Danny Gans, R.I.P.
TMZ and others are reporting that Las Vegas superstar Danny Gans has died at 52. I remember seeing a “60 Minutes” feature on Gans a few years back, after I’d seen him do his one-man show in Vegas. In a 90-minute set, Gans would whip through maybe a hundred impersonations—-everyone from George Burns to Bill Clinton to Michael Jackson. His act was pretty corny (“Here’s a scene from ‘On Golden Pond’ “) and not all of the imitations were spot-on in a Frank Caliendo kind of way, but Gans was an undeniably talented and charismatic performer, and a real crowd favorite.
Gans was unique in that he didn’t seem to have any interested in expanding his empire beyond the Nevada state lines. I don’t remember seeing him on the road, and as I recall, the “60 Minutes” piece said he often turned down overtures to do TV. (He did play Dean Martin in a TV movie about Frank Sinatra in the early 1990s.) A former minor league baseball player, Gans was cast in “Bull Durham” but was cut out of the film. Mostly, though, he seemed to be content making tens of millions of dollars in Vegas (the Mirageeventually built the Danny Gans Theater for him) and living a relatively quiet life.
Gans always seemed to be in great shape and appeared to be the picture of health. News of his death this morning is a real shocker. May he rest in peace.