May 16, 1936
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||November 9, 1982 (aged 46)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Accidental drug overdose|
|Resting place||Mount Sinai Memorial Park|
|Education||Van Nuys High School|
(m. 1969; div. 1981)
Geraldine "Geri" McGee (May 16, 1936 – November 9, 1982) was an American model and Las Vegas showgirl. Her involvement with criminal activity in Las Vegas, along with that of her husband Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, was chronicled in Martin Scorsese's film Casino (1995). The screenplay for Casino was written by Nicholas Pileggi and Scorsese, based on Pileggi's biography about McGee and Rosenthal titled Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas. Sharon Stone portrayed McGee in the film, with the character's name changed to "Ginger McKenna", and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.
Personal life and career
McGee grew up near Sherman Oaks, California and graduated from Van Nuys High School in 1954. Her aunt Naomi Ingram inherited a large amount of money upon the death of her husband O.W. Ingram, whose family owned land in Georgia. Ingram offered to send McGee to Woodbury Business School, where she had sent McGee's sister Barbara. McGee told her aunt she did not want to attend Woodbury but would rather attend a different school, and her aunt refused to pay for any other school but Woodbury. McGee instead began working in office jobs during the day, and looked for contests and modeling jobs on the side.
In high school, McGee met a man named Lenny Marmor, and the two became inseparable. Marmor recognized McGee's talent, and he began entering her in swimsuit and dance contests, where she often took home prizes. After they graduated from high school, the couple had a daughter, Robin Marmor, born in 1958.
Soon, Marmor convinced McGee to move to Las Vegas for more opportunities. Marmor stayed in Los Angeles, and McGee and her daughter moved to Vegas. McGee's mother Alice, now separated from Roy McGee, moved to Las Vegas to take care of Robin while McGee was working.
Around 1960, McGee started working as a cocktail waitress and Tropicana chorus showgirl, and continued through the 1960s, making enough money to buy a house for herself and her family. She worked her way up the Las Vegas social ladder, meeting various businessmen. One of the men she met was Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal. Her sister Barbara moved in with her after separating from her husband; Barbara had two small children and needed a place to stay.
In 1969, McGee married Rosenthal and had two children with him: a son Steven, and later a daughter Stephanie. Rosenthal expected McGee to be a stay-at-home mom while he was out at the casino working. She began to resent domestic life, and started going out at night and drinking. Rosenthal threatened to divorce McGee and take custody of the children, leaving her with little money.
The marriage went through a series of break ups and reconciliations through the 1970s. McGee's mother Alice died in 1977. McGee and Rosenthal both began seeing other people, and McGee secretly began seeing Anthony Spilotro, who was a mob enforcer in Las Vegas, and a married friend of Rosenthal. Rosenthal and McGee got in physical altercations, and Rosenthal hired private detectives to track her activities. McGee often left Las Vegas, taking trips with the children to Los Angeles, or shopping with wives of other Las Vegas businessmen. Her divorce from Rosenthal was finalized in 1981 when McGee was living in Los Angeles. After the divorce on October 4, 1982, Rosenthal escaped serious injury when a bomb was placed under his car outside the Tony Roma's Restaurant on Sahara in Las Vegas.
McGee died on November 9, 1982 in Los Angeles, aged 46. She was found heavily drugged in the lobby of the Beverly Sunset Hotel on Sunset Boulevard on November 6, and died three days later. Her sister stated she believed McGee had been murdered by the people who had tried to kill Frank Rosenthal just weeks earlier because perhaps she "knew too much" about the Las Vegas underworld.
The Los Angeles coroner ruled McGee's cause of death was an accidental overdose. The coroner found a lethal combination of cocaine, valium, and whiskey in her system. She was interred at Mount Sinai Memorial Park, a Jewish cemetery.
Nicholas Pileggi began working on the script for Casino, based on the Rosenthal family, with Martin Scorsese around 1990. Filming began in the fall of 1994, and the film was released a year later, in November 1995. Sharon Stone was cast to portray Geri McGee and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Lead Actress for her performance.
The script made changes to McGee's story. In the film, the Rosenthals only have one daughter, Amy, and in real life, McGee had three children. The script also changed the couple's names from Geri McGee and Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal to Ginger McKenna and Sam "Ace" Rothstein (played by Robert De Niro), and Lenny Marmor to Lester Diamond.
- "Real Life Mafia Moll Gave Star Her Oscar Role". Thefreelibrary. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
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- "McGee Marriage Record". Familysearch. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
- "Las Vegas couple inspired movie". Los Angeles Times. October 16, 2008. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
- "Frank's Life Story". FrankLeftyRosenthal.com. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
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- "Frank Rosenthal obituary". The New York Times. October 19, 2008. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
- The Films of Martin Scorsese and Robert Deniro. ISBN 978-0810874138.