|Born||Susan Jane Berman
May 18, 1945
|Died||23 December 2000
Beverly Hills, California
|Resting place||Home of Peace Cemetery|
|Alma mater||University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Berkeley
|Subject||Mob, Las Vegas|
|Notable works||Easy Street|
|Spouse||Mister Margulies (divorced)|
|Relatives||Davie Berman, father|
Susan Berman (1945–2000) was an American journalist and author who was the daughter of Davie Berman, a mob figure in Las Vegas. She wrote about her late-in-life realization of her father's place in a criminal empire. She was murdered execution style with a nine-millimeter hand gun on Christmas Eve 2000 in Benedict Canyon, California. In 2010, Lily Rabe played the character Deborah Lehrman, inspired by Susan Berman, in the film All Good Things.
Berman's father Davie was born into a Jewish family in Odessa, Ukraine during the Russian Empire. Her grandfather was a former rabbinical student. Berman's father was a mob figure who had replaced Bugsy Siegel in Las Vegas at the Flamingo Hotel after Siegel's murder by the mob. Berman always maintained that her father died mysteriously on an operating table when she was 12. Berman also believed her mother Gladys' overdose suicide a year later was under mysterious circumstances.
Susan Berman was known affectionately as a "Jewish Mafia Princess." In 1981, Berman published the memoir Easy Street about life as the daughter of a mobster. Susan Berman was represented in the 1970s by the William Morris Agency, who talked with several Hollywood producers interested in adapting Berman's book into a screenplay. The movie rights were purchased from Berman, but the film project never got off the ground.
Various published accounts, including Murder in Beverly Hills by author Cathy Scott, have reported possible connections between Berman's murder and the 1982 disappearance of Kathie Durst—the wife of Berman's college friend and heir to a New York real estate fortune Robert Durst. In a review of Scott's book, True Crime Zine wrote that "detectives came to suspect one of (Susan's) long-time friends but have never been able to charge him with murder." Durst was considered a prime suspect in his wife's disappearance, along with another person of interest, but he was never charged in the case.
Berman remained a friend of Durst after the disappearance of his wife, and Durst gave large cash gifts to Berman in the months before Berman's death. Almost two decades after Kathie Durst's disappearance, New York State Police, at the request of Jeanine Pirro, the district attorney at the time in New York's Westchester County, contacted Susan to interview her about the Durst case. She was killed within a few days of the query.
Berman lived just off the Sunset Strip on Alta Loma Road in West Hollywood for several years prior to moving to her last residence in Benedict Canyon. Nyle Brenner, Berman's manager, said to the Los Angeles Times days after the murder that "many details of Ms. Berman's personal life are unclear" and added "she had been married once in the 1980s, and later helped rear the two children of a boyfriend." Her only husband, Mister Margulies, died of a heroin overdose. She kept close ties to friends on Alta Loma Road, where she once lived, the Las Vegas Strip and in New York City, including Durst.
Berman was a novelist and author of two memoirs. She was a reporter for The San Francisco Examiner and also wrote for Francis Ford Coppola's City Magazine, the Westinghouse Evening Show on KPIX and the "People" show on CBS. She was a contributing writer for New York, Cosmopolitan and Family Circle.
She wrote Driver, Give a Soldier a Lift! and Lady Las Vegas, which accompanied the 1996 release of an A&E documentary for which Berman was a co-writer and for which she was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award.
At the time of her death, she was working on a project for Showtime with attorney Kevin Norte. The title of the project was Sin City and was being planned as Showtime's version of the HBO hit The Sopranos.
- Easy Street: The True Story of a Mob Family (The Dial Press, 1981), ISBN 978-0385271851
- Lady Las Vegas: The Inside Story Behind Americas Neon Oasis (TV Books, 1996), ISBN 978-1575000206
- Driver, Give a Soldier a Lift (Putnam, 1976), ISBN 978-0399117046
- Fly Away Home (Avon Books, 1996), ISBN 978-0380781799
- Spiderweb (Avon Books, 1997), ISBN 978-0380781805
- "Susan Berman". Online Nevada Encyclopedia. 2009-03-20. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- Bismarck Tribune, "Las Vegas mob boss had ties to N.D.," January 2, 2011
- Book Probes New Evidence in Mob Daughter's Murder | Psychology Today
- Susan Berman book: Murder in Beverly Hills by Cathy Scott | True Crime Zine
- DePaulo, Lisa (March 12, 2001). "Who Killed the Gangster's Daughter?". New York Magazine.
- Susan Berman | ONE - Online Nevada Encyclopedia
- "Mobster's Kin Killed: Writer was daughter of Bugsy's partner". 5 January 2001. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- Links to articles on Susan Berman
- This American Life episode 76: "Mob"; linked RealAudio file includes a reading by Berman from Easy Street.
- Homicide Special: A year with LAPD's Elite Detective Unit, Miles Corwin (2003) Chapter 14
- Scott, Cathy (February 2004). "Cold Case: Who Killed Susan Berman?". Las Vegas CityLife.
- A Deadly Secret: The Strange Disappearance of Kathie Durst (2003) by Matt Birkbeck
- Murder of a Mafia Daughter: The Life and Tragic Death of Susan Berman (2002) by Cathy Scott
- Susan Berman at Find a Grave