Thriller Thursday: Does Bugsy Siegel Live On At The Flamingo Hotel?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Since Light and Dark is set in Las Vegas and mob history plays a small but significant part in the book, I decided to dedicate today's Thriller Thursday post to one of Vegas's founding fathers, Bugsy Siegel.

Born in 1906 in Brooklyn, New York, Siegel became involved with the Genovese crime family, one of the legendary "Five Families" that dominated New York City's organized crime. With ties to "Lucky" Luciano, future boss of the Genovese family, Siegel became a bootlegger and was involved in various NYC crimes, including the killing of mob boss Joe Masseria. After a series of mishaps and arrests, Siegel moved to Nevada in the hopes of legitimizing himself.

It was this move that cemented his reputation and eventually, his murder.

LasVegas grew from the work of mobsters looking to expand their territories and wallets. Siegel and his cohorts decided to bet on The Flamingo, a new hotel and casino. Virginia Hill, a famous Hollywood actress, is said to have been sent to Vegas by Meyer Lanksy and Lucky Luciano to ensure Siegel didn't cut profits or shortchange them in any way. She seduced Siegel and settled nicely into the role of his girlfriend. They became major social figures, and Virginia Hill's dyed red hair is said to be the inspiration for the new casino's name.

By 1946, Siegel had spent a ton of money on The Flamingo, and his partners were frothing at the mouth. They wanted to see some return on their investment. Siegel was forced to open The Flamingo before it was complete.

Doors opened on December 26, 1946. In just two weeks, the tables were in the red $275,000, and the operation was shut down in less than a month.

Mob bosses have little patience for screw-ups, and Siegel was already on a short list. His friend Meyer Lansky managed to beg a second chance, but it would turn out to be Siegel's last.

Virginia reported to Lansky and Luciano that Siegel was stealing money from their casino profits. Legend says Lanksy told hill to take a short vacation so that Siegel could be "dealt with." She invited Siegel to stay at her private mansion while she took a three week tripto Europe. On June 26, 1947, Siegel invited his friend Allen Smiley to visit. Siegel was reading a newspaper when the rapid-fire of gunshots burst through the quiet. Eight bullets screamed through the front window, and when the air cleared, Siegel was dead.

He was hit several times, twice in the head. One shot penetrated Siegel's right cheek and came out on the left side of his neck. The other shattered the right bridge of the nose at the eye sock. Siegel's eye popped out of its socket and was found 15 feet away.

A .30 caliber M1 carbine was used in the murder, but the culprit has never been found. The mob at its finest.

Since his death, sightings of Bugsy Siegel's ghost have run rampant. The Flamingo's Presidential Suite was a favorite haunt. Siegel had visited the suite several times before he was killed and is said to have played pool there often. His ghost has been seen near the green bidet, toilets, and linoleum in the two bathrooms of the suite-the very same ones Siegel personally picked.

He's also seen inthe evening watching guests lounge by the pool and always described the same way: handsome, intense eyes, wearing a smoking jacket and slacks.

The last remnant of the original hotel, including Siegel's personal suite, was demolished in 1993. His ghost is still seen by guest and employees.

He's been sighted in the rose garden near his memorial plaque, in the Penthouse Suite, and in the wedding chapel.
One honeymooning couple took a romantic stroll through the hotel's inner courtyard around 4:00 a.m. They couple claims a transparent image of Bugsy in a suit waved and winked at them.
The Monument to Bugsy Siegel at The Flamingo Hilton. He's often seen near it.

As for Virginia Hill, she reported fainted when she heard of Siegel's demise. She refused to return to the States, and Lanksy and Luciano eventually discovered she had millions stashed away, most likely from The Flamingo.

Does Bugsy Siegel really haunt The Flamingo's rooms and grounds? The hotel denies it, but more than one employee has left after claiming to see Siegel's ghost.

What do you think? Is Bugsy really trolling the grounds of The Flamingo after all these years?


Anonymous said...

Very well done. Bugsy was a mess after he got shot up. If you've never seen the crime scene photos, they're shocking. As for the haunting, this was the first time I'd heard of it. I love learning about something new, and it's going to be an effort to do my work instead of trolling the internet for Bugsy ghost stories. Thanks for a fun post. :D

Jen J. Danna said...

What a great story. And the take home message is don't be messing with us Italians! ;) The ghost story was totally new to me though. Interesting twist!

Stacy said...

I have seen the photos. Pretty gruesome. I hadn't heard of the haunting either, but it's very interesting. You know I love a good ghost story:)

Thanks for commenting. Yes, you Italians are definitely not ones to mess with!

Jenny Hansen said...

Love hauntings! I never knew that Bugsy was part of the team to open The Flamingo...what a nifty post, Stacy. :-)

Stacy said...

Thanks, Jenny. Yep, Bugsy Siegel was a big part of early Vegas. Lots of different versions about exactly what went wrong, but all are interesting.
Thanks for coming by!

Anonymous said...

GREAT post! I love it. Sorry that I'm just now getting to your Thursday post on a Monday...but better late than never?

I TOTALLY hope Bugsy is haunting the Flamingo. Bugsy is Vegas :)

Stacy said...

That's ok. Thank you so much for stopping by. This is one of my favorite posts so Im' glad you liked it.

Yep, Bugsy is Vegas. Seeing his cost would be really cool.

Annie Boreson said...

Wow...Bugsy sightings! I would love to see him flying around the Flamingo. Once again, fun to read!

Stacy said...

I would, too. Definitely a story that wouldn't stay in Vegas. Thanks!

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