5 Shots Erase Siegel in Mob Payoff

"Benjamin Bugsy Siegel, 42, died last night, suddenly and violently, with five rifle bullets in his head while the smell of gunpowder mingled with the overwhelming perfume of nightblooming jasmine at the palatial home of Virginia Hill in Beverly Hills' most exclusive section."

- Sunday News, June 21, 1947

Siegel died as he'd lived, in sudden and intense violence. He was a handsome man with a reputation for womanizing that was almost as great as his reputation for shooting people dead. In his last years he had become a darling of Hollywood stars looking for a little excitement. A far cry from where he started.

He began his career with Meyer Lansky on the Lower East Side of Manhattan as an enforcer. Together they formed the Bugs and Meyer Mob, which rented itself out as protection for bootleggers' shipments. Often, they charged almost as much as the shipment was worth. When Lansky moved up the underworld foodchain, Bugsy went with him as a strongarm guy.

Lansky tried to get Siegel installed as chief killer in Murder, Inc., but the other bosses of crime realized this would put Lansky in a position of strength over all of them. Instead, Siegel was sent to Nevada to start the U.S.'s first legal luxury casino, the Pink Flamingo. This probably led to his death. "Rumbles of trouble among various interests with money invested in this $6,000,000 Monte Carlo of Nevada had been circulating around the underworld for several months. It was reported that the boys did not see how they could ever get their money back."

- Sunday News, June 22, 1947

One of his eyeballs was found 15 feet across the room on the tiled floor.

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