Gloria Dea, The Magic Maker
Imagine this, its spring 1941, Las Vegas only had two casinos and, “the entertainment capital” it would soon become was just a dream of local visionaries and future performers alike. It was then, that a young woman named Gloria Dea performed at the El Rancho Hotel as Las Vegas’ first ever magician. She walked on stage at just 19 years old in one of her now legendary glitzy costumes and was instantly praised by The Review Journal when she “completely mystified the audience.”
She had a special way of keeping the crowd locked in, with her disappearing billiard ball and floating card tricks. Not only did she perform never-before-seen magic tricks, but she also would take her shining moments to dance the Rumba with the hotel band playing behind her. She absolutely loved to have the stage lights above her and she now says, “It was just fun performing here. I was a showoff or something because I liked the attention.”
Before she ever took the stage in Las Vegas with her now historically complex magic tricks, she was first deemed “the youngest working magician in the world’ when she began her magic career at the young age of seven. She learned her theatrical skills from her father, magician Leo Metzner, known on stage in California as “The Great Leo.”
She took what she learned from her father and her exposure as a young performer and was able to create perplexing magic acts that have earned her a well-deserved spot as one of Las Vegas’ most historically great women.
Today, she is a 100-year-old living legend that has led the way for other headlining magicians such as David Copperfield and Penn and Teller. Copperfield has said, “If it wasn’t for the people who went out there and really made magic important, I wouldn’t be here. And I think what Gloria did was, when she did her, act in the show, and got the best review, the door was open for magicians to keep performing here. So maybe I owe my career to her.”
She truly was an artist at heart as she eventually moved to Hollywood to pursue a career as an actress. At long last, she has since returned to her beloved Las Vegas and now rightfully holds a key to the city.
Photos courtesy of AnnaRose Einarsen Collection