Virginia Hill

 

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Virginia Hill was born in 1916 in Marrietta, GA.  She was the seventh of ten children.  Virginia was the victim of her father’s abuse, especially when he was drunk.  At the age of seven, she threw a pan of hot grease on him.  He never abused her again.

Virginia developed into a tall attractive redhead.  She used her body to get what she needed from men.

At 17, she arrived in Chicago in 1933.  She worked as a waitress at a mob owned restaurant.  She caught the attention of gangster Joey “Ep” Epstein.

Ep operated the Chicago area gambling for the Al Capone gang.  Hill impressed him with her determination and wisecracking antics, he also admired her independence.  She had useful qualities for his organization.

She was a woman who was smart but not hungry, she could be trusted with discretion, money and inside information.

Ep was in need of a courier and Hill fit the bill because she was unknown to the police.  She was also young and willing.

Ep started Hill off at the racetrack where she was instructed to place bets on various horses.  The first horse won $16,000.  Ep gave her ten percent of the take.

Hill became a regular at the track and once pocketed $200,000.  After the success of this operation, Ep promoted her to work the higher-stake rackets.

Hill began transporting cash, diamonds and furs across state lines while Ep groomed her on diction and appearance.

Ep introduced her to the upper-echelon gangsters as he smiled his approval in the background.  Hill would become a high earner for the mob.  She moved into a luxury apartment and Ep gave her a monthly allowance of $3,000.

Ep never tried to consummate his relationship with Hill because he was a closeted homosexual.  He had to be discreet because such a lifestyle in the underworld could result in death in the 1930’s.

Mob history was made in 1935 when Virginia Hill became the first and only woman ever to be invited into the “back room” to discuss takeovers, hits and business ventures.  Hill learned how the mob infiltrated the unions and corrupted the politicians.   She knew how the books were juggled, how much money had been cleaned and what business ventures were fronts.

Hill gained the respect of fellow mobsters and earned a reputation as a top-notch money launderer.  She had finally gained the acceptance she craved.  Her ties were solidified which allowed her to become the most dangerous woman that the underworld had ever seen.

She proved her loyalty by fencing stolen property, laundering money without stealing any for herself.

Ep moved Virginia into bigger and more dangerous territory.  She became a liaison with the New York’s Luciano family, which was in the midst of a war against Capone’s Chicago crew.

Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was a gangster who met regularly with Joey Adonis.  They shared an intense hatred for one another because they were both rising stars in the mob.  Adonis was dating Virginia Hill at the time, Siegel planned to humiliate him by making a pass at Hill.

Siegel approached Adonis and Hill at the bar, he ignored Adonis and openly flirted with Hill.  Adonis became outraged, Hill was intrigued, she hooked up with Siegel later that evening and spent the whole night having sex with him.  The following week, Siegel left his wife and two daughters and moved to Hollywood.

Hill returned to Georgia and purchased her mother a magnificent home.  Her mother never questioned where and how Virginia obtained the money.

In the summer of 1938, Hill’s younger brother Chick moved into her Hollywood home.  Virginia dined at all the top spots where she left $100 dollar tips.  She made the gossip columns when she threw a drink in actor’s Errol Flynn’s face.

Meanwhile, Bugsy Siegel moved into a 35-room mansion.  He courted actresses, Jean Harlow, Sophie Tucker and Mae West.  Within six months of his arrival, Siegel had become a one-man Mafia terrorist and crowned himself “King Of Corruption.”  Siegel took over city hall and local politicians consulted him before they made a move.

Hill and Siegel had a mutual friend, actor George Raft.  They spent two weekends per month at Raft’s house where they would show up and disappear for several days.  They also joined forces at the racetrack as they played the horses with actors Cary Grant, Gary Cooper and Clark Gable.

Hill invited Siegel to Mexico where she introduced him to her Mexican contacts in the drug trade.  They also vacationed in Tijuana and financed several Mexican casinos with mob money.

In exchange for Hill bringing Siegel into the center of the Chicago drug racket, Siegel cut Chicago in on a piece of the action in Tijuana.

Hill had cemented her position in organized crime with this maneuver.  She was the most trusted and highly placed woman in the underworld.  Her elevation in the mob also put her on equal footing with many of the men, something no other woman has been able to do before or has done since.

Hill and Siegel fell in love and moved into a magnificent mansion.  The home was decorated with Tiffany vases and lamps and they drove Cadillac convertibles.

Virginia arrived in Miami Beach and bought a mansion that was previously owned by newspaper tycoon Randolph Hearst.

In March 1942, an article appeared in the L.A. Times portraying Hill as a calculating woman with a backbone of steel who tossed around $100 bills as if she had a money machine stashed in her bedroom.

Siegel went to Las Vegas, when he returned, he told Virginia, he was going to build a hotel/casino on some land that he had just purchased.  He sold shares in the hotel to associates and he named the hotel “The Flamingo Hotel & Casino.”

Siegel was spending outrageous amounts for construction and design, he was way over budget and in debt, the mob called a meeting.

The Flamingo opened in December 1946.  It was a big rainstorm, few people attended.  The mob was furious.  Siegel’s fate was sealed at a meeting held on the last week of May 1947.

Siegel was killed on June 20th, 1947. He was shot numerous times.  Hill was in Paris shopping when she got the word of Bugsy’s murder.  She didn’t return for the funeral.  Only three people attended, his wife and two daughters.  The mob turned its back on “The Man Who Created Las Vegas.”

The mob distanced themselves from Virginia Hill because of her close association with Siegel.  Ep didn’t return her calls and she received brush-offs from several mobsters.

Hill stayed in Paris and became involved with a French heir.  After they broke-up, Hill returned to the States and moved to Sun Valley, Idaho.  Ep sent her $15,000 to get settled.

In February 1950, she met a tall and handsome ski instructor named Hans Hauser.  They married the following month.  News of Hill’s marriage made headlines around the world.

Hill was served with papers informing her that a formal tax lien for the amount of $161,000 was being filed against her for back taxes; her home was also seized.

No one in the mafia had sympathy for Hill especially when she began telling reporters about her secret diary that had been safely tucked away in a safe deposit box in Chicago.  She hinted that the diary named gangsters as well as some highly placed government officials.  She called the diary her “insurance.”

Hill would leave the country with her husband and give birth to a son they named Peter.  Virginia and family traveled in two Mercedes Benz’s, paid cash for everything and Virginia wore designer clothes and furs.

The IRS issued a wanted poster on Virginia Hill for tax evasion.  The stress took its toll and Hill began drinking heavily as her cash dwindled.

Hill returned to the United States to try and work out her tax problem and she wanted to hook-up with her mob associates.  It took her awhile to realize, she had no one left to come home to.

The government agreed to drop the tax related charges if Hill testified against her mob buddies.  A tragedy derailed the deal, the judge was killed in a freak accident.  Hill returned to Switzerland.

Hill became a loose cannon.   She flew to Naples to see mobster and ex-boyfriend Joey Adonis on March 22, 1966.  They ate dinner and reminisced over drinks.  Adonis gave her $10,000 in cash, she also agreed to never contact Adonis again.

She left his home the next morning, Adonis ordered two of his bodyguards to accompany Hill to make sure ‘she arrives safely.”  She climbed into the Mercedes with the two men and drove off.

Virginia Hill was found dead on March 24, 1966, near a brook in Koppl, Austria.  Her death was ruled as a suicide but it was largely assumed that she was murdered.  Hill was 49.

On the day of Virginia’s death, Ep and a friend went to the bank to retrieve Virginia’s diary.

Joe ‘Ep’ Epstein died of a heart attack in 1976.  He was 75.

Joe Adonis disappeared from sight after 1975.  There is no record of his death in America, nor has any inquiry of his death turned up in Italy.  If he were alive, he would be over 100 years old.

Virginia Hill’s husband Hans Hauser died in Austria in the 1970’s.

Virginia’s son Peter Hauser is living in Europe.  His current whereabouts are unknown.

Source: “Bugsy’s Baby, The Secret Life of Mob Queen Virginia Hill” by Andy Edmonds.

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