Gloria Dea, the 1st magician to perform on the Las Vegas Strip, dies at 100 : NPR

LAS VEGAS — Gloria Dea, billed as the first magician to perform on what would become the Las Vegas Strip in the early 1940s, has died. She was 100 years old.

Dea died Saturday at her Las Vegas residence, said LaNae Jenkins, director of clinical services at Valley Hospice, who was one of Dea’s caretakers. A memorial is in the works.

Dea also appeared in several films in the 1940s and 1950s, including King of the Congowith Buster Crabbe, in 1952.

Dea moved from California to Las Vegas in 1980. Famed magician David Copperfield befriended her in her later years, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“Gloria was amazing. She was charming, funny and engaging,” Copperfield told the newspaper. “And in Vegas, as a young magician, she started it all. It was an honor to know her.”

Dea was 19 when she performed in El Rancho Vegas on May 14, 1941.

His Roundup Room show is the first recorded appearance by a magician in Las Vegas, the Review-Journal reported Sunday.

“There wasn’t really a Strip back then,” Dea told the newspaper last August when she turned 100. “We had the Last Frontier and the El Rancho Vegas. They had just started building the Flamingo.”

Dea did magic that night and more.

“I also danced. I did rumba because it was hard to keep putting on all my magic stuff,” Dea said.

After moving to California, Dea appeared in several films including Mexican in 1945 and Plan 9 from outer space in 1957.

“I was on Saturday matinees, for the kids,” she said. “Plan 9 from outer space was the worst movie of all time. …I had fun doing it.”

But that marked the end of Dea’s entertainment career. She sold insurance, then new and used cars for a dealership in the San Fernando Valley, becoming one of the top sales reps.

According to Review-Journal, Dea was an only child and had no immediate family. Her husband Sam Anzalone, a former California car sales manager, died in January 2022.

Dea was scheduled to be inducted into the UNLV College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame on Tuesday night.

These plans will go ahead as planned; Dea will be inducted by Copperfield during a presentation before the full program.


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