Siegel had been talking to his associate Allen Smiley when three bullets were fired through the window and into his head, killing him instantly. Siegel's childhood had been pretty similar to that of other organized crime leaders: Growing up with little money in Brooklyn, he managed to establish himself as a teenage thug. With his pal Meyer Lansky, Siegel terrorized local peddlers and collected protection money. Before long, they had a business that included bootlegging and gambling all over New York City. By the 1930s, Siegel had become one of the major players of a highly powerful crime syndicate, which gave him $500,000 to set up a Los Angeles franchise. Bugsy threw himself into the Hollywood scene, making friends with some of the biggest names of the time--Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and Jean Harlow. His all-night parties at his Beverly Hills mansion became the hot spot in town. He also started up a solid gambling and narcotics operation to keep his old friends back east happy. Just before World War II began, Siegel traveled to Italy to sell explosives to Mussolini, but the deal fizzled when tests of the explosives did too.