L Vosburgh Lyons

Dollar bills,(or higher if you can get them)

are always of interest to an audience. This original exchange which is the last word in constant visibility can be used for any number of tricks which require substitution either for another bill, or a dummy. In the latter case we would like to go on record as never having seen a dummy bill which could be considered a "safe" counterpart. We speak, naturally, as "safe" pertains to entertainment purposes only. Fertaining to "dummies" we know of those who have torn a one inch strip from the end of a bill and used the piece to cover a folded paper out bill size. The major portion of said bill was passed in at the bank, for the government accepts any wrecked currency as long as it still includes both of the serial numbers. The excuse which seems most logical to those who have resorted to such means for making an acceptable "dummy" is that it "happened when the pay envelope was torn open" the piece apparently being tossed away and noticed gone too late for reoapture.

First we shall describe the switch, and then attempt to "hint" and perhaps "build" upon the reader's own imagination as to possibilities. Sketch No. 1 shows how the dummy bill (when we use the word dummy we also mean duplicate) is to be folded, i.e., first the long way, then twice to make a packet 1-J x li in size. The No. 1. sketch is shown in the position, as to its folding, by which it is finger palmed in sketch No. 2. This is Important.

"We shall suppose j right off, that you have the bill finger palmed as described. The borrowed bill is folded once long and two short. You take it in the right fingers. The left thumb helps in letting the palmed bill spring open, and the finger tips of both hands come together as if to further crease bill just received. The right hand (borrowed) bill is deliberately pushed into the open fold of left hand (duOTny) bill, the right thumb and fingers grasp both bills at their near edge and the left hand moves away with palm obviously empty.

It is now absolutely impossible from any angle to recognize more than a single bill in hand (right). The right thumb now moves back just enough to let the outside fold snap open a bit through its own resiliency and then rests its ball on the inside borrowed bill. At this position the inside bill, still folded, is ready to be drawn back into a finger palm and leave the dummy alone in view. Note also that the two bills, the outside one open and the inside one folded, may be transfered to the left fingers, and the borrowed bill palmed by that hand. It all depends which of your hands is more naturally proficient, the switch being a "7-11" either way.

Tricks? They are legion. And let us remind right here that a safety factor which is imperative when the spectator folds the bill, and that should be allowed as often as possible, is to have two dummy bills ready, one folded green side out and the other black.

(continued on page 374)

Page 366

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NEW YORK JOURNAL AND AMERICAN SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 1939

NEW YORK JOURNAL AND AMERICAN SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 1939

DOLLY SPENCE, OLSEN, THEO HARDEEN AND JOHNSON In a scene from the musical revue, "Hellzapoppin," which continues at the Winter Garden Theatre.

Now, magicians are notoriously sober fellows, oppressed with the seriousness of their art and rather indifferent to humor. Such attempts as. have hereto-^TO fore been made to inject fun in

Even Eyes Go

A-Poppin'

As apt an llustration as will be found of the Olsen and Johnson technique is afforded in the magic scene which they present with Theo Hardeen in "Hellzapoppin" at the Winter Garden.

Going back a few months to the time when "Hellzapoppin" was being readied for presentation on Broadway, Olsen and Johnson felt that for the sake of rounded entertainment, it would not be a bad idea to have a turn of magic in the second half of the show.

Laughter Prime Intent

However, since the prime intent of their revue was laughter, it was necessary for this legerdemain to be not only mystifying but also productive of its quota of chuckles and giggles; otherwise, the entire pace of "Hellzapoppin" would be thrown ' out of gear.

their acts have usually consisted of exposing tricks—a method keenly resented by the professional members of the cult.

And so Olsen and Johnson, still intent on their magic, but equally intent on their laughs, propositioned Hardeen, brother of the late Houdini, inheritor of some of his finest tricks and himself highly rated in the profession. They promised him that his skill would not be impaired in any fashion if they did inject their own brand of hocus-pocus ; Hardeen was amenable to suggestions.

Johnson Is Stooge

Prom his repertory, which he exhibited for them, they selected his best feats, and then they set about hooking up matters. Johnson became the magician's stooge and a pair of loose-fittin* pajamas was an adequate costume for him; Olsen became the assistant, and got himself up in an expensive Chinese robe, purchased. incidentally, from Morris Gest's "Lady Precious Steam"

production.

To illustrate In detail the Olsen and Johnson method is one of Hardeen's favorite stunts: The escape from a trunk which has been both locked and tied. The ordinary introduction is for the master-of-ceremonies or the magician himself to go into an impressive if dull spiel on the difficulty, the uniqueness, etc., of the feat about to be done. Not so Olsen. Instead he sits down calmly in the corner of the stage while Hardeen goes through the preparations and talks about "Our Town" and the feud between the nominees for councilman, and of the man who put salt in his toupee to give the impression of dandruff.

It is interesting to note that though Olsen seemingly completes Hardeen's tricks for him, the mi-^ician's secrets remain his own. Ole goes through the motions, but he really doesn't know what they are all about. If Hardeen walked off during the middle of the act, he would be stuck good and proper. The same goes for Johnson. They are there for the laughs, Hardeen for the feats of skill; and so smoothly are they blended that half the time the audience does not realize where the one lets off and the other begtns.

Finally: Even Hardeen gets some laughs out of the show.

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