Magic Moves To The Night Clubs

AS ILLUSIONISTS DESERT OLD "PROPS"

ooftninq (n.Y.) leader APRIL 25, 1939

NU.V YORK -M— Outstripped by science ax wdnder working on the grand scale, magic Is shelving elaborate apparatus and turning back the clock to sleight-of-hand.

In night clubs, hotels and grills, before intimate groups at private parties, there is scant room for diving tanks and bisectable girls in boxes. Modern sorcerers must work In the open as their predecessors In black art practiced where they could -rather a street corner crowd.

An elephant waned unseen from a box on a theatre stage or a young woman in velvet knickers floated out over the orchestra once entertained as mechanical extravaganzas, but always there waa ihe uspicion of hidden trap doors and invisible wires.

Simple Bat Confounding

To make a tennis baU vanish in midair, with no box at all, however, astounds spectators solely by the prestidigitators nonchalant contradiction of the physlcl order before-your-very-eyes.

The return to one-man mystification also is stimulating its popularity as everyman's technique. Of 70« battlers in the Society of American Magicians, nearly one-fourth are amateurs interested enough in their hobby to pay $12 a year dues.

Only 184 are full-time professional performers, and 361 are semi-pros who devote evenings to paid appearances. Julien J. Pros-kauer, president of the society, 1« a commercial printer when he hangs up his silk tophat.

The trade sees Thurston's death as closing the era of great "11< — -'■-- —^ from

Dai Vernon, shown entertaining a New York night club (Kit-Kat) crowd with sleight-of-hand, typifies the new school of sophisticated msgic mskers who puzzle America without the aid of elaborate Stage luslqnlsts." Ths line ran from r?»" "

Herrmann the Oreat, through Har- Beu"lJ' 4 _ „ §„ _ _ „

Unhappily it must be admitted that magic, u a form of theatrical enter-

ry Xellar to Houdini and Thurston Leaders Of The Trade

Blacks tone'a is called the laSt big-time, full-length magic show traveling the road. Hardeen, Hou-dlnl's brother (they were born Theodore W. and Harry Weiss, sons of a Brooklyn rabbi, generally la occupied by long engagements, such as, his summer run on the board walk at Atlantic City. Jack G Wynne still tours vaudeville, but is bandonlng huge effects.

In contrsst, the new school of wizards' sre suave parlor trick stere who purposely reduce the size of the illusion and minimise dependence on "gimmicks," or props. Tops' Include Ade Duval and Cardini ad Welshma.

Fed Seating, of Hollywood, employs tricks merely to keep his hands occupied while he tlUlavee the customers with adult patteras mil Rogers punctuated his wisecracks with a rope. Dai Vernon and Nate Lelpi make most of their appearances before night club crowds.

talnment. is a Reclining art, but this ia not because the preaent public, either children or adults, has had its All of it. The fault Ilea with the exponents of magic, who have not brought lta presentation up to date. It la obvioua enough that tha theater theae organizations also are euch closely related miracle mongers aa airfe-ahow artist*, fire-eaters, ventriloquist«. jugglers and Punch and Judy performer*, and those generally associated with tha "outdoor show business." the carnivaia and amuaemant parka.

Many great performers hive started in the circus or side-ahow tradition. Houdini and Thuraton were both at one time side-show performers. Keating once traveled with a eircus aa a magician. The magician of 'today, however, while he muat know the technical aspects of thi* field, preferably should have a theatrical background.

It has been my privilege to know many of these artists well, performers who are direct descendants In heritage of the first traveling showmen. Out of their related arts and out of puppetry grew much of the theater, which is really the greatest and the highest achievement of magic. For here is real illusion concerned with living people.

The arts at the theater are the highest development of magic. For magic itself again to become popular, it must draw closer to its blood relation. the theater, with which it shares a common origin—the inherent desire of mankind for illusion. In ao doing It may still produce one of the greatest forms of entertainment, illusion within illusion

It therefore will be necessary foe some theatrical producer with wide knowledge of the tneater w avail himself of all this technical knowledge, and to combine forces with those who have the technical knowledge of legerdemain, and then to find a man who can act and carry out the part of a magician! This will be the man about whom to create the character of "magician," and the man who logically should be Thurston'« successor.

In the past magic ahows have grown gradually the performer developing as an Institution and his program growing with him as he developed or was successful. No one. to my knowledge, has successfully staged appear in theaters, some in cabarets * m**tc ln wa* th*1 * j or night clubs, and a number enter- J"* p,iy ,8 P^ccd. by knowing j tain at club., lodge., private dinners itom the st"rt what *oln* * and at children', parties. It may b? P«*«"* having the capital to stated with reasonable assurance that fln*nce thla end' To produce 8Uch 4 there will continue to be these club m*!c 8how wou,d C08t " leMt M

were in a dark and dreadful league with the deviL

l£r. Wheatley, whose stage name Is Tung Pin Boo, and his company have lust flniahed the season with Sally Rand, famous!ian_and bubble dancer, end her 1»M Broadway revue, which waa considered the year's biggest stage event. The famous magician, who had a heavj spot on the Rand program, will rejoin Sally in Pennsylvania lr the fall.

Tung Pin Boo reached his decision to take up the study of this scarey, yet fascinating, art for his life's work at the time he, with a group of youngsters, watched a sleight-of-hand artist perform his tricks on board an Italian steamship. out of Melbourne and bound for ths states, lr the summer of 190«. When his parents were informed of his decision, they were shocked and did everything in their power to take his mind off the "dreaded" art.

In spite of the admoniUons of his parents, he slylrhept eft spending his entire allowance for eats of magic and booklets of card tricks. He continued to practice, secretly entertaining small groups whsnever possible, until hie fame in these circles spread and he was called upon to perform publicly. In the early days aa an amateur performer, Mr. Wheatley appeared at Masonic temple, Eegles hall and Elks home here, also at Salem and Colchester and other small towns in this section. He was .-me of the first performers of the legitimate stag* to appear at the Palace theatre. It was at these places that Mr. Wheatley smoothed out the rough spots In his performances and subsequently went into "big company" and made a name for himself.

In reviewing his early daya as an amateur performer in Salem, Mr. Wheatley spoki in warm terms of A, Chester Brown (Professor Mon-tsgue), who gave him valuable assistance when he was trying to master intricate tricks of magic. When he waa a boy Mr. Broirn presented the artist two magicians' tables, which he has continued to use to the present day and which he prizes highly. One of theee table« which is «0 years old or drawing room magicians, at least much as an ordinary play, and the enough to sstlsfy the demand for ¡**fbllltle9 oi makln* » ftnsnclsl children's entertainments and for killing are much less, as the scale of has made great strides in the present- email occasions of an intimate nature. ** considerably lower.

There is no denying the technical skill and abilities of many of theae performers, but their presentation for the most part leavea worlds to be desired. This applies also in almost every case to those who appear in ficlent imagination to see the enter- theaters, for here, too. the tack of the talnment possibilities In a modern modern approach la evident, production based on magical effects. To this general statement there Is presented in twentieth oentury one exception, and here we must jln his field, lived to see a serious de-theatrlcal atyle, there will probably pause to praise Richard Cardial, whose ' Cim* ln the popularity of hia art.

century It li equally obvioua that the art of presenting magic has not.( Imagination Called For Until some visionary producer or' manager come» along who has auf-;

There Is. however, another angle to » magic show. It Is like the circus in that once the original investment hss been made. It lays the foundation for shows ln future years which will not change much from the original, and such a production can go on the road for years.

Thurston, after reaching the top be no successor to Thurston. Some flawless presentation, stage deport-'M he knew It Thla does not mean Individuals may continue In his ment, mystery and pantomime have tn*1 "»»S10 dead. The multitude of tradition, but the aueceaaor to been so widely admired. Yet Cardini P^P*® *ho support even the medi-Thurston must begin where the latter is after all but a specialty artist, ocr* pro*r*nu of the magical societies left off. whose fifteen or twenty minute per- i *nd hundreds who practice magic aa I For those so afflicted, the urge to for ma nee la a far cry from a full eve-! * hobby *»tify to the contrary.

N.Y. Herala-rrlDUnelltk.,lhood of thla art disappearing, April 26 , 1936 fevsn though It be a precarious pro much as an ordinary play, and the enough to sstlsfy the demand for ¡**fbllltle9 oi makln* » ftnsnclsl killing are much less, as the scale of

0 0

Post a comment