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Dave Swan 1939 - 2008

Certainly another unsung Swansea success story is Dave Swan. Swansea comedian Dave Swan - born John Henry David Jones, Achieved what very few British performers achieve, he conquered America. A naturally funny man who nurtured his comedic talent after realising he was the class clown at school and could make people laugh. To appease his father he started an apprenticeship as a painter and decorator, but he entered talent contests and joined a group of entertainers who would perform in the remote Welsh valleys on weekends. After serving in the army, he got a part-time job as a  Bingo caller in Swansea.He would do his painting by day and then put on a tuxedo by night and call bingo. To cultivate  his act he would do stand up between sessions. After winning a talent competition at The Palace Theatre in Swansea. He went to London to find an agent who sent him back to Wales to graft again in the tough welsh Valley clubs and pubs. although this time on 25 pounds a night, not the pound a night he had made previously,. Dave would rise to become a very successful club comedian/singer, and appeared on many television programmes in the 1960's, and toured the UK in summer seasons but now at larger theatres and nightclubs He met his future wife Jan at Townhill Community Centre and they were married in 1961. Jan was herself a successful club and recording artist in the 1960’s Her stage name was Cindy Williams, and she actually recorded an album at Abbey Road at the same time as the Beatles.  She also appeared on “The Groucho Marx Show” on British Television and on the back of her appearance was invited to London to audition in front of Lew Grade for the part of Sandy in “Summer Holiday”. Jan attended the Audition with her agent, they loved her and wanted her to start straight away, however her agent started playing a “well she's busy right now” game, unfortunately it backfired and they cast Una Stubbs instead. Dave and Jan were both asked by John Chilvers to appear in the Pantomime “Puss In Boots” in 1970 at Swansea Grand Theatre. Dave’s natural wit and Cindy’s beauty and singing went down a storm at the theatre and the run was very successful. Towards the end of the 1970’s they were both disillusioned at the state of variety in Britain at the time. During a summer season in Great Yarmouth. They overheard a nightclub owner talking of a trip to Las Vegas he was making with other nightclub owners. Dave and Jan asked if they could tag along. They stayed at Caesars Palace, whilst there one of the party egged Dave on to enter a talent show. He was given ten minutes but ended up doing an hour, this happened again a few nights later with the same result. After they returned to the UK they received a call from a producer in Hollywood to request Dave to audition for a show he was putting together in Las Vegas. Dave and Jan went to his home in Hollywood and he was blown away by Dave’s comedy and powerful singing voice and Dave was immediately offered a season in the new show. so they upped sticks and moved to Las Vegas to “try their luck”. Dave opened in “Pin Ups At The Movies” at The Sahara. He had to learn to slow his delivery down for an American audience, and he was an instant smash hit. After the show closed Dave worked in revues in Reno, Lake Tahoe and Dallas before landing at the Imperial Palace and into a show called “Bravo Vegas”, after it closed Dave would open for many acts and remained at The Imperial Palace for  six years in “Legends in Concert”. The list of Legends he worked with reads like a fairytale for a “Swansea Boy”. Frank Sinatra, George Burns, Sammy Davis Junior, Tony Bennett, The Platters, Tom Jones, Roy Orbison and Billy Eckstine. His and Jan’s celebrity friends included Liberace and countless others. When the Excalibur Casino opened in 1990 he took on the role of King Arthur in “The Tournament Of Kings” a role he made his own for over 17 years. Coupled with that he joined the cast of “Viva Las Vegas” at The Sands then followed it to The Stratosphere and The Plaza. He also appeared on American television and Film many, many times. In 2003 Dave was diagnosed with Cancer, over the years he lost a Lung, Bladder, Kidney and Prostate. Just before Dave died on May 6th 2008 he joked that he was trying to smuggle himself out of the country “a bit at a time”. His affable nature and his visual comedy made him loved by audiences and performers alike. Such was his regard by his associates, when he returned to the role of King Arthur at The Excalibur after a break after more surgery. He was concerned that the weight of the armour that he wore in the role(over 20 lbs) would be too much for his now weak frame. At great expense the Excalibur had a custom made light version of the armour designed. Dave Swan will always be “The King” in Las Vegas’s eyes - He played it many thousands of times. Jan his wife of over 40 years sold their home not long after his death and she  returned “Home” to Swansea. Dave never forgot his Welsh roots and was proud to mention to everyone of his love for his home town of Swansea, and his and Jan’s story is another shining example of the great talent the city has produced.





Dave and Jan





Dave Swan as King Arthur

Brief Gallery of Dave and Jan’s extraordinary life in showbiz