Virginia Hill
Born (1916-08-26)August 26, 1916
Lipscomb, Alabama, U.S.
Died March 24, 1966(1966-03-24) (aged 49)
Koppl, Salzburg, Austria
Nationality American

Virginia Hill (August 26, 1916 – March 24, 1966) was an American organized crime figure. A Chicago Outfit courier, she was famous for being the girlfriend of Genovese crime family mobster Bugsy Siegel, following the breakdown of his marriage.[1] Template:Nobots Template:Copyviocore

Early life[edit | edit source]

Virginia Hill was born in Lipscomb, Alabama, one of 10 siblings. As a child, she moved with her mother and two other siblings to Marietta, Georgia. Her mother, after remarrying, later left her and her grandparents to take care of other siblings in the family. Various early accounts of her family life recalls her family situation during her early childhood as highly volitale, where her father, who was a farmer, was by all accounts, an alcholic and abusive to Virgina's mother and siblings; reportedly at one point, when Virginia was seven years old, while physically assaulting her mother and attempting to assault her, Virginia, holding a skillet with scolding hot grease, threatened to burn him if he ever touched her or her mother again. This event hastened her mother's move of her and two of Virginia's siblings to Marietta to live with Virginia's maternal grandparents. As a teen, the by then lovely, leggy blossoming young Virginia quickly began to earn a reputation amongst the young boys in the Marietta community where she was raised as somewhat of a fast girl, one who was "easy", quickly willing to turn sexual favors, sometimes for money.[2][3]

Early criminal career[edit | edit source]

At the age of 17, Hill dropped out of high school and moved to Chicago in aspirations of performing in perhaps Vaudeville as a performer; this led her to try to find work at 1933 World's Fair in hopes of getting a job as a showgirl, and possibly getting discovered by Hollywood or Broadway stage producer types that appeared there. While working a waitress at posh restaurant there, she met a gangster named Joseph Epstein, lieutenant of mafia financier Jake Guzik, and became his mistress and party hostess. During this time, Virginia also dated mobsters Frank Costello, Frank Nitti, Tony Accardo and Joe Adonis. Also during this time, she would meet with various members of the gang of notourious mobster Al Capone, this, as well her other Chicago connections, would open her up to various connections to New York City mob figures. With these associations she became a courier, or, in mafia terms, a "bag woman", where as she squirrelled funds into Swiss bank accounts for such figures as Brooklyn mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel; it did not take long for Hill's involvement with Siegel to develop into a romantic relationship. Although Hill would later deny it, through her association with Siegel she was able purchase a new home for her grandparents in Marietta for $10,000 - in cash.[4][5]

Relationship with Bugsy Siegel[edit | edit source]

In 1942, in hopes of getting discovered in Hollywood, Hill moved to California, met up again with Siegel, who by this time had also relocated there with his wife and daughters. They would rekindle their adulterous affair; she would became his most steady mistress. Reputedly they fought as much as they made love, but Siegel did not stop his womanizing. There are rumors that they were secretly married in Mexico but Siegel never divorced his wife Esta. Siegel's nickname for Hill was "the Flamingo," for her skill at fellatio (oral sex). [6]

The Flamingo Hotel casino project/Hill's connection to Siegel death[edit | edit source]

Siegel desired to be a legitimate businessman, but the respectability he craved was beyond his reach. In spring 1946, he saw an opportunity to achieve legitimacy in William R. Wilkerson's Flamingo Hotel. Siegel had traveled to Southern Nevada in 1934 with Meyer Lansky's lieutenant Moe Sedway, on Lansky's orders to explore expanding operations. There were opportunities in providing illicit services to the crews constructing the Hoover Dam. Lansky had turned the desert over to Siegel. But Siegel, wanting nothing to do with it, turned it over to Moe Sedway and fled for Hollywood. Lansky pressured Siegel to represent them in Wilkerson's desert project. Someone had to watchdog their interests. Siegel, who knew Wilkerson and lived near him in Beverly Hills, was the obvious choice as a liaison, but Siegel was infuriated. He wanted no part in any operation that took him back to Nevada permanently. It meant forsaking Beverly Hills and playboy life and enduring the heat of Nevada. At Lansky's insistence, however, Siegel consented. The project for the new posh hotel would be named the "Flamingo", the nickname Siegel gave to his mistress Virginia Hill. At this time, while Siegel lined things up in Las Vegas in the early 1940s, his lieutenants were working on a business policy to secure all gambling in Los Angeles.

Perhaps through the fear of being upstaged by Wilkerson in the Flamingo Hotel project, which would begin construction in 1945, or the need to control, Siegel began to demand more involvement in the project. To keep the project moving, Wilkerson agreed that Siegel would supervise the hotel while Wilkerson retained control of everything else.

On June 20, 1946, Siegel formed the Nevada Project Corporation of California, naming himself president. He was also the largest principal stockholder in the operation, which defined everyone else merely as shareholders (William Wilkerson was eventually coerced into selling all stakes in the Flamingo under threat of death, and went into hiding in Paris for a time). From this point the Flamingo became syndicate-run.

Siegel would then embark on an exorbitant spending spree, staggering at even today's costs. He demanded only the finest building materials at a time of wartime shortages. Adding to the budgetary over-runs were problems with shady contractors and disgruntled unpaid builders. By day, trucks delivered black market goods. By night the same materials were pilfered and resold to Siegel a few days later. As costs soared, Siegel's checks began bouncing. By October 1946, the costs had soared above $4 million. In spring 1947, the Flamingo would clock in at over $6 million; this, coupled with his defiance to the New York Syndicate bosses orders, would anger them to the point where they were moved to want to eliminate him, but, initially they were patient with Bugsy because he had always been proven to be a valuable profits man.[7] .

By begging the mob bosses to give his friend a second chance, fellow New York mobster and land developer Meyer Lansky was able give a time extension for Bugsy on the Flamingo project. After being granted a second chance, Bugsy cracked down and did everything possible to turn the Flamingo into a success. After initially opening in fall 1946 with financial losses, it reopened in March, 1947 and began turning a profit. However, by the time profits began improving the mob bosses above Bugsy were tired of waiting.[8] On the night of June 20, 1947, as Siegel sat with his associate Allen Smiley in Hill's Beverly Hills home reading the Los Angeles Times, an unknown assailant fired at him through the window with a .30-caliber military M1 carbine, hitting him many times, including twice in the head (Smith). [9]

According to various sources, Hill was reportedly threatened by members of New York mob bosses in the days leading up to Siegel's murder with the instructions to "hop on a plane to Chicago and to not return to California". No one was ever charged with Siegel's murder, and the case has remained unsolved. [10] [11]

The Kefauver hearings[edit | edit source]

In 1951, Hill was subpoenaed to testify before the Kefauver hearings and denied having any knowledge of organized crime.[12] Described by Time magazine as the "queen of the gangsters' molls", she told investigators that her income came from gifts her boyfriends gave her because of her sexual prowess.[13][14]

Later years and death[edit | edit source]

Hill spent her remaining years in Europe because she was accused by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of failing to pay $161,000 in income tax and indicted on June 23, 1954.[12] In her last years, when she was separated from her husband, she was supported by their only child, Peter Hauser, who worked as a waiter. She died of an overdose of sleeping pills,[15] an apparent suicide, in Koppl, near Salzburg, Austria on March 24, 1966 at the age of 49.[12] Her body was found in a lone area by a bridge crossing the "Alterbach," a small stream. Hill is buried in Aigen Cemetery in Salzburg.[16]

According to Andy Edmonds' biography Bugsy's Baby: The Secret Life of Mob Queen Virginia Hill, Hill's death was suspicious, since her body was found outdoors, near a brook, two days after she met with a former lover, former Genovese family boss Joe Adonis, who reportedly had her escorted home with two of his bodyguards. The Austrian media, which were well informed about her former relationship with Siegel, speculated that she tried to get money by using her knowledge of the Italian-American Mafia and the Mexican drug cartels.[17][clarification needed]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Murder in Beverly Hills, Time magazine, June 30, 1947
  2. Virginia Hill at the La Cosa Nostra Database (LACNDB)
  3. A&E's "American Justice" program episode, "Mob Ladies.", episode 41.(2006)
  4. Virginia Hill at the La Cosa Nostra Database (LACNDB)
  5. A&E's "American Justice" program episode, "Mob Ladies.", episode 41.(2006)
  6. Virginia Hill at the La Cosa Nostra Database (LACNDB)
  7. A&E's "Mobsters" program episode, "Murder, Inc." (2006)
  8. PBS program special "Bugsy".
  9. A&E's "Mobsters" program episode, "Murder, Inc." (2006)
  10. "Siegel, Gangster, Is Slain On Coast. Co-chief of 'Bug and Meyer Mob' Here. Is Victim of Shots Fired Through Window.". New York Times. June 22, 1947, Sunday. Retrieved October 31, 2007.
  11. A&E's "American Justice" program episode, "Mob Ladies", episode 41.(2006)
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 "Virginia Hill, 49, Dead in Austria". The New York Times: 57. 25 March 1966. 
  13. Investigations: Crime Hunt in Foley Square, Time magazine, March 26, 1951
  14. Time magazine reported in its obituary of Hill on April 1, 1966, that Hill spent her time on the witness stand "boggling Senators with her full-grown curves and succinct explanation of just why men would lavish money on a hospitable girl from Bessemer, Ala."
  15. Newton, Michael (2009). Mr. Mob: The Life and Crimes of Moe Dalitz. McFarland. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-7864-3516-6. Retrieved July 5, 2010. 
  16. "Virginia Hill". Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  17. Compare the Salzburger Nachrichten, Salzburger Volksblatt (defunct since 1979) and the illustrated newspaper Bunte made by Burda – Offenburg in Germany from spring 1966.

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Edmonds, Andy. Bugsy's Baby : The Secret Life of Mob Queen Virginia Hill. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Publishing Group, 1993. ISBN 1-55972-164-2

External links[edit | edit source]

Template:American Mafia

ja:ヴァージニア・ヒル pl:Virginia Hill ru:Вирджиния Хилл uk:Вірджинія Хілл

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