Bob Elgas, known in the Pikes Peak region in the 1970s as Elgas the Wizard, died Sunday in a hospice facility in Las Vegas, Nev., according to his former wife Carrie Long.
The longtime magician was 83 and had been hospitalized since late spring after having respiratory problems, Long said.
“People who were into magic would flock to see him,” Long said. “He did stage magic, like floating a girl in the air and then he’d cut her in half.”
Long said she saw her ex-husband and lifelong friend recently and said he “seemed fine mentally” but, “Physically, he just wasn’t able to go home.”
Elgas had just one child. His son preceded his father in death, dying of a heart attack at age 48. Long said Elgas “went downhill after that.”
According to a 1977 Ranchland Farm News article previewing a show by Elgas in Simla, the magician appeared on the Steve Allen Show, the Tonight Show and had other national television performances. He also did many shows at Disneyland and performed at The Magic Castle in Los Angeles, Calif.
Long said Elgas was an apprentice in his teen years to famous magician Harry Blackstone Sr. She and North Pole and Santa’s Workshop owner Tom Haggard said Elgas was also known for his piano-tuning abilities and had a degree in music.
“Bob was very talented,” Haggard said, noting that Elgas toured with renowned pianist Roger Williams and even tuned the piano for the composer of such songs as “Autumn Leaves” and “The Impossible Dream.”
Haggard, who has owned The North Pole and Santa’s Workshop west of Colorado Springs since taking over for his father and the founder George Haggard in 1987, said he remembers Elgas’ performances at the amusement park in the 1970s.
Haggard said Elgas’ performance was “very mysterious,” remembering his almost evil appearance with black clothes, long black cape and devilish goatee. He would hypnotize people and had a memorable stage entrance, he said.
“All of a sudden there would be this puff of smoke and Bob would step out from it,” said Haggard.
The Ranchland Farm News said Elgas the Wizard had a “presentation that will cloud men’s minds and befuddle the most intellectual of gatherings.” The newspaper said the magician was even known to pull off volunteers shirts “without removing the coat.”
Memorial services for Elgas had not been scheduled as of The Gazette’s press time.