Virginia Hill (born August 26, 1916 in Lipscomb - died March 24, 1966 in Koppel, Austria) was a Chicago Outfit courier who was famous for being the steady girlfriend of Los Angeles mob boss and Genovese crime family associate Bugsy Siegel, following the breakdown of his marriage.
Hill was one of ten siblings born to Mack Hill, a horse trader, and his wife Margaret, who operated a boarding house. She grew up in Lipscomb until her mother walked out on her husband and brought the children with her to Marietta, Georgia in the mid 1920s. Young Virginia developed a reputation and may have married at age 14 or 15. She and her boyfriend or husband moved together to Chicago, Illinois around the time of her 17th birthday and she left him after taking a job at the San Carlo Italian Village restaurant, a favored meeting place for Al Capone's mob.
While working in Chicago, Hill met a mobster named Joseph Epstein, a ranking associate of political corrupter Jake Guzik. Hill hosted parties for Epstein, now thought to have been homosexual, and assisted in his bookmaking ring. In the process she became a close associate of several high-ranking Chicago Outfit mobsters. She was eventually the mistress of Frank Costello, Frank Nitti, Charles Fischetti and Joe Adonis. She also became a "bag woman," and funneled Outfit funds into Swiss bank accounts. She later denied it, but it is known that she bought a new home for her family in Marietta for $10,000 - in cash.
In May of 1938 Hill moved back to Marietta after breaking up with Adonis. Shortly afterwards she traveled to Mexico with her brother Chick, possibly to establish drug trafficking routes. By August of that year she had made her way to Hollywood, California where Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was supervising rackets. She combined additional trips to Mexico with nights on the town with Hollywood figures such as Errol Flynn.
During the 1940s Hill became Siegel's most steady mistress. They reputedly fought as much as they made love, but Siegel did not stop his womanizing. There are rumors that they were secretly married in Mexico but Siegel never divorced his wife, Esta. Siegel's nickname for Hill was "The Flamingo," reputedly for her long legs. It is speculated that Siegel's Las Vegas "Flamingo Hotel" was named in her honor.
Hill bought her own mansion in Beverly Hills and entertained Hollywood celebrities there. Hill reportedly blackmailed several Hollywood celebrities with information about their private vices. Siegel got into trouble with his superiors in New York City's Genovese crime family when his Las Vegas project, The Flamingo, did not turn a profit fast enough. Meyer Lansky allegedly suspected that Siegel was engineering construction woes in order to rip off his Mafia investors for millions of dollars. It was further believed that he was using Hill to transfer the money to Swiss bank accounts, serving as only his courier this time. After one of their many fights, Hill left for Paris on June 10, 1947. Ten days later, Siegel was shot to death inside her mansion. When she heard of Siegel's murder, Hill reportedly fainted. When police later questioned her, she denied that she was his mistress or that she was aware of his ties to the Genovese crime family.
In 1951, Hill was subpoenaed to testify before the Kefauver hearings and denied having any knowledge of organized crime. She told investigators that her income came from gifts her boyfriends gave her because of her sexual prowess.
The Internal Revenue Service determined that Hill had spent $500,000 without paying taxes and sued her. Hill proceeded to marry well-known Sun Valley ski instructor Hans Hauser and moved with him to Europe. The IRS seized her house and property and auctioned them off for back taxes. The FBI placed her at #3 on their Ten Most Wanted list.
Hill spent her remaining years in Europe. In her last years, when she was separated from her husband, she was supported by their only child, Peter Hauser, who worked as a waiter. She died of an overdose of sleeping pills, an apparent suicide, in the forested slopes of Koppl, near Salzburg, Austria on March 24, 1966 at the age of 49. Her body was found in a secluded area by a bridge crossing the "Alterbach," a small stream. Hill is buried in Aigen Cemetery in Salzburg, Austria.
According to Andy Edmonds' biography Bugsy's Baby: The Secret Life of Mob Queen Virginia Hill, Hill's death was suspicious, since her body was found outdoors, near a brook, two days after she met with a former lover, former Genovese family boss Joe Adonis, who reportedly had her escorted home with two of his bodyguards. It was highly speculated by the Austrian media, which were rather exactly informed about her former relationship with Siegel, that she tried to get money by using her knowledge of the Italian-American Mafia and the Mexican drug cartels.
Hill was portrayed by Dyan Cannon in the 1974 television movie "The Virginia Hill Story" (released on DVD in 2012 as "Virginia Hill: Mistress to the Mob", and by Annette Bening in the 1991 film Bugsy.
- Edmonds, Andy (1993) Bugsy's Baby: The Secret Life of Mob Queen Virginia Hill. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Publishing Group ISBN 1559721642
- "Virginia Hill" (February 17, 2009) Wikipedia - accessed March 1, 2009