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Gloria Dea, the first magician to perform on the Las Vegas Strip, dies at 100


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

Dea died Saturday at her Las Vegas residence, said LaNae Jenkins, director of clinical services for Valley Hospice, who was one of Dea’s caregivers. A memorial is being planned.

Dea also appeared in several films in the 1940s and 1950s, including “King of the Congo,” starring Buster Crabbe, in 1952.

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

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

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

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

“There really was no Strip in those days,” Dea told the newspaper last August on her 100th birthday. “We had Last Frontier and El Rancho Vegas. They had just started building the Flamingo.”

Dea did magic that night and more.

“I also danced. I did the rumba because it was hard to keep putting together all my magical things,” Dea said.

After moving to California, Dea appeared in several films, including “Mexicana” in 1945 and “Plan 9 from Outer Space” in 1957.

“I was at the Saturday matinees, for the kids,” he said. “’Plan 9 from Outer Space’ was the worst movie of all time. … However, I had fun doing it.”

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 one of the best sales representatives.

According to the Review-Journal, Dea was an only child with no immediate family. Her husband, Sam Anzalone, a former California auto sales executive, died in January 2022.

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

Those plans will go ahead. Dea will be included by Copperfield in a presentation before the full program.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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