Death of music 'dealmaker' in Vegas ruled suicide
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The death of a music dealmaker who helped bring Donald Trump to Las Vegas and tried to install Michael Jackson as the headline act at a themed casino was a suicide, the Clark County coroner ruled Wednesday.
Jack Wishna, 54, died of carbon monoxide intoxication and was found Tuesday in a vehicle in the garage of his home in Henderson, Coroner Mike Murphy said.
Wishna was a wheeler and dealer who will be remembered for orchestrating a multimillion-dollar agreement between performer Wayne Newton and the Stardust casino, said Dan Wilinsky, a spokesman for Wishna's latest project.
In a statement Wednesday, Newton called Wishna a longtime friend, and said his death came as a tremendous surprise.
The Newton deal was likely the first of such headliner "residencies" in Las Vegas, said Michael Green, a professor of history at the College of Southern Nevada
Wishna is credited with bringing Trump together with Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin to build the Trump International Tower on the Las Vegas Strip.
He was also instrumental in persuading Jackson to return from his extended stay abroad in the mid-2000s, said Randall Sullivan, author of "Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson."
Jackson, who had been castle-hopping in Ireland, came straight to Las Vegas from Dublin.
"Michael arrived in a private jet and Wishna and his wife were there to meet him," Sullivan said. "So that tells you that Wishna was the guy in Michael's life at the time."
The promoter wanted to install Jackson in a new themed casino featuring a giant image of the singer in lights. But the deal fell apart.
Wishna's ubiquity on the Strip was a throwback to the cozier Las Vegas of the 1950s and '60s, Green said.
"I thought of Forrest Gump," he said. "He seemed to be connected to almost everything and know almost everybody."
Wishna had recently been developing a social media website for musicians and their fans. He billed the site RockCityClub.com as a new way to discover talent and create rock stars.
Wishna is survived by his wife, Donna.
Associated Press writer Michelle Rindels contributed to this report.