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You Dirty,Dirty Rat

Rogues Gallery Uncovered

Episode 16

Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegal


NEVADA 1947

Bugsy was a handsome guy, a real Cary Grant but he don't look so good now. The bullet hit him on the bridge of his nose and blew his left eyeball clean out - they reckon they found it lying fifteen feet away from the sofa. Another went into his cheek and came out of his neck, he took a couple more in the chest - made a real mess of the upholstery. I guess it goes to show that no one's immune when you're in debt to the mob, I mean one minute you sat in your girlfriend's pad reading a newspaper the next they're looking for your baby blues underneath the furniture. I can't say I'm surprised, I mean who in his right mind thinks he can make money out of a one-horse town like Las Vegas? The newspapers called him “Bugsy” because he was crazy as a bedbug but if you’d said that to his face well, you'd be needing a new one of your own - if you know what I mean. He certainly had a temper; you know once, when he was sat around a table with some of the guys playing poker, he caught one of em cheating. Now you or I might have had a few harsh words to say, maybe even roughed him up a little – after all it’s only a friendly game but Bugsy wasn’t that kind of guy. Without missing a beat he pulls out his gun and shoots the guy three times, then he props the corpse back up at the card table and carries on playing as if nothing’s happened. An if that don’t beat all, when the guy failed to bet his turn - on account of being dead - Bugsy shot him again. Shoulda’ stuck with craps[1], there’s less chance of getting killed. Bugsy grew up in Brooklyn and started running rackets in his teens. His gang would threaten to torch peddler's barrows unless they paid protection money - I certainly wouldn't want to see my livelihood go up in smoke on account of some punk kids. When Bugsy met his best friend Maya Lansky, they started a bootleg operation together - all of this before he was twenty years old. Everyone agreed though that for a young guy he had guts and he thought fast. When the shit hit the fan, Bugsy would be shooting while you were still scratching your balls. And he was smart too, he once hid Al Capone from the cops, which got him on the bag man’s good side and he made a pal outta Lucky Luciano by working for him as a hitman. You ask me “was he one of the guys who shot Joe Masseria and Salvatori Maranzano?” well I ain't saying…but yeah, probably. Bugsy was certainly never short of female company - plenty of dough, an apartment at the Waldorf Astoria, sharp suits and a reputation as a cold-blooded killer sure gets the dames wet. In the 30s he was all over New York clubland and never with the same broad twice. The Two o’clock Club, The Napoleon, Zelli's, The Park Avenue and The Stalk, he was welcomed at em all. During Prohibition he must have gone thought half the showgirls on Broadway, but it was when he came to Hollywood that he really started to play in the big leagues. You see, Bugsy had a major rep as a founder of Murder Incorporated - who were a bit like general motors only they killed people. By the late 30s he'd got himself into a beef with a guy called Tony Fabrizzo who was threatening to blow the whistle on the whole murder-for-hire business. Somebody needed to shut him up, and fast! Bugsy decided to take care of business himself. He very publicly checked himself into hospital - to give himself a cast iron alibi - then after lights out he crept out the back door and visited Fabrizzo’s home with a few of the boys disguised as policemen. Fabrizzo let em in and let’s just say that things didn’t go so well for him after that. Once the job was over, Bugsy crept back into his hospital bed and no one was any the wiser…. but when the news broke everyone knew who’d whacked him whether they could prove it or not. When Fabrizzo’s men came looking for revenge, the mob sent Bugsy to California so he could lie low for a while. The actor George Raft was a pal of his which was cute because he was famous for playing gangsters in the movies. He introduced Bugsy to all the stars - Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper – you name em, he knew em. Many fell for Bugsy’s charm, many more were just too scared not to be his pal. Jimmy Stewart though thought he was a bum and wasn't afraid to say so which used to drive Bugsy crazy. It's a good thing he had plenty of women to keep him nice and relaxed. There was a tiny French broad called Ketti Gallian[2] - she was a wild cat who'd made a few movies in Europe and was trying to break big over here. Bugsy spent $50,000 trying to get her American career off the ground but nothing came of it so she went back to France. He also had a thing for Jean Harlow who apparently was brought to his room for an introduction by her own stepfather – I heard he made a habit of rustling up women for his Hollywood buddies to seduce and would then sit at the foot of the bed watching, while they fucked em. You know Dale Arden in the Flash Gordon comic strip? Well Bugsy screwed her too - actually he screwed Marie “The Body” McDonald, an actress who used to model for Alex Raymond when he was drawing the strip – lucky guy. Then there was the English actress Wendy Barrie[3] who had a reputation for being a bit of a nymphomaniac and wasn't shy in telling people how Bugsy could go all night. She sure enjoyed male attention but Bugsy was the jealous type and she had to keep her mouth closed and her hands-to herself or she coulda got someone killed. Dorothy DiFrasso was a millionaire's daughter who was married to an Italian count but it didn't stop him sleeping with her either. They went to Rome once and tried to sell Mussolini some sort of new bomb, only it wouldn't blow up, so the deal fell through. While they were there, DiFrasso introduced Bugsy to Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebbels - he hated those sons of bitches so much she had to sweet talk him out of whacking them there and then. His main squeeze though was Virginia Hill, a real beauty who worked for the mob as a high-class courier and messenger girl. She had some real powerful boyfriends, was said to have the most fur coats of any woman in America and was legendary and I mean legendary for giving the best head on the East Coast. She and Bugsy spent their time fighting and fucking - it was real volatile. The mob never let women into their inner circle normally, but they welcomed Virginia. It might have had something to do with her being tough and smart or -if you’re not the charitable type – it’s because she’s supposed to have blown a bunch of em one after another at a Christmas party in 1936, who knows? I’ll never forget the story of when Bugsy had four of his women all staying at the same hotel at the same time, Virginia spotted one of them in the lobby and went nuts. She walked over and punched the broad in the face so hard she nearly dislocated her jaw. It was at Virginia's house where Bugsy got shot full of holes. How he came to Vegas makes for a pretty good story too, shame the endings not too happy. The story goes that one day back in 46’ Bugsy stopped in the desert to take a piss and saw a half-built hotel called The Flamingo abandoned in a one-horse gambling town called Las Vegas. In a moment of inspiration, Bugsy saw the place as his chance to make a fortune and get respectable so he bought it and poured millions and millions of dollars of mob money into making it a real classy joint. Trouble was, hardly anybody came to the opening night and it lost $300,000 in his first week. The mob wanted their money back or else but Bugsy thought he was invincible - I guess this proves he aint. So now The Flamingo is under new management and it's up to the big boys to see if they can make a few bucks out of Las Vegas – I’m sure not holding my breath.

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