West News Wire: Gloria Dea, who was credited as being the first magician to perform on the early 1940s version of the Las Vegas Strip, has passed away. She was 100 years old.
According to LaNae Jenkins, the director of clinical services at Valley Hospice and one of Dea’s caregivers, Dea passed away on Saturday at her home in Las Vegas. A memorial is in the works.
Dea also made several film appearances in the 1940s and 1950s, notably the Buster Crabbe-starring 1952 film “King of the Congo”.
In 1980, Dea relocated to Las Vegas from California. In her senior years, she made friends with renowned magician David Copperfield, 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 at El Rancho Vegas on May 14, 1941.
Her show at the Roundup Room is the first recorded appearance by a magician in Las Vegas, the Review-Journal reported Sunday.
“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.
After relocating to California, Dea appeared in several movies including “Mexicana” in 1945 and “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 on Tuesday night.
Those plans will go forward as planned; Dea will be inducted by Copperfield in a presentation before the full program.