SENATOR TOBEY: "But why would Joe Epstein give you all that money, Miss Hill?"
WITNESS: "You really want to know?"
SENATOR TOBEY: "Yes, I really want to know."
WITNESS: "Then I’ll tell you why. Because I’m the best cocksucker in town!"
SENATOR KEFAUVER: "Order! I demand order!"
--Excerpt from Virginia Hill’s testimony in front of
the Senate Special Committee to Investigate
Organized Crime in Interstate Gambling
Virginia Hill was born in Bessemer, Alabama on August 26, 1917, one of ten children born to a drunken marble carver and mule salesmen. At the age of 17 she left home and moved to Chicago to find work in the Century of Progress Exhibition in 1933. She worked at a variety of jobs, but eventually ended up as a street hooker, turning tricks for a few dollars. Thanks to her voluptuous body and excellent skills as a lover, word got around and she quickly got a job as a call girl working at the Colony Club, a restaurant run by the Chicago mafia. Virginia eventually fell under the command of Charlie and Joe Fischetti, who were heading up the mob's prostitution rackets at the time. Realizing her business acumen, they offered to put her in charge of several brothels, but Virginia turned them down. She said she had higher aspirations.
It was at the Colony Club where Virginia met Joe Epstein, the chief money launderer for the Chicago Outfit. One of his tried-and-true methods for transporting and disposing of dirty money was to use classy-looking women that wouldn’t arouse suspicions from authorities. After being furnished with the finest clothes and a new hairstyle, Virginia Hill became his mistress and one of his top couriers. She began to travel from city to city, collecting the gang’s money. She then took the money to racetracks, where she was directed to bet on races where the winner had already been determined. She took her “clean” winnings back to Chicago, then off to banks in Switzerland.
In her travels across the country, Virginia had affairs with countless mob bosses, including Moe Dalitz, the boss of Detroit, Joe Adonis in New York, and Tony Accardo, one of the top men in Chicago. Thanks to her intimate connections with so many bosses, the Chicago Outfit used her to spy on the business dealings of their organized crime partners around the country. Virginia was well compensated for her services, owning several large houses across the country. In New York she encouraged the rumor that she was, in fact, a young oil heiress from Georgia.
While in New York, Virginia became grist for the local society pages and gossip columnists, who regularly reported on her legendary parties. In 1941 the New York Journal-American called her a “Manhattan glamour girl” and declared that she had the most fur coats of any woman in the country. It turns out that Virginia was supplementing her income by selling “hot” fur coats and diamonds to her high society girlfriends. Many of these coats had been given to mob bookies by their high society husbands in order to pay off their gambling debts.
It was also during this time period that Bugsy Siegel was making a name for himself as one of the top mob hitmen in New York. Known for his quick temper and borderline pathological outbursts, Siegel also had a voracious sexual appetite. This all inevitably led to him crossing paths with Virginia Hill. Virginia’s fiery temper matched his slug for slug. The pair would be known for their furious fights, after which the regularly bruised Hill would attempt suicide by overdosing on medication. The fights were also ended by rounds of explosive makeup sex.
In April of 1947, Bugsy and Virginia were married in Mexico. They moved to Las Vegas where Bugsy ran the Flamingo hotel and casino, which was built thanks to loans from mob bosses in Chicago and New York. Even though they were married, both still carried on numerous affairs with people around the country and Bugsy’s abuse of Virginia continued to grow. The fact that the Flamingo was hemorrhaging money and that he was beating on their courier/head spy/golden girl Virginia Hill, did not make Bugsy very popular in the eyes of the Chicago Outfit and the other bosses back east. Finally, after a particularly brutal beating where Virginia still had bruises weeks later and tried to kill herself again, her ex-lover and Detroit boss Moe Dalitz put out a hit on Bugsy. While Virginia was in Europe recuperating from her latest bout, Bugsy was shot four times with a .30-.30 carbine rifle, twice in the face.
When she came back to the United States, Virginia moved to Hollywood in order to become an actress. While she certainly had the looks, she never received a movie role. However she did manage to have an affair with the Chicago mob’s Hollywood liaison, Johnny Rosselli. In 1951, Virginia was also called to testify in front of a Senate committee investigating organized crime in gambling headed by Estes Kefauver. Like most of the witnesses, she was vague about her business dealings and wasn’t charged with anything. Soon after her dismissal in front of the committee, she hopped a plane and went into exile in order to escape a tax evasion charge that had been brought against her by the IRS. No matter where she was in the world, she still received a cash pension from Joe Epstein and the Outfit.
By the mid-1960s, after Joe Epstein and her various benefactors began dying or being thrown in prison, the cash payments stopped. It was widely rumored that Virginia, desperate for cash, started to extort money out of Joe Adonis and other mob guys for whom she had carried narcotics and dirty money over the years. On March 24, 1966, near a brook in Koppl, Austria, two hikers found Virginia Hill's dead body. Austrian officials, not knowing who she had been, ruled her death a suicide by poison.