Bugsy Loses Out
The Flamingo was an opulent and expensive establishment, too costly for Bugsy's benefactors back East, including his boyhood friend Meyer Lansky. Theoretically, it should have been the best of both worlds. The Mafia could step out of the dark shadows and into the neon light of semi-respectability. They could indulge in familiar vices, but in this oasis in the desert it was all perfectly legal. Bugsy, however, spent far too much money building the Flamingo, and some suggested that he was skimming money off the construction costs and putting it in his own pocket. There were rumblings that his mistress, Virginia Hill, was behind his spending. Siegel lived a lavish lifestyle. He had the grandiose ambition to outdo Clark Gable and Cary Grant as Hollywood's latest leading man.
Mafiosi were not above mixing business with pleasure. Mob boss Sam Giancana, in addition to being a pal of Frank Sinatra, also reportedly had a long-term relationship with Phyllis McGuire of the popular singing group the McGuire Sisters.
An Eye for an Eye
Bugsy Siegel's mismanagement and possible outright thievery earned the wrath of the boys back East, including Meyer Lansky. Their $1 million investment had ballooned to $6 million, with no sign of a profit in the foreseeable future. Mob mythos has it that Lansky stayed the inevitable execution twice, but ultimately endorsed the execution of Bugsy Siegel.
Things seemed to be headed up at the splashy opening of the Flamingo. Hundreds of patrons, including mobsters and movie stars, made it clear to Bugsy that his time and effort had paid off. But the Flamingo's rise was going to be at the expense of Bugsy's fall. No matter how successful the casino would be, Bugsy's time had run out.
Some underworld figures in Vegas stole from the mob without them knowing. Eddie Trascher, the fastest hands in Vegas, devised numerous ways to steal chips while he was a dealer in mobbed-up casinos. He would sew a pocket in the sleeve of his jacket and flick the chips in so fast that the camera couldn't even catch him.
A Shot in the Dark
On June 20, 1947, Bugsy was in the posh Hollywood home of his mistress Virginia Hill reading the paper. He was relaxing in his suit, not aware that a gunman was perched outside the window. The calm summer night was shattered by the sounds of gunfire as Bugsy was pumped full of lead and died; he was just forty-one years old. The force of the hit was so substantial that one of Bugsy's baby blue eyes was found at the other end of the room. Bugsy was gone, but Las Vegas was just getting started.
Who was the most famous gangster ‘moll’ in history?
That would have to be Virginia Hill. A Georgian by birth, Hill moved up to Chicago where she became involved with a series of wise guys from Al Capone to Frank Nitti. Along the way she started dabbling in some rackets herself. When she went out to Los Angeles she hooked up with Siegel and became his constant companion, except on the night of his death. When questioned by authorities she was baffled, “I can't imagine who shot him and why.”