Gloria Dea, the Las Vegas Strip's first magician, dies at 100

John Katsilometes, Las Vegas Review-Journal on

Published in Entertainment News

LAS VEGAS — Gloria Dea, the first magician to perform on what would be the Las Vegas Strip, only to be rediscovered in the twilight of her life, has died. She was 100.

Dea died of coronary artery disease at 6:35 a.m. Saturday her caregiver, Beth Bowes, said Saturday morning. Dea died in hospice care at her Las Vegas residence. Plans for a memorial are to be determined.

“Gloria was amazing. She was charming funny and engaging,” magician David Copperfield, who befriended Dea in her later years, said Saturday. “And in Vegas, as a young magician, she started it all. It was an honor to know her.”

Dea was an only child and had no immediate family.

Bowes had cared for her for years and spent more time with Dea than anyone late in her life.

“Gloria was an amazing woman who accomplished an amazing amount of stuff,” Bowes said Saturday. “She deserved all the accolades she got. Her personality was the catalyst to achieve it.”


Dea was a budding, 19-year-old entertainer when she performed at El Rancho Vegas on May 14, 1941. Her show that night at the Roundup Room is the first recorded appearance by a magician ever in Las Vegas.

Dea turned 100 on Aug. 24, and was honored with a birthday party Aug. 25 at Westgate Las Vegas, her last public appearance. Dea was to be inducted into the UNLV College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

Those plans will go forward, as Dea will be inducted by Copperfield in a presentation at 5:30 p.m. before the full program begins.

UNLV College of Fine Arts Dean Nancy Uscher moved to honor Dea shortly after learning her remarkable story.


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