LAS VEGAS (CelebrityAccess) – Longtime strip headliner, The Amazing Johnathan died in his Las Vegas home on Tuesday night. He was 63. Born Johnathan Szeles, it was his wife, sideshow stunt artist Anastasia Synn, who confirmed his passing.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, “The last thing I said to him was, ‘I love you, honey, I’ll be with you when you get up from your nap,” Synn said near midnight Tuesday night. “We were feeding him oranges and strawberries. He was so peaceful. He said, ‘Yay!’ He had the most pure and sweetest look on his face.” Unfortunately, the man they called “amazing” never woke up from that nap.
Synn and caregiver Stephanie Castellone were with him at the end. Castellone herself is a contortionist and was in the Szeles/Synn wedding in 2014. Since 2009, he has suffered from cardiomyopathy, a disease that weakens the heart muscle.
In November 2014, he told an audience at an ENTSpeaks event that he had been given a year to live. That night, Szeles stunned the audience by saying, “The greatest time of my life was spent here. I made millions of dollars, I have two beautiful houses, and everything came crashing … down. And I was told I have a year to live.” The audience, unsure of the circumstances gave a small laugh. “It’s not a joke,” was Szeles’ response. It’s been seven years since that announcement, with Synn giving constant care and standing by her man.
Szeles, born in Detroit in 1958, developed a magician act peppered with drug references and gruesome anecdotes such as pretending to swallow his own eyeball, skewering his tongue and taking great pleasure in gulping down Windex. He began his storied Vegas career in 2001 at the Golden Nugget, where he made the bulk of his money. He moved on to the Koval Theater at Miracle Mile Shops, the Sahara and Rocks Lounge at Red Rock. His final appearance was January 13, during the roast of ex-Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman at the Plaza.
David Copperfield, the world-renowned magician who managed to make the Statue of Liberty disapear on national television, shared a message through Synn. “Tell him how much I cherish his amazing talent, and thank him for the limitless laughter.”
Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller said Wednesday, “Vegas got a lot less crazy and for Vegas, that’s not a good thing.”
Criss Angel, a friend Szeles for decades said, “He was a pioneer who paved the road for comedy magicians in so many ways, but more importantly – from day 1 when I was unknown – he showed me so much kindness and support. We became friends immediately and remained brothers until the end. I remember when I was broke and he was headlining his own Vegas show, he would take me out to eat hibachi and pick up the tab – he made me feel like someone … There will NEVER be another … May you rest in peace… and don’t play too many pranks up there.”
Synn told the Review-Journal she was hoping to secure a major Las Vegas theater for a public celebration of life. Plans should be announced in the next three weeks.