied with the Five Mafia Families—specifically the Luciano crime family—in New York, the Chicago Outfit in Chicago, and the Dragna crime family in Los Angeles (prior to Siegel's death). Cohen's family was the primary target for organized crime police squads, particularly the LAPD squad ran by Police Chief Bill Parker called the Gangster Squad, who also targeted Jack Dragna and the family during pre-Cohens reign.

The family was ruled by Cohen from 1947 to 1961, in which he was arrested and convicted on charges of tax evasion twice. After his second conviction in 1961, the family was essentially decimated, with its administration either in prison or deceased.

Edward Burns

Edward Fitzgerald Burns (born January 29, 1968) is an American actor, producer, writer, and director best known for appearing in several films including Saving Private Ryan (1998), 15 Minutes (2001), Life or Something Like It (2002), Confidence (2003), A Sound of Thunder (2005), The Holiday (2006), The Groomsmen (2006), One Missed Call (2008), 27 Dresses (2008), Man on a Ledge (2012), Friends with Kids (2012), and Alex Cross (2012). Burns directed movies such as The Brothers McMullen (1995), She's the One (1996), Sidewalks of New York (2001), Purple Violets (2007), and The Fitzgerald Family Christmas (2012). He also starred as Bugsy Siegel in the TNT crime drama series Mob City and as Terry Muldoon in TNT's Public Morals.

Gus Greenbaum

Gus Greenbaum (February 26, 1893 – December 3, 1958) was an American businessman in the casino industry, best known for taking over management of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas after the murder of co-founder Bugsy Siegel.

Harry Greenberg

Harry Schachter or Harry "Big Greenie" Greenberg (1909 – November 22, 1939) was an associate and childhood friend of Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, and an employee of both Charlie "Lucky" Luciano and Meyer Lansky.

Jewish-American organized crime

Jewish-American organized crime emerged within the American Jewish community during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It has been referred to variously in media and popular culture as the Jewish Mob, Jewish Mafia, Kosher Mafia, Kosher Nostra, or Undzer Shtik (Yiddish: אונדזער שטיק‎). The last two of these terms are direct references to the Italian Cosa Nostra; the former is a play on the word kosher, referring to Jewish dietary laws; while the latter is a direct translation of the Italian phrase Cosa Nostra (Italian for "our thing") into Yiddish, which was at the time the predominant language of the Jewish diaspora in the United States.

In the late 19th century in New York City, Monk Eastman operated a powerful Jewish gang that competed with Italian and Irish gangs, notably Paul Kelly's Five Points Gang, for control of New York City's underworld. Another notorious gang, known as the Lenox Avenue Gang, led by Harry "Gyp the Blood" Horowitz, consisted of mostly Jewish members and some Italian members (such as Francesco Cirofisi). It was one of the most violent gangs of the early 20th century and became famous for the murder of gambler and gangster Herman Rosenthal.

In the early 1920s, stimulated by the economic opportunities of the roaring twenties, and later prohibition, Jewish organized crime figures such as Arnold Rothstein were controlling a wide range of criminal enterprises, including bootlegging, loansharking, gambling, and bookmaking. According to crime writer Leo Katcher, Rothstein "transformed organized crime from a thuggish activity by hoodlums into a big business, run like a corporation, with himself at the top." Rothstein was allegedly responsible for fixing the 1919 World Series. At the same time, the Jewish bootlegging mob known as The Purple Gang dominated the Detroit underworld during prohibition, while the Jewish Bugs and Meyer Mob operated in the Lower East Side of New York City before being absorbed into Murder, Inc. and becoming affiliates of the Italian-American Mafia.

The largely Jewish-American and Italian-American gang known as Murder, Inc. and Jewish mobsters such as Meyer Lansky, Mickey Cohen, Harold "Hooky" Rothman, Dutch Schultz, and Bugsy Siegel developed close ties with and gained significant influence within the Italian-American Mafia, eventually forming a loosely organized, mostly Jewish and Italian criminal syndicate known in the press as the "National Crime Syndicate." Jewish and Italian crime groups became increasingly interconnected in the 1920s and 1930s, as they often occupied the same neighborhoods and social statuses of the time. The two ethnic crime groups became especially close in New York City following the establishment of the close relationship between partners Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky and their subsequent elimination of many of the so-called "Mustache Pete", or the Sicilian-born gangsters that often refused to work with non-Italians and even non-Sicilians. The Cohen crime family of Los Angeles and Las Vegas was notably part of both the Jewish Mafia and Italian-American Mafia, and lines between the two ethnic criminal organizations often blurred throughout the 20th century. For decades after, Jewish-American mobsters would continue to work closely and at times compete with Italian-American organized crime.

Lansky (film)

Lansky is a 1999 American made-for-television crime drama film directed by John McNaughton and starring Richard Dreyfuss as the famous gangster Meyer Lansky, Eric Roberts as Bugsy Siegel, and Ryan Merriman as the young Lansky.

Lewis Van Bergen

Lewis Van Bergen (born November 9, 1938) is an American actor, best known for his role as Jon Sable on the short-lived 1987 television series Sable.

He was beaten by Warren Beatty's Bugsy Siegel in the film Bugsy, in the role of Joey Adonis, with whom Siegel competed for the affection of Virginia Hill.

Mob City

Mob City is an American neo-noir crime drama television series created by Frank Darabont for TNT. It is based on real-life accounts of the L.A.P.D. and gangsters in 1940s Los Angeles as chronicled in John Buntin's book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City. The series premiered on December 4, 2013.On February 10, 2014, TNT canceled Mob City. In Germany the series was released via polyband on DVD and Regional lockout-free Blu-ray on July 2, 2015, however there are no known plans to release the series on home video in the U.S.


Mobsters is a 1991 American crime film directed by Michael Karbelnikoff. It details the creation of The Commission. Set in New York City, taking place from 1917 to 1931, it is a semi-fictitious account of the rise of Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Frank Costello, and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. The film stars Christian Slater as Luciano, Patrick Dempsey as Lansky, Costas Mandylor as Costello and Richard Grieco as Siegel, with Michael Gambon, Anthony Quinn, Lara Flynn Boyle, and F. Murray Abraham in supporting roles.

Moe Greene

Morris "Moe" Greene is a fictional character appearing in Mario Puzo's 1969 novel The Godfather and the 1972 film of the same name. The character's name is a composite of real Las Vegas mobsters Moe Dalitz, or possibly Moe Sedway, and Gus Greenbaum. However, both Greene's character and personality are actually based on Bugsy Siegel: his affiliation with the mob in Los Angeles, his involvement in the development of Las Vegas, and his flamboyant tendencies. Greene is portrayed in the movie by Alex Rocco.

Moe Sedway

Moe Sedway (1894–1952) was a Jewish-American businessman and mobster. He was an associate of Bugsy Siegel and a faithful lieutenant of organized crime czar Meyer Lansky. He and Gus Greenbaum made the Flamingo Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas very successful after Siegel's murder.

The Bugs and Meyer Mob

The Bugs (Bugsy) and Meyer Mob was a Jewish-American street gang in Manhattan, New York City's Lower East Side. It was formed and headed by mobsters Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky during their teenage years shortly after the start of Prohibition. The Bugs and Meyer mob acted as a predecessor to Murder, Inc.

The Gangster Chronicles

The Gangster Chronicles is an NBC American television crime drama miniseries starring Michael Nouri, Joe Penny, Jon Polito, Louis Giambalvo, Kathleen Lloyd, Madeleine Stowe, Chad Redding, Markie Post, Allan Arbus, James Andronica, Robert Davi, Joseph Mascolo, and narrated by E.G. Marshall.

Tight Spot

Tight Spot is a 1955 American film noir directed by Phil Karlson and written by William Bowers, based on the play Dead Pigeon, by Leonard Kantor. It stars Ginger Rogers, Edward G. Robinson, Brian Keith, Lorne Greene, and Eve McVeagh. The story was inspired by Senator Estes Kefauver's tactics in coercing Virginia Hill to testify in the Bugsy Siegel prosecution.


Transamerica or Transamerican may refer to:

TransAmerica (board game), a railroad board game

The Transamerica or Transamerica Senior Golf Championship, a golf tournament in Napa, California 1989–2002

TransAmerica Athletic Conference

TransAmerica Bicycle Trail

TransAmerica Bike Route, a cross-country bicycle route east of the Mississippi River in the United States

Transamerica (film), a 2005 comedy-drama film

Transamerica (soundtrack), the 2005 film's soundtrack

Transamerica Airlines, a defunct airline which offered charter service from and within the United States

Transamerica Corporation, a holding company for various life insurance companies and investment firms in the United States

Transamerica Plaque, a discontinued annual award in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Transamerica Pyramid, the tallest skyscraper in San Francisco, owned by the Transamerica Corporation

Transamerica Tower (Baltimore)

Transamérica Pop, a Brazilian radio station

Trans America Wire service, a wire transfer service set up by Al Capone with the help of Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel

Virginia Hill

Virginia Hill (born Onie Virginia Hill; August 26, 1916 – March 24, 1966) was an American organized crime figure. An Alabama native, Hill became a Chicago outfit courier during the mid-1930s. Hill was famous for being the girlfriend of mobster Bugsy Siegel.

Whitey Krakow

Whitey Krakow or Krakower (died July 30, 1941) was a New York mobster who served as a hitman for Murder, Inc. during the 1930s. Because he had the same surname as Edith Krakower, the wife of fellow Murder, Inc. member Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, Whitey was sometimes misidentified as her brother and Bugsy's brother-in-law when, in fact, he was not related to either of them.Together with Siegel and Frankie Carbo, Whitey was suspected of the 1939 gangland slaying of Harry "Big Greenie" Greenberg. Later implicated by fellow Murder, Inc. members Abe "Kid Twist" Reles and Allie "Tick Tock" Tannenbaum, he was found shot to death on Manhattan's Delancey Street on July 30, 1941, one of the first members of Murder, Inc. to himself be murdered, although he was not the only one. In the months around his death, Benjamin Tannenbaum, Sidney "Shimmy" Salles, Tony Romanello, and possibly James "Dizzy" Ferraco, were also murdered. After this spate of killings, members of Murder, Inc. began surrendering to authorities.

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