Legendary Vegas Showman Collapses During Rehearsal, Passes Away At Hospital. Millions Mourn His Loss: ‘The Greatest Has Gone’

March 14, 2019

The world of stage performers has lost ‘one of the greatest.’

Legendary magician Johnny Thompson, 84, died after a brief illness. He leaves behind his wife, multiple generations of adoring fans, and countless appreciative magicians who attribute their success in the art to his mentorship.

“The showman was a versatile performer of music, magic, comedy, and drama throughout his decades-long career.”

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Thompson, the legendary showman, known as 'The Great Tomsoni’ and an inspiration to generations of magicians, died Saturday afternoon at Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center in Las Vegas. He was 84.

“Thompson was a model Vegas showman, usually tuxedo-clad, working with his wife and ditsy stage assistant, Pam.

“The team developed a highly popular comedy-illusion act, with Thompson’s artistry effectively offset by Pam’s gum-chewing, eye-rolling responses. The duo were a well-known specialty act on the Strip in the 1970s and ’80s.”

Most notably, they were part of the famed 'Lido de Paris' show at the Stardust Casino.

His own career is not what he will be best remembered for, however. It's what he did for others that will keep him in people's hearts for generations to come.

From close friend, Penn Jillette:

"I miss him so much."

And on Penn & Teller's Instagram:

"Thank you, Johnny. We love you."

“Along with Penn & Teller, Thompson was friendly with, and worked as a consultant with, such Las Vegas stars as Siegfried & Roy; Criss Angel, especially the first couple of seasons of Angel’s ‘Mindfreak’ TV show; David Copperfield; Lance Burton; Mac King; Mat Franco; and David Blaine.”

In recognition of all the unparalleled contributions Thompson made to the field of magic entertainment, the Academy of Magical Arts honored him with two of the industry’s top awards: ‘Best Stage Magician’ and the ‘Master’s Fellowship.’

Without a doubt, 'The Great Thomsoni’ will never be forgotten, especially by those whose career he helped launch, and whose friendship they treasure. Many of them paid heartfelt tribute to the one-of-a-kind master of ‘legerdemain,’ Johnny Thompson.

From Lance Burton, Las Vegas headliner:

“I am heartbroken today to lose my longtime friend and mentor Johnny Thompson. For almost 40 years, Johnny has been intimately involved in all aspects of my career. He has written material for my TV shows as well as my live act.

"From teaching me the ‘Cups and Balls’ to suggesting music for new routines, from inventing new stage illusions to giving me jokes out of his own act, Johnny has been a living oracle. He was quite simply the best magician I ever knew. Johnny Thompson was like a second father to me. In the world of magic, he is irreplaceable.”

“The Great Johnny Thompson passed away today. A kind and generous man, a really great magician with sharp mind and world-class chops. His sense of humor was edgy yet free of malice. A life-long guardian of The Secrets, who always helped others learn and grow. Utterly Irreplaceable"

“The Greatest has gone. It doesn't matter what you think you can do, or what you think you came up with. Johnny Thompson did it, and did it better. Without Johnny I would have no show, no career, but most importantly, no Johnny. “

“We are devastated by the loss of our dear friend, Johnny Thompson. He was a great magician, mentor, and most of all, a kind and generous friend. He was extraordinary. May he rest in peace.“

“Magic legend Johnny Thompson has passed. Maybe the strongest magic in a comedy act ever. Brilliant. RIP“


From David Copperfield, who headlines his own theater at MGM Grand:



“He was a great performer, teacher and friend … I’m heartbroken.” 

Please enjoy this 1977 video in which ‘The Great Tomsoni’ (joined by gum-pipping, eye-rolling assistant Pam) does what only he would do…

R.I.P Johnny.

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