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Gloria Dea, first magician on Las Vegas Strip, dies aged 100

Gloria Dea, touted as the first magician to perform on what would become the Las Vegas Strip in the early 1940s, has died. Here posing at her Las Vegas home on in August 2022.
Gloria Dea, touted as the first magician to perform on what would become the Las Vegas Strip in the early 1940s, has died. Here posing at her Las Vegas home on in August 2022. Copyright K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Copyright K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
By David MouriquandAP
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Gloria Dea's 1941 show at the Roundup Room was the first recorded appearance by a magician in Las Vegas.

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Gloria Dea, touted as the first magician to perform on what would become the Las Vegas Strip in the early 1940s, has died at the age of 100.

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 honour to know her.”

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

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

“There was no Strip, really, in those days,” 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 performed magic that night and more.

“I also danced. I did the rumba because it was difficult to keep setting up all my magic stuff,” Dea said.

K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Magician Gloria Dea honoured by fellow magicians, including David Copperfield and Teller, during her 100th birthday celebration in Las Vegas - Aug. 2022K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal

After relocating to California, Dea appeared in several movies including Mexicana in 1945, King of the Congo, starring Buster Crabbe, in 1952, and Ed Wood’s infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space in 1957. 

“I was in the Saturday matinees, for the kids,” she said. “‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ was the worst movie of all time. … I had fun making it though.”

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

According to the Review-Journal, Dea was an only child and did not have any immediate family. Her husband Sam Anzalone, a former California car sales executive, died in January 2022.

Dea was scheduled to be inducted into the UNLV College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame. Those plans will go forward as planned; Dea will be inducted by Copperfield in a presentation before the full program.

Additional sources • Las Vegas Review-Journal

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