Published Friday, May 1, 2009 | 7:57 a.m.
Updated Saturday, May 2, 2009 | 12:07 p.m.
*Check out this story with accompanying photos at VegasDeLuxe.com.*
Strip headliner Danny Gans has died at age 52. He passed away early this morning.
Apparently, it was at 3:45 a.m. today that paramedics and firefighters were called to Danny’s home by Julie Gans, his wife of 28 years.
According to insider reports, she was administering CPR when paramedics entered the home. Danny didn't work last night as Thursday is his day off from the show at the Encore.
Here’s the last photo I took of the talented entertainer.
Danny starred in his own new theater at Steve Wynn’s Encore after it opened in late December. He had ended a near 10-year run at The Mirage previously and had performed at The Rio for several years before The Mirage.
Steve Wynn has issued the following statement:
“Elaine and I and all of us in the company are devastated at the loss of our brilliant, talented and loving friend ... one of the most unique human beings and entertainers in the world has been taken from us in an unexpected moment. A profoundly tragic event that leaves us all sad and speechless. The loss of Danny, to his wife Julie, his children Amy, Andrew and Emily, is at this moment impossible to comprehend. We will all try to go on with our lives without our dear friend. At this moment, it seems almost impossible.”
Danny had turned to singing and impersonations after a baseball injury KO’d him from following that career choice. He also was known as “The Man of 1,000 Voices.”
Danny produced the new Donny & Marie Osmond Show currently at the Flamingo.
The staff at the Wynn and Encore resort hotels is in shock, but rumors are already rampant at the Wynn hotels this morning.
It’s said openly that Danny was not happy about Steve’s decision to sign Beyonce to four concerts this summer -- and Steve reportedly has signed a lineup of other major stars to the Encore theater, including Liza Minnelli and Whoopi Goldberg.
Danny’s show was reportedly experiencing sluggish ticket sales, and that was blamed on deteriorating economic conditions on the Strip and Terry Fator, who had moved into Danny’s former theater at The Mirage and was experiencing sell-outs nightly.
Terry told me: “I am shocked, saddened. This is terrible. I looked up to him the entire time I was trying to get work in Vegas. He was my inspiration. I dreamed the same goal he dreamed for himself. I marveled at what he achieved and just set myself a little of what he meant to Las Vegas. Danny Gans will be missed greatly -- and for the rest of my time here.
“Tonight and until the funeral, I am going to dedicate the Michael Buble song ‘Home’ to him nightly when I sing it for the troops. I will add the remembrance to Danny every night until then.”
Master magician and Monte Carlo headliner Lance Burton said:
“The news of Danny Gans’ passing is unbelievably shocking. Las Vegas has lost one of its best ambassadors. He was quite simply one of the greatest entertainers ever to step foot onto the stage. In my 27 years in Las Vegas, I have never seen anyone better.
“I first worked with Danny over 20 years ago in Palm Springs. President Gerald Ford was in the audience during the benefit at the Bob Hope Theater. As recently as last year, I performed with Danny at a benefit show at The Mirage.
“He was a dear friend, and I am profoundly sad today. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Julie, his children Amy, Andrew and Emily and his longtime friend and manager Chip Lightman.”
Hilton headliner Barry Manilow commented this afternoon: "The lights of Las Vegas will forever be dimmer without Danny Gans. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends."
Cher said, “I was shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of such a unique and gifted talent.”
Defending the Caveman star Kevin Burke, who also appears in Fitz of Laughter downtown, said: "Danny stood atop not one mountain but two: professional sports and Las Vegas entertainment. Either alone would be a lifetime's accomplishment for most people. Danny did both with style and grace. Las Vegas is blessed to have known such a kind and generous man. Our most sincere condolences to his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you."
Celine Dion is saddened by Danny's death and asked to share her thoughts:
"I'm very, very sad and completely shocked to hear the news about Danny. Rene and I have loved him very much since the first time we saw him and met him at The Rio in 1997. Not only was he the best in his field, but he was such a kind and loving person. About a month before my last show at Caesars, Danny and his wife Julie and their daughters came to see us. We talked and laughed for over an hour. I can't believe he's not with us anymore, and our heart goes out to his family. I wish them God's strength."
I've learned reliably that funeral arrangements are underway for a special service Monday and that Steve Wynn will fly back from New York to attend.
Terry Fator has subsequently changed his plan to acknowledge Danny midway through his Mirage show tonight and tomorrow. Instead, Terry now plans to speak of Danny, his inspiration and his affection right at the start of tonight and Saturday's shows.
"It will be unscripted and directly from the heart," Terry told me.
Click HERE for our last interview with the entertainer who would’ve celebrated 13 years in Las Vegas this month.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground. Read more of Robin's stories at Vegas DeLuxe.com.