Gloria Dea, 100, Continues To Bring Glory To Magic, Las Vegas

Posted on: August 26, 2022, 05:20h. 

Last updated on: August 29, 2022, 01:18h.

Many younger people may not recognize the name Gloria Dea. But this week, she was honored as Las Vegas’ first performing magician, preserving her rightful place in history.

Gloria Dea in a photo from her post-WW 2 days as an actress and magician
Gloria Dea in a photo from her post-WWII days as an actress and magician. She was honored this week for being Las Vegas’s first performing magician. (Image: notreCinema)

On Thursday, Dea was given the ceremonial key to the Las Vegas Strip at the Westgate Resort and Casino. (That is her favorite casino, the Review-Journal revealed.) The event was attended by modern headlines like David Copperfield and Teller of Penn and Teller.

Dea began her career 81 years earlier, starting on May 14, 1941 — seven months before the invasion of Pearl Harbor. Dea, then just 19, began performing her magic act at the El Rancho Vegas’s Roundup Room. It is generally accepted as the first appearance by a magician in Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Review-Journal recalled this week.

She started with two shows a night. The crowds went wild for her billiard-ball trick and a floating-card trick. Her father, magician Leo Metzner, known on stage as “The Great Leo,” taught her how to do those tricks as a child.

Dea also performed the rumba and other dances back in those days in live performances. The El Rancho hotel band provided the music.

Dea Opened the Door

David Copperfield spoke about Dea’s groundbreaking role during the key ceremony. He also performed a card trick with Dea.

“Magic is such an important part of this town,” Copperfield was quoted by KVVU, a local TV station. “There’s more magic now than ever before. Gloria, in a way, opened that door.”

Magician Gloria Dea in a recent photo
Magician Gloria Dea in a recent photo. She turned 100 this week, (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom also pointed out that Dea was the “first magician of any kind, male or female,” to perform in Las Vegas.

Several magicians are working to ensure future generations learn about Dea. They include AnnaRose Einarsen, a hypnotist, and magician Lance Rich. Plans are in place to collect Dea’s artifacts and make a display at a local museum, KVVU said.

Given Key to The Strip

Dea performed in Las Vegas for about a half-dozen years. In the post-war years, she returned to her native California, where she acted in Hollywood movies. During one role in King of The Congo, she costarred with Buster Crabbe.

She later worked in sales. But as time went on, she returned to Las Vegas. Many people did not remember her earlier days. But word spread of her groundbreaking magic acts among today’s headlining magicians.

Dea still performs magic tricks at an assisted-living residence in Las Vegas, where she now resides. The audience still appreciates the act.