The Fabulous Flamingo: Bugsy, Billy, Virginia and the Making of Modern Las Vegas
Marking the 75th anniversary of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, authors Larry Gragg and Willie Wilkerson and journalist Lissa Townsend Rodgers will recount the resort’s dramatic origins and its enduring impact on Las Vegas. The roles of Billy Wilkerson, Moe Sedway, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and Virginia Hill in the Flamingo’s creation will be highlighted, as will details of the FBI surveillance that nearly derailed the project.
This program will take place in the Museum’s Historic Courtroom.
Larry Gragg, author of Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel: The Gangster, the Flamingo, and the Making of Modern Las Vegas
Larry Gragg is Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus at Missouri University of Science and Technology where he served as chair of the history and political science department for 17 years. He has won more than 20 teaching awards including the University of Missouri President’s Award for Outstanding Teaching. He is the author of ten books including “Bright Light City”: Las Vegas in Popular Culture (2013); Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel: The Gangster, the Flamingo, and The Making of Modern Las Vegas (2015); and Becoming America’s Playground: Las Vegas in the 1950s (2019).
Willie Wilkerson, author of Hollywood Godfather: The Life and Crimes of Billy Wilkerson
Raised and educated in England, W.R. Wilkerson III graduated from the University of Southern California in 1977. He has authored several books including HOLLYWOOD GODFATHER: The Life & Crimes of Billy Wilkerson, ONE VOTE, ONE PERSON: How Changing Our Voting System Will Get Us Out of the Mess We’re In (2008), The Monk’s Son (2007), Las Vegas: Vintage Graphics from Sin City (2003), and The Man Who Invented Las Vegas (1999). He has contributed to several publications including The Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, The Herald Examiner, and The LA Weekly.
Lissa Townsend Rodgers, journalist
Lissa Townsend Rodgers moved from New York City to Las Vegas sometime in the early 21st century. She has been a columnist for the Las Vegas Weekly and editor-at-large at Vegas Seven magazine, as well as writing freelance for publications including New York, Food & Wine and Esquire. She has also given lectures on Las Vegas history and hosted author talks at the Clark County Library. Lissa’s book on gangster women, Shameless, will be released by Huntington Press in 2022.