Singer-impressionist-comedian Danny Gans — barely known outside of Las Vegas but one of that city’s biggest draws — died early Friday morning in his Vegas home.
He was 52; no cause of death has yet been announced. He complained of shortness of breath in at about 3:30 a.m., but was dead by the time paramedics arrived.
Voted Las Vegas’ "Entertainer of the Year" for 11 of the past 13 years, Gans was doing a one-man show on Broadway when he landed a three-month gig at the Stratosphere Hotel. It became such a big draw that it led to a stint at the Rio and then a nine-year deal to play in his own 1,250-seat theater at the Mirage Hotel in 2000.
"He was terrific, a real riot," James Steven Sadwith, who directed Gans as Dean Martin in a 90s "Sinatra" TV miniseries told TheWrap. He was very funny and easy to work with. He had no attitude whatsoever and was really excited to have the work. I had no clue he was going to turn into a huge Vegas sensation."
In February, he was signed by hotel mogul Steve Wynn to the Encore Theater, located between Wynn’s Encore and the Wynn Las Vegas hotel.
"Elaine and I and all of us in the company are devastated at the loss of our brilliant, talented and loving friend," Steve Wynn said in a statement. "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. … We will all try to go on with our lives without dear friend. At this moment it seems almost impossible."
His manager, Chip Lightman, said in a statement that Gans would be remembered as a "man who loved his family, loved God and loved the city of Las Vegas."
"Danny has been my partner and dear friend for over 18 years," Lightman said. "I will truly miss him."
Fellow Vegas performers Siegfried & Roy told Entertainment Tonight they were "devastated" by the "tragic loss" of the Vegas icon.
"Having performed on the same property with Danny for many years, we were blessed to be touched by his generous spirit, kind heart and insurmountable talent," they said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to his family as we join the entertainment community in mourning the loss of our friend. The Las Vegas Strip is better for having had Danny Gans’ light shine so brightly, and it will be forever impacted by his loss."
He is survived by his wife Julie, and three children Amy, Andrew and Emily.