Hank Greenspun was born in Brooklyn on the 27th August, 1909. He studied law before joining the United States Army and during the Second World War was sent to Europe. While in Northern Ireland he met his future wife, Barbara Ritchie. A member of the ordnance corps he served under General George Patton during the advance through France and Germany. Greenspun was decorated with the Croix de Guerre for his courage in the Battle of Falaise Gap.
By 1945 Greenspun reached the rank of major. After leaving the army Greenspun moved to Las Vegas where he joined forces with Ralph Pearl to establish Las Vegas Life, a weekly entertainment magazine. This was not a success and so he went to work for Bugsy Siegel as the publicity agent for his new Flamingo Hotel. Later Greenspun invested in a rival casino, The Desert Inn. These shares were eventually sold to Cleveland mobsters, Morris "Moe" Dalitz, Sam Tucker and Morris Kleinman.
Greenspun now began to invest in media enterprises. He became a partner in the radio station, KRAM, the television company, KLAS-TV and Channel 8, which he later sold to Howard Hughes.
In 1947 Greenspun was recruited by Haganah, the Jewish terrorist organization. Over the next couple of years Greenspun purchased artillery, machine-guns, rifles and airplane engines for Haganah. Greenspun was arrested in 1950 and charged with violating the Neutrality Act. He pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000.
Greenspun also became involved in domestic politics. In 1949 the International Typographical Union in Las Vegas became involved in a long-drawn out labour dispute. Frustrated by the way the dispute was being reported, the union established its own newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In 1950 Greenspun purchased this newspaper for $104,000. He renamed it the Las Vegas Sun, and turned it into a daily newspaper.
Greenspun's son later claimed that: "If he hadn't done that, Las Vegas would have remained a community completely in the grip of people who .... were focused on their own interests, instead of those of the community". Greenspun used the newspaper to attack politicians he considered to be anti-Semitic. This included Pat McCarran and the political machine he used to control Nevada.
Greenspun also used the Las Vegas Sun to attack Joe McCarthy during the height of McCarthyism. On 25th October, 1952, he wrote that: "It is common talk among homosexuals in Milwaukee who rendezvous in the White Horse Inn that Senator Joe McCarthy has often engaged in homosexual activities." McCarthy considered a libel suit against Greenspun but decided against it when he was told by his lawyers that if the case went ahead he would have to take the witness stand and answer questions about his sexuality. In an attempt to stop the rumours circulating, McCarthy married his secretary, Jeannie Kerr. Later the couple adopted a five-week old girl from the New York Foundling Home.
In 1961 President John F. Kennedy pardoned Greenspun's felony conviction, and therefore restored his right to stand for political office. The following year, Greenspun, a member of the Republican Party, attempted to obtain the Nevada gubernatorial nomination. However, he was defeated by the Mayor of Las Vegas, Oran Gragson.
Greenspun attempted to make the Las Vegas Sun the dominant daily in Las Vegas. He suffered a terrible setback when a fire destroyed the Sun's offices and production plant in November 1963. Greenspun suspected arson and later accused Tom Hanley, in prison for murdering a union boss, of starting the fire.
On 3rd July, 1972, Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker and James W. McCord were arrested while placing electronic devices in the Democratic Party campaign offices in an apartment block called Watergate. It later emerged that people working for Richard Nixon wanted to wiretap the conversations of Larry O'Brien, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
On 23rd May, 1973, James W. McCord later admitted that this group (known as the "Plumbers") had been involved in several covert activities. This included a plot to steal documents from Hank Greenspun's safe. McCord testified that Attorney General John N. Mitchell had told him that Greenspun had in his possession blackmail type information involving a Democratic candidate for President.
The break-in did not take place and therefore Sam Ervin demanded to see these documents. So also did the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). However, Greenspun took the case to the courts and got a ruling that these documents could remain private.
Carl Oglesby (The Yankee and Cowboy War) believes that this material had something to do with Richard Nixon, Robert Maheu and Howard Hughes: "Greenspun was an ally of Robert Maheu, the top Hughes aide who connected the CIA and the Mafia in 1960, who came to prominence in the Hughes empire during the Las Vegas period, and who then lost out in the Las Vegas power struggle that violently reconfigured the Hughes empire late in 1970."
Hank Greenspun died of cancer on 22nd July 1989. Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres called Greenspun "a hero of our country and a fighter for freedom - a man of great spirit who fought with his mind and his soul; a man of great conviction and commitment."