Danny Gans, a singer, actor and impressionist who for nearly two decades was one of the most popular entertainers on the Las Vegas Strip, died in his sleep Friday. He was 52.
Gans was found dead by his wife, Julie, at their home in Henderson, Nev. A cause of death has not yet been released.
Gans had performed at the Wynn Resorts’ Encore Theater since February and at the Mirage for more than eight years before that. Though not well-known outside Vegas, his family-friendly performances had sold more tickets than Elvis Presley or the Rat Pack. He opened Feb. 10 in the 1,500-seat Encore Theater in a concourse between the posh Encore and Wynn resorts on the Strip.
Steve Wynn, chief executive of Wynn Resorts, called Gans’ death “a profoundly tragic event that leaves us all sad and speechless.”
Gans was a hard-working, eager-to-please nightclub entertainer who did rapid-fire imitations of personalities ranging from Tony Bennett to Al Pacino to Sarah Vaughan.
Born in Torrance, Calif., he was a former minor league baseball player who turned to performing after a career-ending injury.
He appeared as a player in the film “Bull Durham” and performed a one-man show, “Danny Gans on Broadway: The Man of Many Voices,” in 1995 at the Neil Simon Theater in New York before returning to Las Vegas.
He became the resident headliner at the Stratosphere in May 1996 before moving to the Rio and then to a showroom built specifically for him at the Mirage.
He was active in the Las Vegas community, where he hosted charity events and was featured prominently on billboards around town. The electronic marquee in front of the Encore posted his picture and the message: “Our friend forever, Danny Gans. 1956-2009.”
No permanent replacement for him at the Encore has been named.
He is survived by his wife and three children.
(Barbara Scherzer contributed to this report.)