Underworld figures at Vegas mob museum
Mon Dec 10, 2007
Some underworld figures whose stories will be told when Las Vegas opens its mob museum:
Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel.
Pioneered Las Vegas as America's glamorous gambling capital, opening the lavish Flamingo hotel-casino in 1946. Rubbed out in 1947 in Beverly Hills, Calif. Hollywood handsome, he was played by Warren Beatty in the 1991 movie "Bugsy."
The mob's money man and one of the underworld's most powerful and influential figure. Helped bankroll Siegel's Flamingo. Legend has it he had Siegel killed over the vast cost overruns on the project. Kept a financial interest in the Flamingo until the 1960s. Lee Strasberg played a character based on Lansky in "The Godfather, Part II." Died in 1983 in Miami Beach at age 80.
Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro
A Chicago mob enforcer who moved to Las Vegas in 1971, Spilotro worked with Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, who ran several casinos, including the Stardust. Spilotro and Rosenthal were the inspiration for characters played by Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro in the 1995 movie "Casino." Spilotro was killed in 1986 and buried in an Indiana cornfield. He was 48.
Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal
Now 78 and living in Florida, Rosenthal was a behind-the-scenes hand running the Stardust, Fremont and Hacienda casinos when they were controlled by the mob. Banned from casinos in 1988 because of his mob ties. Served as the model for Sam "Ace" Rothstein, played by Robert De Niro in "Casino."
Morris Barney "Moe" Dalitz
A former bootlegger from Cleveland, Dalitz financed completion of the Desert Inn hotel-casino in the late 1940s and owned it until 1967, when he sold it to the billionaire Howard Hughes. Also ran the Stardust for a time. Died in 1989.
Sources: Professor Michael Green, College of Southern Nevada; "Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas," by Nicholas Pileggi; "The First 100:" http://www.1st100.com/