Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lights Out for Mama Siegel's Blue-Eyed Boy

On June 20, 1947 Benjamin Siegel was seated on a flower patterned divan in a spacious living room whose front door address resided at 810 North Linden Drive, Beverly Hills, California.

Looking around his opulent surroundings, and skimming through the evening edition of the Los Angeles Times, Ben Siegel realized he had come a long way from his snot-nosed days in tenements in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and the rough streets of the Lower East Side. Despite the ongoing troubles with The Flamingo; the boys back in New York; and a harrowing last few days of mysterious phone calls and whispered threats, he was feeling pretty good for the first time in weeks. Seated next him was his friend Allen Smiley, known as 'Smiley the Russian' to his pals. The two were relaxed and making small chitchat since returning from a seaside meal earlier that evening.

It was the eve of summer and calm warm winds passed through the windows tickling the drapes. Upstairs, 19 year old Chick Hill, was entertaining one Miss Jerri Mason. Siegel glanced over at the clock on the mantelpiece. It was 10:20 P.M.
His thoughts turned to Virgina Hill. Their last squabble had sent Virginia scuffling off to Paris for a little while until things cooled off between them again. Sure, she was a handful, and sometimes more than not, a pain in the ass. But Benny also knew that she was the only woman who was able to keep up with his ways. And Benny had known a lot of women.
The French called it ' L'Amour Fou'.

Sixty-one years ago, nine bullets crashed through a ground floor window of Virginia Hill's rented mansion, and ended the life of Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel.

Much has been written and said about Siegel. He’s by far the most famous Jewish gangster in popular culture. He’s even been the subject of a major Hollywood film.
And he was definitely the most handsome.
Yet, despite the flash and bravado; the money and the power; the women and the wine; only five people attended his funeral.
Actor and childhood friend George Raft wasn’t there.
Long time partner Meyer Lansky wasn’t there.
Los Angeles right hand man Mickey Cohen wasn’t there.
Even his pal Smiley, who watched him die, wasn’t there.
Neither was Virginia Hill.

Siegel, who had been such a presence and force in many of these and other’s peoples lives, legitimate and otherwise, had been granted the ultimate insult upon his demise.
No flower filled procession of black Cadillac Sedans.
No glowing eulogies.
No show.

Guess Benny’s old crowd had nothing to say.

Only his ex-wife Esta, daughters Millicent and Barbara, and brother Maurice were there to put him to rest. The fifth was Rabbi Kert who recited prayers and the Twenty-third Psalm.


Dominic Bugatto said...

This has to be one of my faves in the series. Love the jacket texture. That must have taken a while eh?

Pat Hamou said...

Thanks Dominic
Its actually one of the older pieces in the series, but wanted to tie it in as post due to the June 20 connection.

That jacket, um, oh yeah there was a few moments when I thought I was gonna go cross-eyed as that pattern can do tricks with your eyes after you stare at it too long...but its worth the end result.
So much of the reference for this material are mostly mug shots, so its always nice when you can get other sources to work from...

Rose Keefe said...

Pat, love your stuff. The Zelig book will be out on October 1- email me when you get a chance.