Dinning With The Celebs
Bugsy loved aristocracy, flamboyance, and the high-class life of extravagance. He was to find these in the highest circles of the Hollywood where he befriended the celebrities, the stars and the dazzling women of the time.
The likes of Jack Warner, Louis B. Meyer, Jean Harlow, Italian Countess Dorothy DiFrasso and Germany's Benito Mussolini were among his circle of friends. From his Beverly Hills home he threw lavish parties and bought up more real estate.
There in Hollywood, Siegel was at it again with one of the most powerful rackets built with the help of the crime syndicates. He gambled it all, took over local unions to exploit movie studios and intimidated movie stars and celebrities into lending him loans that he never paid back, receiving over $400,000 at a time.
The Gambling Empire and the Mysterious Gunman
After his trial for the murder of Harry "Big Greenie" Greenberg, Benjamin Siegel had lost the respectability and credibility needed to move to the phase of his dream. His next move was to explore the concept of big businesses through legitimate means. He eyed gambling big time.
The plain "Valley of Vegas" offered him that opportunity. In Las Vegas's plain desert, William R. Wilkerson was constructing his hotel. Lansky mandated Siegel to explore expanding business operations to provide services to the construction crews of Hover Dam in Southern Nevada in 1934. Being uncomfortable with the service, Bugsy fled back to Hollywood and allowed Moe Sedway to take over the operations.
Flamingo Hotel in the plains of Vegas, the Mob needed someone to protect their interest in the project, and Siegel was a perfect choice. He only accepted the deal on the insistence of Lansky. Yet Siegel had his eyes on Los Angeles where his foot soldiers where working to secure all gambling operations.
However, being who he was - an infamous figure of brutality and violence, Siegel was later to intimidate William R. Wilkerson into abandoning the project for Siegel. He opted for a new agreement to give him total control of the project in which he would be in charge of major supplies and services to the Flamingo Hotel. He gambled William R. Wilkerson's remaining stake by offering to buy Williams’ Creative participation with a 5% corporate stock which he never honored.
Williams later fled after a series of threats from Siegel. To tighten his control, Bugsy founded and named himself President of the Nevada Project Corporation of California where he made himself the only principal shareholder. Now Flamingo Hotel and Casino is Siegel's own.
Bugsy's inexperience in the construction industry was soon to cost him a lot. Construction materials were looted and the costs inflated by contractors. Soon, the cost of the Flamingo had ballooned from its initial estimate of $1 million to $6 million!
The mob bosses had their funds stuck in the Flamingo project which Siegel had arrogated its ownership and the control of the California syndicate to himself. Now they are running out of patience with Siegel and wanted him out of the way to recover their funds.
However, Lansky was always there to buy more time for Siegel. Under intense pressure to avoid bankruptcy, Siegel opened the Flamingo uncompleted on December 26, 1946, with just a few Hollywood stars present. His aim was to start making money with the casino, but by January 1947, the hotel had a deficit of $275,000 and therefore went off services.
Benjamin Bugsy Siegel was a dogged fighter and a defiant spirit. By March of 1947 he reopened the Flamingo Hotel and Casino, and profits started pouring in. It was time to relax and enjoy his labor, or so he thought.
Unfortunately, as the night fell on June 20, 1947, Bugsy Siegel was never to see his greatest legacy to the gambling world again as a mysterious gunman fired many shots at him as Bugsy glanced through a Los Angeles Times newspaper in the company of an associate, Allen Smiley. Bugsy paid for the other side of his life, but his history of involvement in the gambling industry in Vegas will forever keep a page on him in gold!