Benjamin Siegelbaum was born on February 28, 1906 in Brooklyn, New York, to a poor Austrian Jewish family. During adolescence, Siegel befriended Meyer Lansky, forming a small gang whose criminal activities included gambling and car theft, and later the two joined forces with Charles "Lucky" Luciano.
Bugsy eventually came to Las Vegas in 1941, backed by Al Capone to establish the Trans America race wire service. He would soon have bigger plans however.
Bugsy envisioned building a large casino and hotel to which gamblers would flock. His vision was fueled by the fact that gambling had been legal in Nevada since 1911, and construction of Hoover Dam had created a population boom in the area. Bugsy went back East and captivated his fellow mobsters with the idea of building a gambling mecca in the Nevada desert, and was given $1.5 million to begin working on his dream to construct a hotel-casino named "The Flamingo", his pet name for girlfriend Virginia Hill.
Siegel opened his still-unfinished casino on the star-studded night of December 26, 1946, although he did not have as many Hollywood celebrities with him as he had hoped. Soon the Flamingo ran dry of entertainers and customers, and the casino closed after only two weeks in order to complete construction. The fully operational Flamingo re-opened in March of 1947, and the Las Vegas Strip was born.
Happy Birthday Bugsy, and thanks for Vegas.