Entertainer Dave Swan dies at age 69

Dave Swan, who for 17 years played King Arthur in the Excalibur's "Tournament of Kings," died Tuesday at a local hospice after a long bout with cancer. He was 69.

The Welsh entertainer came to Las Vegas as a comedian in 1979, and estimated in early 2007 that he had done 22,000 performances on the Strip.

Swan spent six years as the original host of "Legends in Concert" at the Imperial Palace in the 1980s. He also performed a musical comedy act in the long-running afternoon show "Viva Las Vegas."

"I've got some firsts in this town that nobody knows about," Swan noted in January 2007. "I was the first comic ever to walk onstage at the Imperial Palace (with "Bravo Vegas" in 1982), the first comic ever to walk onstage at the Stratosphere and the last comic ever to work the Copa Room at the Sands," when "Viva" closed the Sands and moved to the Stratosphere in 1996.

But countless families best knew Swan from the Excalibur show originally called "King Arthur's Tournament," which he opened in June 1990. "Dave just brought a lot of fun, comedic energy," says Phil Shelburne, the show's director. "He made that part and he was great in it."

"He worked seven days a week and never took a day off for years," says Mike Hartzell, entertainment director for the Excalibur. "He was a very funny guy, great backstage, and sometimes would step out of character and throw out a one-liner in the show."

Swan stayed with the show even while undergoing chemotherapy and the partial removal of one lung, finally stepping down in early June of last year.

In November, entertainers staged a benefit concert at the Imperial Palace to help defray Swan's mounting medical expenses.

Swan was born in Swansea, Wales, on March 17, 1939. He is survived by his wife Janice Williams, a recording artist whom he married in September 1961.

Services are pending.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.