On the night of June 20, 1947 notorious gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel died in a hail of bullets at 810 North Linden Drive in Beverly Hills—the house was being rented, by mob moll Virginia Hill, a fast-talking, foul-mouthed goddess of glamour, with a penchant for dangerous liaisons. But who was this gangster groupie, and how did a poor girl from rural Alabama get to hang with the mafia in the ritziest neighborhood in America?
Bugsy’s Baby—The Secret Life of Mob Queen Virginia Hill, is an in-depth work by investigative journalist Andy Edmonds. It traces the origins of Hill, focusing on her associations with the Capone era Chicago mob and the New York Syndicate of Charles “Lucky” Luciano. Bugsy’s Baby provides a fascinating insight to the structure of the American Mafia and it’s major players, and relates how a bad girl from deepest Alabama ran rings around all of them.
Young Hill, carried cash for the mob, placing racetrack bets and acting as bagman for their myriad dealings—who would suspect a cute little redhead fresh out of her teens—of such nefarious dealings?
The trouble with fast company is it burns through convention, until morality is fused into a permanent state of overload. The claxon voiced Hill, coming from a life of poverty and abuse, in the depression era south, quickly became addicted to a life of fast cash, diamonds and dangerous sex—a lifestyle that most Americans could only stare at on a movie screen.
Bugsy’s Baby follows Virginia Hill as she heads west to Los Angeles—where the psychopathic Siegel is tasked with monopolizing the west-coast wire [bookmaking] service, and extorting money from movie studios. It is here that we find out just how weak and despicable Bugsy Siegel was—a hair-trigger killer, rapist, and inveterate gambler, who beat and swindled everyone he met.
Then of course there was Las Vegas—a town Siegel was credited with kick starting.
Andy Edmonds is to be commended, as Bugsy’s Baby gives the fullest account yet, of Bugsy Siegel’s misadventures in Las Vegas, including the building of the famous Flamingo Hotel and Casino—named after Hill and her long-legs. We also get a blow-by-blow account of the famous Siegel murder that explains just who killed the mobster and why.
Virginia Hill courted notoriety, she dressed like a film star, had relationships with Errol Flynn and George Raft and many, others, drawing ever more attention, until eventually, she was called before Estes Kefauver’s committee on organized crime, a Mafia show trial that was televised across America.
When asked by the committee how she got “all that money” Hill responded live on television “Because I am the best cocksucker in town!” needless to say Senator Kefauver nearly popped a gasket, as did irate viewers across America. Infamy is no friend of the criminal, as Hill and many others found to their cost.
Hill’s decline and fall is described in detail. This book is a historical testament, cautionary tale, and fast punching crime thriller all rolled into one. For Crimeziners who love stories about the mafia, Bugsy’s Baby is a must.
For committed crime fans with deep pockets, 810 North Linden Drive is currently on the market for $4.3 million. Tell ’em Crimezine sent you.