The Man Who Created Las Vegas, Benjamin Siegel

Before he was ruthlessly murdered down in 1947, legendary Jewish-American gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel helped develop the Las Vegas Strip.

Bugsy Siegel was one of America’s most renowned gangsters in the 1930s and 1940s. In New York, he led gambling and bootlegging ring, in Los Angeles, he brushed shoulders with movie stars, and in Las Vegas, he poured money into developing hotels. His violent pleasures, on the other hand, had violent outcomes.

More than anything else, Siegel is remembered for how he died, rather than how he lived. Siegel had moved his attention to the Las Vegas desert, where a sprinkling of casinos and hotels seemed to signal future riches for him, after establishing himself as a formidable criminal presence on both coasts.

Siegel put his millions into the project after persuading his underworld connections to assist him resume the development of the Flamingo hotel. However, Siegel was assassinated at his girlfriend’s Beverly Hills home just six months after the Flamingo opened its doors.

This is Bugsy Siegel’s life biography, as well as his terrible death.

Behind the Scenes of Bugsy Siegel’s Ascension to Power

Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was born in New York City on February 28, 1906, to Jewish immigrants. Siegel grew up in an impoverished home and rapidly turned to crime as a way to make money and maintain himself.

On the Lower East Side of Manhattan, he experimented in thievery and extorted Jewish pushcart peddlers, and made friends with like-minded people, including future crime boss Meyer Lansky. Siegel and Lansky founded the “Bugs and Meyers Mob,” bootlegged whiskey with mobsters, and even conducted a hit-for-hire business that became known as “Murder Inc.”

Meyer Lansky, Bugsy’s business partner

Meanwhile, Siegel developed a reputation for his fury and mood swings, earning him the moniker “crazy as a bedbug” from pals. However, according to the History Channel, Siegel despised his well-known moniker.

He once quipped, “My buddies call me Ben.” “Strangers refer to me as Mr. Siegel, and guys I don’t like refer to me as Bugsy, but not in front of me.”

But, whatever he was named, it was evident that Siegel was a major league player. Siegel was most likely one of four men that assassinated Giuseppe “Joe the Boss” Masseria in 1931, working with Mafia boss Charles “Lucky” Luciano, as well as Frank Costello, Albert Anastasia, and Vito Genovese.

Siegel also made sure he looked the part. He dressed high-end clothing, frequented exclusive clubs, and even purchased an apartment in Manhattan’s opulent Waldorf Astoria Towers.

Bugsy Siegel had essentially ruled New York by 1937. The mob then dispatched him to Los Angeles to carry out the identical deed on the West Coast.

Moving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas

Bugsy Siegel thrived in Los Angeles. He built up gambling dens and offshore gambling ships, drug shipments (he may have started the drugs trade between the US and Mexico), and other illegal activities, according to Britannica. When he wasn’t growing his “company,” Siegel went after mobster informant Harry Greenberg and his own brother-in-law Whitey Krakow, who had too much information about the Greenberg hit.

Siegel also enjoyed his time in Los Angeles, where he met cinematic stars such as Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, and Jean Harlow. Some speculate that Siegel considered pursuing a career as an actor himself.

But, in the end, Siegel was focused on the bottom line. Around 1946, he learned about a business opportunity in Las Vegas, where a hotel and casino called the Flamingo was under development but had ran out of cash.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, Siegel admired the success of a resort called El Rancho Vegas, which is now located on the Las Vegas Strip. He came to the conclusion that he could do the same thing with the Flamingo. He only needed the money.

The Flamingo Casino

As a result, Bugsy Siegel contacted his underworld contacts, including his old pal Meyer Lansky. He inadvertently told the mobsters that the hotel could be built for only $1 million more than its original $1.2 million budget.

The Flamingo’s building expenses, however, quickly skyrocketed. The Flamingo cost $6 million to build due to Siegel’s incompetence and his girlfriend Virginia Hill’s constant misappropriation of finances.

To make matters worse, a downpour on the Flamingo’s opening day made for a low-key celebration, with none of Siegel’s Hollywood pals present. And the gamblers who did turn up claimed to have struck it rich, earning more than $300,000 in the first two weeks of the hotel’s operation.

Though Bugsy Siegel eventually turned things around — the Flamingo was profitable by the spring of 1947 – mobsters were reputedly enraged by the hotel’s price. Siegel, in their opinion, had made a grave error. And, according to some, they’d make him pay with his life.

Bugsy Siegel’s Brutal Death

Bugsy Siegel was innocently reading a newspaper at Virginia Hill’s Beverly Hills house on June 20, 1947, when a barrage of gunshots shattered the window. With a.30 carbine, an unidentified gunman fired nine shots, striking Siegel four times and knocking an eye out of its socket.

He was reading newspaper when he was shot

Who was Bugsy Siegel’s killer? No one knows for sure who killed the mobster to this day. According to the Las Vegas Sun, enraged mobsters gathered in Havana, Cuba, to decide Siegel’s fate. In 1947, the men, including Siegel’s friend Lansky, voted to fire him.

His mismanagement of the Flamingo, as well as the millions of cash he had cost them, was too great a sin for them to overlook. According to the Las Vegas Sun, hitmen Frankie Carbo and Frankie Carranzo were dispatched to complete the task.

However, not everyone believes the mob was responsible for Bugsy Siegel’s death. A alternative scenario was proposed in a 2014 story in LA Mag, one that had more to do with a love triangle than Siegel’s enraged associates.

According to one scenario, Siegel was slain by a truck driver named Mathew “Moose” Pandza. Why? He was head over heels in love with the wife of mobster Moe Sedway, who was in charge of the Flamingo’s building expenditures. Siegel reportedly despised the oversight and wanted Sedway fired.

“I’ll shoot Moe, slice up his body, and feed it to the garbage disposal at the Flamingo Hotel,” Siegel allegedly said.

When Sedway’s wife, Bee, learned about this, she sought assistance from Pandza. Pandza agreed, according to hours of interviews with the Sedway family. He went out and got a gun, practiced shooting it in the desert, and sneaked up Hill’s driveway, shooting the mobster through the window.

However, Sgt. Max Lubin of the Beverly Hills Police Department told People that the investigation was still underway. Lubin explained, “We’re not publishing any details about it since it’s still an open matter.” “It has never been shut down.”

Hotel Flamingo today

In the end, Bugsy Siegel’s greatest legacy may be the city of Las Vegas. He wasn’t the first — or the last — to attempt to construct a hotel in the desert. However, as the Las Vegas Strip took shape, Siegel’s horrific murder may have cemented Sin City’s dark and fascinating reputation.

Meyer Lansky biographer Robert Lacey noted, “Ben Siegel did not invent the luxury resort-casino.” “He was not the one who discovered the Las Vegas Strip. He did not purchase the site or come up with the idea for the Flamingo. But, by the time he died, he had made them all renowned.”

2 thoughts on “The Man Who Created Las Vegas, Benjamin Siegel

  • June 26, 2022 at 1:35 pm
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    The house in the article is still there.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2022 at 10:50 pm
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    Watching the movie, he died leaving a good wife and two beautiful daughters… I think this act of being smitten by Virginia was his undoing – mixing business with pleasure – and the top bosses were well aware of this weakness as a ‘chink in his armor’. Nevertheless, they feared him enough to not face him and piss him off but put an unexpected hit on him. There’s really no honor among thieves. And there are many more similar gangster stories.

    Reply

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