Ben Siegel Earns Name Bugsy | The Gangster Chronicles

#gangserchroniclesmichaellasker #johnfriedrich #1981gangsterchronicles

In this scene from “The Gangster Chronicles: An American Story,” the dice are rolling in their crap game as the young Michael Lasker (John Friedrich). Ben Siegel (Cyril O’Reilly) has an encounter and incident with police sergeant Reardon (Robert Burke) that will give Ben Siegel the infamous “Bugsy” Siegel nickname.
Directed by Richard C. Sarafian

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“Bugsy Siegel was a big kid with a bad temper. One second, he could be very charming, the next he’d go crazy. He was like a human time-bomb, and that’s how I play him.” -Joe Penny

The series The Gangster Chronicles: An American Story (1981) starred Michael Nouri as Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, Joe Penny as Benny ‘Bugsy’ Siegel, and Brian Benben as Michael Lasker (the name given to the Meyer Lansky-based-character due to legal reasons).
Luciano (the organizer), Siegel (the muscle), and Lasker (the brains) were childhood
friends who joined forces during the prohibition era and became major bootleggers. As the series dramatizes their rise to power, it contrasts their personal lives: Luciano cultivated a mistress; Siegel becomes a womanizer; Laskerand, a devoted family man. As with the Godfather movies, their personal lives were also explored. The Gangster Chronicles combined action and drama with a portrait of the crime figures as real people, not just two-dimensional caricatures, or miscreants-but products of their environment. The show/series, presents a revealing, dramatic look at the roots of certain aspects of American history, with accuracy, and is based on 10 years of research by Emmy-winning writer Richard Alan Simmons; The first 6 episodes (8-hours) were directed by Richard C. Sarafian delivering something quite smart, stylish and enjoyable. Sarafian infuses the material with tremendous energy, casting a group of charismatic up-and-comers (Joe Penny, Michael Nouri, Madeleine Stowe, Jonathan Banks), fine period detail, and swift pacing…it’s a testament to Sarafian’s excellent, attentive professionalism.

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The Gangster Chronicles is an NBC American television crime drama miniseries starring Michael Nouri, Joe Penny, Jon Polito, Louis Giambalvo, Kathleen Lloyd, Madeleine Stowe, Chad Redding, Markie Post, Allan Arbus, James Andronica, Robert Davi, Joseph Mascolo, and narrated by E.G. Marshall.

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Ben Siegel’s life and career were extraordinarily different from (his) nutty myth. Few facts are available about his youth because he never spoke to even his closest associates about his background, personal life, criminal activities, or legitimate businesses. He was silent about himself, despite being a gregarious and fun-loving guy, who would readily discuss any other subject of common interest. (He was allegedly) born on February 28, 1906 and lived with his parents in Brooklyn. -Author, Bill Friedman


Meyer Lansky was born Meyer Suchowljansky in Grodno, Poland in 1902. Because of that country’s anti-Semitic Pogroms, which were violent mob massacres that killed many Jews, his father immigrated to the U.S. ahead of his family. His father saved money for two years to pay for the trip so his wife and sons Jake and Meyer, who was 9, could join him in Brooklyn in 1911. Immigration officials assigned Meyer the birth date of July 4, 1902. Three years after arriving in Brooklyn the family moved to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1914. -Author, Bill Friedman

John Friedrich (teenage Michael Lasker) is a very talented American film actor/character actor of the 1970s & early 1980s. He is probably best known for his great portrayal of Joey Capra in Philip Kaufman’s film The Wanderers (1979).

“Lies have been told about Meyer (Lansky) and Ben (Siegel) and Charlie (Luciano) for so long and so many times, you can’t change anything. The lies are now the world’s reality. No one’s gonna believe you.” -Vincent “Jimmy Blue Eyes” (1995), Prohibition partner of Lansky, Siegel & Luciano

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