In the world of the Mafia, women are lucky to aspire to being either the good, matronly wife who stay quiet and make a nice home. Or they are a ‘gooma’, the mistress; an attractive glamour girl who looks good on the arm of whichever gangster, but also keeps her mouth shut.
The one woman who managed to attain some semblance of respect in the world of the Cosa Nostra was Virginia Hill.
She is most famous for her relationship with famed gangster Bugsy Siegel. Not only was she a beautiful woman but she had a temper combined with a foul mouth. Born into poverty, in Alabama, she was desperate to leave her small home town and become something more. She moved to Chicago 1933 and it was here that the lure of the Mafia took over. It was Joseph Epstein, a local book maker who spotted her, not only was he enchanted by her beauty, he liked her cool personality. He had the idea to use her a courier, since a woman would be less likely to arouse suspicion. Hill rose to the challenge and not only was she making money but she won the confidences of many of the local gangsters. She was even used by a mafia family to spy on Joe Adonis, a high racking figure in Frank Costello’s family (now known as the Gambino).
This is when Ben ‘Bugsy’ Siegel entered her life. As soon as their eye met, sparks flew and they were joined at the hip afterwards. They were both attractive and both had a temper making them the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton of the Mob. Sadly their relationship was not to last, Siegel was gunned down in 1947. Due to her position in the Mafia, she was called to testify at the Kefauver Hearing. These were a televised hearing that were designed to probe mafia involvement, many high ranking mobsters were called to testify. Hill denied any criminal involvement (peppered with language that made members of the committee blush), she later fled to Austria to avoid tax evasion charges. She dies in suspicious circumstances in 1966, leading to speculation that the was murdered by the mafia.
While we will never know if she was murdered or not, she was certainly a fascinating woman who created waves wherever she went.