The Female Forces of Cobb:
Virginia Hill, Queen of the Mob
By Katy Ruth Camp
Virginia Hill was known as the “Mistress of the Mob” or “Queen
of the Mob” in the ’30s and ’40s, or some more formally record her
in the history books as a “top courier for the mob.” She was sharp,
no-nonsense, beautiful and charming, so the mob leaders knew the
feds were much less likely to investigate her than the typical mobster.
In the ’30s, she was the top moll in the underworld.
Hill was perhaps most famous for being the girlfriend of mobster
Bugsy Siegel, who was a gang leader in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen.
Siegel was murdered in his LA home while Virginia was in Paris. A
movie was made about Siegel and Hill in the 1990s called “Bugsy,” in
which Annette Benning played the role of Hill.
She moved to Marietta with her family when she was 8 years old.
When she was 14, she dropped out of school and married her first
husband, apparently in an effort to escape her abusive father who
ultimately divorced her mother. She and her new husband moved
to Chicago, which is where she began to make her mob connections.
Late MDJ Editor Bill Kinney befriended her and wrote stories
about her extensively (once he felt it was safe to do so). He was a
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teenager when he first met her, but
began sharing tales about her in the
MDJ in the 1970s after the NBC
Tuesday Night movie, “The Virginia
Hill Story” aired. Her mother and
brothers lived in Marietta, and she doted on them with
love and gifts. She visited them and Marietta frequently in the late
1930s and early 1940s. According to Kinney’s writings, she was
known to residents as “the sloe-eyed beauty who tossed her long auburn
hair around the Marietta Square, clad in halter tops and short
shorts. She clanked two enormous gold bracelets as she walked and
liked to hike Kennesaw Mountain barefoot.”
When Hill would come back for her visits, draped in diamonds and
mink coats, she would never tell anyone how she got her money or
how she won the title of “Hollywood’s most lavish spender,” spending
nearly $70,000 (or a little over a million dollars in today’s money) at
Hollywood nightclubs. She was known to give the Marietta teenagers
a $20 bill to get a case of Coca-Cola for one of her many parties, even
though it only cost 80 cents, and let them keep the change. That’s
about the equivalent of $300 in today’s money. She was also known to
drive Kinney and his friends to Atlanta for parties at hotel bars on the
weekends, something he said in his articles brought about some of his
most favorite and devilish memories.
Kinney wrote that no single person improved Marietta’s scenery and
economy in the late ’30s and early ’40s than Virginia Hill, tossing cash
throughout the town like it was candy.
“This ol’ scribbler will never forget the first time I laid eyes on
Virginia Hill. Harold Benson, a group of other young fellows and I
were girl-watching in front of the now-closed Hodges Drug Store
in Marietta’s North Park Square, where Shop Til You Drop is now.
That was back in 1940. A black Cadillac convertible tooled up across
the street. Out stepped a buxom, barefooted, auburn-haired beauty,
clad only in a halter and shorts. All us young fellows eyed Virginia
intently as she slinked along the rails implanted at the edges of the
park. Tied up to these rails were a number of horse-drawn wagons
from which farmers sold fresh vegetables. She made a purchase at
Florence’s, a leading department store at the time, and headed back
to her convertible. Suddenly, one of the horses reared up, brayed
loudly and pawed at the cobblestone pavement.
‘Good Lord, she is even driving the horses mad,’ said Benson, who
was quite a connoisseur of young ladies in those days.”
He goes on to say she was the most gossiped-about girl in town,
and once rented an apartment in a large house across from the First
Presbyterian Church, the white house where Little & Smith’s Inc.
Insurance Bond’s office is now. Beth Abbott (later Mrs. B.C. Yates)
lived across the hall and shared a phone until Hill could get her
own installed. Abbott recalled that Hill would curse and yell into
the phone at all hours of the night, all long-distance calls, and was