Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ben "Bugsy" Siegel, Virginia Hill and Miami Beach


For more Florida history visit my other blog, 

By Jane Feehan

Ben “Bugsy” Siegel (b. 1906) was shot dead in the rented Beverly Hills home of girlfriend Virginia Hill in 1947 while she was partying in Paris.  The girl from Alabama liked to party in many cities and Miami Beach was one of them.

During Hill’s early days with the Chicago mob, she caught the eye of trucking and oil millionaire - and mob front man - Major Arterburn Riddle who took her on a vacation to Miami Beach; it was probably her first time there.  When she hooked up with Siegel, he bought her a house from publisher William Randolph Hearst’s son at Number One Sunset Isle in Miami Beach.

After Siegel’s murder, which was never solved, Hill’s brother Charles “Chick” Hill and his girlfriend Jerri Mason, took refuge at his sister’s Miami Beach home. Virginia made her way back to the U.S. and headed for Sunset Isle. While in South Florida, she bought a $6,500 car and took off for Mexico. The house was sold soon after.

Virginia Hill continued to make the news when she appeared before the U.S. Senate Crime Investigating Committee (1951) headed by Sen. Estes Kefauver.  She appeared in a $5,000 mink coat late for testimony; Kefauver excused her saying “ ladies from my part of the country are traditionally late.”  When asked how she supported her lavish lifestyle, Hill said she made a living with lucky horse-racing bets. Those bets, according to some, were all won at the end of the year and in even amounts.

In 1951, Hill, who federal agents chased around the country for back taxes, married Austrian Hans Hauser, a ski instructor with whom she had a son.  She died of an apparent (and much disputed) sleeping pill overdose in Austria in 1966 at age 49. Today the 1930s Miami Beach house Virginia Hill occasionally called home still stands. Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.

For photo of Virginia Hill, see:

Use search box at top right to find more on gambling and mobsters.

Miami News, Mar. 15, 1951
Miami News, Jul. 7, 1951
Palm Beach Post, Mar. 25, 1966
Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 2, 1992

Just out (2014) from Sandra Lansky, daughter of Meyer Lansky (Murder, Inc.)

Tags: Organized crime in Miami, Miami Beach history, Ben "Bugsy" Siegel, Virginia Hill, Sen. Kefauver, film researcher, Florida film research,  historical researcher

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