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Audio clip from interview with Louis Wiener, Jr., February 1, 1990

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Download jhp000144.mp3 (audio/mpeg; 3.97 MB)





Part of an interview with Louis Wiener, Jr. on February 1, 1990. In this clip, Wiener talks about how he became the attorney for Bugsy Siegel in the 1940s, and Siegel's desire to protect Wiener from criticism.

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Louis Wiener, Jr. oral history interview, 1990 January 24, 1990 February 04, 1990 February 23. OH-01974. [Audio recording]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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Well, Siegel hired me because I beat him in a lawsuit. He came to me and he hired me and told me that the suit in which I defeated him he thought he had, quote, the juice. It wasn't the juice probably; this is with the judge. But the attorney he hired was a good friend of the judge. But as far as I'm concerned, this judge there was no juice with him; he just was a great guy. And I beat Siegel in the lawsuit. So one day he came to the office and the girl told me Mr. Siegel there. Well, Mr. Siegel didn't mean any more to me than a Jewish name being Levitt would mean to Mormon people. There's six jillion Levitts and six jillion Siegels, so it didn't mean anything. He came and introduced himself to me. Handsome, oh. And his stomach was as straight as never saw he anything?he was in great physical condition and really a handsome guy, nice. He said, ?I just bought the Flamingo Hotel and I want to hire you to represent me.? So I said, well, I'll have to talk to my partners. At that time Bob Jones and Cliff Jones were my partners. He said, ?I'll give you twenty five thousand dollars a year retainer.? Well, that was 1944 or '45. Twenty five thousand was like five hundred thousand. I thought to myself, my partners better agree to this. Anyway, I was representing the hotel, so I did become his attorney. He was always very protective of me. I mean this; if he was doing anything wrong?while I represented him that I knew of?he didn't let me know about it. I guess if he was going to talk to anybody, he'd tell me to get out of the room, so I can get away from it, if he did do anything wrong like I said. I think he was the man responsible for Las Vegas being what it is today because he is the man that had the dream of building a resort hotel. Up to that time the El Rancho and the Frontier were really oversized motels, little casinos, little showroom. He built a real beautiful place, the Flamingo. He was meticulous about the way he did things. He carried a pocket diary or notebook and he would ask me eight, ten, five, six questions every day, and I had to write him a separate answer for every question on my letterhead. And the next day I'd give them to him, or maybe the following day. And the reason he did that...he said, ?I don't ever want any question being raised about you being right or wrong. If you're wrong it's going to be in writing, and if you're right it's going to be in writing. Nobody's going to be able to say you gave me the right advice or the wrong advice when you gave me the right advice, vice versa.? And I think?I mean he never said this, but I think he was trying to protect me against criticism from, quote, his associates back east. He didn't want me to ever be put in the spot for ever being blamed for something if I was right. And every day I'd give him four, five, six, eight, ten letters. And he had great details. Had Siegel lived he would have had the first three or four room [star] hotel in the country. He had dreams. He had visions. Unfortunately, they didn't permit him to live. Had they permitted him to go another sixty or ninety days, the Flamingo would have been a financial success; it was on its way when he got killed. He was very generous. When I took a trip with him, I always had the best accommodations. He had one eccentricity; your expense bill had to be exact. He didn't care what you charged him to go someplace or do something, but your expenses had to be exact.