On June 20, 1947, infamous mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was shot and killed in Beverly Hills, California. This year marks the 75th anniversary of his murder, which is remembered as one of the most famous gangland killings in history. While Bugsy’s life was filled with violence and illegal activities, it also reminded entrepreneurs of how hard work and ambition can lead to success—even if that path is not always legal.
The Rise of Bugsy Siegel
Born in 1906 in Brooklyn, New York, Benjamin Siegel got his start in organized crime at an early age. He quickly rose through the ranks of the notorious Jewish street gang, the Bugs-Meyer Gang (which he eventually took over). During this time, he earned his nickname “Bugsy” due to his notoriously short temper. By 1928 he had become a major player in New York’s criminal underworld, running bootlegging rings and controlling gambling operations throughout the city.
In 1931 Siegel relocated to Los Angeles, where he continued to expand his criminal empire. He quickly gained influence with local politicians and police officers who helped him further his goals.
Enforcing Labor Disputes for Jack Warner
During this time, he met future movie mogul Jack Warner (of Warner Bros.), who hired him as an enforcer for the studio’s labor disputes. In addition to these duties, Siegel also acted as a sort of consultant for Warner Bros., giving them advice on how to make their movies more successful—which often involved using flashy cinematography techniques that were popular at the time.
Siegel’s greatest accomplishment came in 1945 when he purchased a large plot of land just outside Las Vegas called Las Vegas Rancho—which would later become known as Las Vegas Strip. With construction beginning shortly thereafter, Siegel set out to create what would become one of America’s most iconic destinations—the Flamingo Hotel & Casino.
Shot Dead By Murderers Unknown
Bugsy made his final stand before being gunned down two years later by unknown assailants at the home he leased for his mistress, Virginia Hill, in Beverly Hills. On the night of June 20, 1947, the assailants killed Bugsy with two shots to the head using an M1 Carbine. Unfortunately, this heinous crime remains unsolved today. The house was recently listed by its current owners, Joel Aronowitz, MD, and Fiona Schalom.
Although Bugsy’s story ends violently, it has some inspirational elements — showing us what can be accomplished with ambition and drive. His incredible rise from street thug to real estate mogul proves that success doesn’t always come easy or without risk. Still, by taking risks and pushing boundaries, you can achieve greatness even if your chosen path isn’t always legal or accepted by society. So this week, let’s remember Bugsy’s legacy—a man who built empires with nothing more than determination and grit. But then he died at the hands of his unidentified enemies.