Larry Gragg investigates the evidence behind ‘Bugsy’ Siegel’s claim that he planned to kill the high-ranking Nazi in 1939.
In the 1991 film Bugsy, Warren Beatty portrayed Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel as a man with an obsession, not only to build a fabulous resort casino in Las Vegas, but also to murder the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. In one scene a swaggering Siegel tells his paramour, Virginia Hill, that he must do so because 'the whole world is being destroyed by Hitler and Mussolini'. In a later exchange with his life-long friend, Meyer Lansky, Siegel explains, with stunning hubris: 'Mussolini and Hitler have to be stopped. They're trying to knock off every Jew on earth. If I don't do something about it, who will?' Siegel is frustrated when, later in the film, the Italian people have eliminated their dictator and deprived him of the opportunity.