×

Magician Johnny ‘The Great Tomsoni’ Thompson Dies at 84

Johnny Thompson, also known as “The Great Tomsoni,” died in Las Vegas on March 9. He was 84.

The showman was a versatile performer of music, magic, comedy, and drama throughout his decades long career. Thompson was born to Polish ancestry in Chicago in 1934. He began his career as a musician and musical arranger. As a harmonica player he toured with Jerry Murad’s Harmonicats. The performer made his Las Vegas debut with the Harmonicats in 1951.

Afterwards, he joined the comedy team of Lewis and Christie. During this period, he developed his comedy magic act, The Great Tomsoni.

He started his comedy magic career performing as a supporting act in Nevada casinos for performers including Carol Channing, Eddie Fisher, Ed Ames. Thompson’s wife, Pamela Hayes, joined his act as the assistant.

The act starred in the Las Vegas productions such as Folies Bergere at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino and the Lido de Paris at the Stardust Hotel and Casino. The couple toured internationally, performing at the London Palladium, the Theatre Princess Grace in Monte Carlo, Le Caberet at the Casino in Monte Carlo, the Casino Ruhl in Nice, France, and the Scala Melia Castilla in Madrid, Spain.

He made multiple appearances on talk shows hosted by Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, Dinah Shore, and Dick Cavett.

Thompson was the magic consultant for six seasons of The CW Network’s “Penn and Teller: Fool Us!” He also served as magical technical advisor to a variety of television and film productions such as “Hart to Hart” and “Fantasy Island.” He wrote and developed material for performers including Siegfried & Roy, Doug Henning, David Blaine and Criss Angel.

In 2016, he was inducted into the Nevada Entertainer’s Hall of Fame.

Thompson is survived by his wife and performing partner Pam.

More Legit

  • The dark Manhatten skyline, seen from

    StubHub Refunds $500,000 to Customers Shut Out by New York Blackout

    Saturday’s blackout in New York had an outsized effect on the city’s nightlife, with Madison Square Garden and the entire Broadway district seeing multiple shows cancelled due to the the power outage. As a result, StubHub has refunded more than $500,000 worth of tickets for cancelled events. According to a statement from the company, the StubHub [...]

  • Warner Music Group Logo

    Warner Music Acquires Musical Theater Indie First Night Records

    Warner Music Group has acquired First Night Record, an independent record label for West End and Broadway musical theatre cast recordings. The company will be overseen by WMG’s Arts Music Division, led by President Kevin Gore. First Night co-founder John Craig will join the Arts Music team under a multi-year consulting agreement to identify and record musical theatre productions in [...]

  • Broadway

    Broadway Back In Biz After Power Outage Ends

    The bright lights of Broadway were back on Sunday morning as midtown Manhattan recovered from a power outage that lasted nearly seven hours in some areas. Social media was full of examples of how New Yorkers rose to the occasion after the power went out on a hot Saturday night shortly before 7 p.m. ET. [...]

  • The dark Manhatten skyline, seen from

    Power Restored in New York City After Massive Outage Hits Broadway

    UPDATED: Power has gradually been restored to Midtown Manhattan and the theater district after what New York City officials described as a rolling blackout that darkened Times Square and other high-traffic areas on Saturday night. Officials said all power should be restored to the 73,000 customers affected by the outage by midnight ET. Local media [...]

  • Slave Play

    Controversial 'Slave Play' Is Broadway Bound

    “Slave Play,” a controversial drama that examined race and sexuality, is moving to Broadway for a limited run. Written by theatrical wunderkind Jeremy O. Harris, “Slave Play” was a sensation when it ran at the New York Theatre Workshop, drawing such bold-faced names as Madonna, Scarlett Johansson, and Tony Kushner. The show will debut at [...]

  • Mary Said What She Said

    Critic's Notebook: Seeing Isabelle Huppert and Dimitris Papaioannou in Paris

    “Do you miss Paris?” I get that question a lot, but never know what to say. How could I not? The two years I spent in that splendid city covering international cinema for Variety changed my life. “What do you miss most about Paris?” That’s a tough one too. The booksellers on the sidewalk in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content