Saturday, May 2, 2009 | 2:08 a.m.
Danny Gans came to Las Vegas thinking it would be just another stop in his career as an entertainer, a field he chose after a foot injury wrecked his prospects of becoming a professional baseball player.
He had always wowed his family and schoolmates with his impressions, his jokes, his singing. So he began pounding out a living doing one-night shows all over the country.
Then he got his own show — for two months — on Broadway. Then came a three-month gig at the Stratosphere, which turned into nine months. He was on his way to headliner status. His name lit up the Rio before he moved to The Mirage at the invitation of its builder — Steve Wynn. He sold out his show there year after year.
Appearing on the Larry King Show in March, he described how he landed his next, and open-ended, booking — at the 1,500-seat theater in Wynn’s new hotel. “He (Wynn) said, ‘You want to come over, across the street? I’m building a new place called Encore.’ ”
Gans said in February that moving to Encore was “the ultimate big deal” and “the golden ticket.” It was that way, too, for his fans and for all of Las Vegas, as Gans was also a prolific performer when it came to raising money for the valley’s children and other equally worthy causes.
Stunningly, tragically, the news came Friday that Gans had died early that morning at his home, which he considered the center of his life. “I’m a family guy,” Gans told King. “I like to be home.” Gans is survived by his wife of 28 years, Julie, and his three children, Amy, Andrew and Emily.
After hearing the news, Wynn expressed this sentiment, shared throughout Las Vegas and by Gans’ fans throughout the country: “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.”