The Mob Museum downtown and the Mob Attraction Las Vegas at the Tropicana resort are here to remind us of Southern Nevada's underworld roots. But they're not the only ones to immortalize Mafia members and their associates who brought gangland-style murders, skimming operations and car bombings to the desert.
Hollywood also has done more than its fair share. Here are eight deceased wise guys with Las Vegas ties who were portrayed in films either as themselves or as characters inspired by them.
1. Benjamin Siegelbaum
The Genovese crime family associate, better known as "Bugsy" Siegel, was a bootlegger, gambling racketeer and hired gunman with a playboy reputation. After taking control from entrepreneur William Wilkerson, Siegel opened the Flamingo hotel on the Strip in December 1946 with financial backing from fellow mobster Meyer Lansky. Although Siegel is widely credited with putting Las Vegas gaming on the map, his brief tenure at the helm of the Flamingo was a financial disaster beset by substantial construction cost overruns and gaming losses. Those setbacks angered mob bosses back East and cost the 41-year-old Siegel his life when he was shot to death in girlfriend Virginia Hill's Beverly Hills, Calif., home in June 1947. After his death, Siegel took on mythical proportions, portrayed both as the character Moe Greene by actor Alex Rocco in the 1972 Oscar-winning best picture "The Godfather," and by actor Warren Beatty in the 1991 Oscar-nominated best picture "Bugsy." Beatty also earned an Oscar nomination for best actor.
2. Meyer Suchowljansky (aka Majer Suchowlinski)
Better known as Meyer Lansky, the math and financial whiz became one of the nation's most powerful mobsters and possessed a keen grasp of the role gambling could play in organized crime. Lansky provided financial backing for the Flamingo, Thunderbird, El Cortez and Stardust hotels and was rumored to be an investor in Caesars Palace. Lansky was portrayed in 1974 as character Hyman Roth by actor Lee Strasberg in the Oscar-winning best picture "The Godfather Part II," a role that earned Strasberg an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. Lansky was credited with uttering one of the most famous lines in the history of mob lore, "We're bigger than U.S. Steel," which was used in the film. Ben Kingsley also earned an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor for portraying Lansky in "Bugsy," making Lansky the only mobster on this list to inspire multiple Oscar-nominated performances. He died at age 80 in 1983.
3. Anthony Joseph Spilotro
Nicknamed "Tony the Ant," Spilotro was the Chicago mob's enforcer in Las Vegas for much of the 1970s and early 1980s until he and brother Michael were beaten to death in an Indiana cornfield in 1986. Depicted as character Nicky Santoro by actor Joe Pesci in the 1995 movie "Casino," Spilotro initially ran a Circus Circus gift shop. He later led a burglary ring known as the "Hole in the Wall Gang," noteworthy because it represented the spread of mob activity beyond Las Vegas casinos. Spilotro, who was kept out of prison by attorney and future Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, also was linked to numerous murders, casino skimming and loan sharking and was banned from Nevada casinos from 1978 until his death at age 48.
4. Frank Larry Rosenthal
Sports handicapper "Lefty" Rosenthal was the Chicago mob's front man at the Stardust, Fremont and other hotels. He was both an innovator -- making the Stardust the first Las Vegas casino with a sports book -- and a showman with his own television talk show at the resort. But Rosenthal's dark side, which had him banned from Nevada casinos from 1988 forward, included close associations with underworld figures such as Tony Spilotro and a conviction for fixing a college basketball game. Rosenthal survived a car bomb blast outside a Sahara Avenue restaurant in 1982. He also had a stormy relationship with wife Geri, who had an affair with Spilotro. Those theatrics were depicted in the movie "Casino," with actor Robert De Niro playing Lefty Rosenthal. He died in 2008 at age 79.
5. Sam Giancana (aka Salvatore Giancana)
Nicknamed "Momo," Giancana led the Chicago mob in the late 1950s and early 1960s, exerting behind the scenes influence in the Las Vegas casino industry while rubbing elbows with the likes of entertainers Frank Sinatra and Phyllis McGuire, who was his mistress. Giancana was also thought to have had a connection with President John F. Kennedy, and both men were rumored to have had affairs with Judith Exner. Giancana was also among the mobsters reportedly linked to a Central Intelligence Agency plot to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Giancana, though, was no friend of Nevada gaming regulators, who banned him from the state's casinos in 1960 as an inaugural member of the Black Book. Giancana was portrayed by actor Tony Curtis in the 1986 television film "Mafia Princess," based on a book written by the mobster's daughter. Others who played Giancana included John Turturro in the 1995 TV movie "Sugartime," Rod Steiger in the 1992 TV miniseries "Sinatra," and Robert Miranda in the 1998 TV film "The Rat Pack." Director Oliver Stone also used news footage of Giancana in the 1991 motion picture "JFK." Giancana's death at age 67 came in 1975, when he was shot in the back of his head in the kitchen of his home in Oak Park, Ill.
6. Nicholas Civella (aka Giuseppe Nicoli Civella)
A mob boss in Kansas City, Mo., Civella also was one of the 11 original members of Nevada's Black Book who was banned from the state's casinos. He reportedly attended a 1957 meeting in Apalachin, N.Y., that is widely considered to have been one of the most important Mafia gatherings in U.S. history. Civella had a hand in the Teamsters Union Central States Pension Fund that helped finance resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. But he gained his most notoriety for participating in a skimming operation at the Tropicana that landed him in prison. In the movie "Casino," he was portrayed as the character Vincent Borelli, played by actor Joseph Rigano. Civella died at age 70 in 1983, shortly after his release from prison.
7. Carl Angelo DeLuna
A Kansas City underboss nicknamed "Tuffy," DeLuna helped coordinate Mafia interests in Las Vegas by keeping in touch with mob representatives in other cities. In the movie "Casino," he was portrayed as character Artie Piscano by actor Vinny Vella. But Hollywood did to the DeLuna portrayal as it often does -- it butchered the truth. The movie had his character dropping dead from a heart attack during an FBI raid on his home, whereby agents uncovered documents necessary to break up mob skimming operations in Las Vegas. In reality, DeLuna lived long enough to be sent to prison for his role in the skim. He was still in prison when the movie was released. But DeLuna died in Kansas City in 2008 at age 81, some 10 years after his release from incarceration.
8. John Rosselli (aka Filippo Sacco)
"Handsome Johnny," as Roselli was known, played a role in Hollywood behind the scenes as a producer of gangster films about the same time he was reportedly involved in mob extortion plots against the motion picture industry in the 1940s. He also had a racketeering conviction on his record by the time he came to Las Vegas in the mid-1950s and eventually represented the Chicago mob's interests along the Strip. He played a prominent role in construction of the Tropicana hotel and was also tied to the Royal Nevada, as well as to a talent agency that brought many entertainers to Las Vegas. Roselli was linked to a plot to kill Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and was thought to have knowledge of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Roselli died a mobster's death at age 71 in 1976, when his decomposed body was found inside a steel drum that was floating in a bay near Miami. Actor Sam Grana portrayed Roselli in the 1995 TV movie "Sugartime" and archival footage of the mobster was used in the 1991 motion picture "JFK."