Johnathan Edward Szeles, who gained mainstream fame and was a year-round headliner in Las Vegas for his standup comedy and magic shows, has died from a terminal heart condition, according to reports. He was 63.
Szeles, better known by his stage name “The Amazing Johnathan” died in his sleep around 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday at his home in Las Vegas, fellow standup comic Penny Wiggins said on Facebook.
“A very very sad day. … Johnathan Szeles (Amazing Johnathan) has passed away,” she wrote. “My heart is broken … one of my best friends, one of the funniest humans I’ve ever met … I loved him so very much and will never forget this wonderful, amazing, kind, funny, great person.”
Szeles started his early career by performing acts in the streets of San Francisco and made his first television appearance in 1983 on “The 8th Annual Young Comedians Show.”
The self-described “Freddy Krueger of Comedy” was the most successful solo comic magician in the United States and has won multiple awards, including the “Best Comedian” award from Las Vegas Review-Journal and “Comedian of the Year” from Nevada Magazine.
On Monday, one day before the comic’s death, his wife, Anatasia Synn—who is also a magician, announced on Facebook that Szeles is at the “end-stage,” explaining that her husband is “completely unresponsive.”
“I am losing my honey beeps. I’m so sad and feel like this is carving a hole in my chest,” Synn wrote. “His decline was fast, but it also wasn’t. He is so strong. He has beaten the odds for so long.”
“The last week has been an absolute nightmare. I don’t think we thought this day would ever come because he is so strong and has beaten it so many times,” she went on to say. “Thank you for all the well wishes, but as the news spreads it’s getting overwhelming and I’m going to have to take a step back.”
Szeles had been diagnosed with “a serious heart condition” in March 2007. The performer’s website described the condition as cardiomyopathy—a degenerative disease that weakens the heart muscle—and stated at the time that he was doing well following a combination of weight loss and blood thinners.
As his heart condition worsened over the years, Szeles announced in 2014 that he would effectively retire and perform two final shows. Both performances were completely sold out and he received standing ovations each night.
Several months later, he said during an interview on “ENT Speaks” that he had just one year to live, but he defied his initial terminal prognosis and even played several more shows across the United States in 2017.
The renowned magician was also featured in a 2019 Hulu release titled “The Amazing Johnathan Documentary”—documenting Szeles’ journey with his heart condition and ambition to return to the stage in his 2017 comeback tour.