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NEW DETAILS: Vegas Icon Danny Gans Dies Unexpectedly

May 1 2009, Published 2:28 p.m. ET

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Las Vegas Icon Danny Gans, 52, died in his sleep early Friday morning at his Henderson, Nevada home, has learned.

The cause of death was unknown as of  noon EST. He is survived by his wife, Julie, and his three children, Amy, Andrew & Emily .

"Elaine and I and all of us in the Company are devastated at the loss of our brilliant, talented and loving friend," his boss, Vegas developer Steve Wynn told in a press release Friday. "One of the most unique human beings and entertainers in the world has been taken from us in an unexpected moment ... we will all try to go on with our lives without our dear friend. At this moment it seems almost impossible."

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Gans, nicknamed “The Man Of Many Voices” inked a $150 million contract nine years ago. He was named "Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year" for the 11th straight year in a row last year.

Gans was drafted out of high school by the Kansas City Royals and played in minor league system until his career was cut short by Achilles' tendon injury. His remarkable baseball and entertaining talents crossed paths in 1988, when he played the role of Deke in the Kevin Costner film, Bull Durham.

He told Las Vegas Journal writer Len Butcher of an incident that spurred his unlikely transition from the baseball diamond to the stage.

"My buddies said 'Man, you’re funnier than these guys, why don’t you get up there?'" Gans said."They were kind of loud about it and the comic that was on stage was not doing well and over heard us and said 'Yeah, you think you’re funnier than me? Why don’t you come up here?' The audience started applauding and I was like 'Well Okay.' So I got up on stage and I told some jokes and did voices and people laughed and I went over big, so I thought 'Wow - Maybe I can do this.'

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And he certainly did, staring his tenure in Las Vegas at the Stratosphere Hotel in 1996. He moved to the Rio Hotel shortly thereafter and onto The Mirage in 2000.

There, the Danny Gans Theatre was erected in his honor.

In early 2009, Gans changed venues again and began performing at Encore, the sister property to Wynn Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Strip marquee now bearing Danny Gans' image is the largest freestanding marquee in the world.  Gans' new show opened on February 10, 2009.

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The talented performer had just released a CD Brand New Dream and was known for his philanthropy, having donated $100,000 to the victims of Hurricane Katrina four years ago.

He had long-running stints in several Vegas hot-spots including Stratosphere, The Mirage and The Rio, before billionaire Steve Wynn enticed him to Encore - sister property to Wynn Las Vegas in Feb 2009.

The cause of death is unknown.

(Photo: ZUMA Press)



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