Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Grave of Cesareo Pelaez

Photo used with permission of Eric D. Cade
 Cesareo Pelaez was the founder, creator, producer and choreographer of the longest running resident magic show in the U.S.. The show was called Marco The Magi present Le Grand David and His Own Spectacular Magic Company. Cesareo played the part of Marco the Magi and the show ran for 36 years.

Born Oct 16, 1932 in Santa Clara Cuba. As a boy, is father took him to see many of the traveling theatrical shows that would visit the island. These included shows by FuManchu, Richiardi Sr. & Jr., Change and Dante. These grand productions had a profound effect on Cesareo and they would later become the inspiration for his ultimate theatrical dream, a resident magic company.

In the 1960s, as Castro was taking over Cuba, Cesareo decided to flee his homeland in sake of a better and safer life. In time, he would become a professor of Psychology at Salem State College and he would remain in this position his entire life until retirement.

But while he was busy teaching young minds about psychology during the day, in the late 1970s, he was putting together a group of people who would buy a theatre, refurbish it and eventually put together their own unique magic show based on the types of shows Cesareo saw as a boy.

In 2005, Cesareo suffered a stroke. He did eventually recover and return to the stage for a short time, but his health was in decline. On March 24th, 2012, Cesareo finally passed away. The company of performers who had stood by his side for so long finished the season without him. Then a few months later they decided to put the Cabot St. Cinema Theatre up for sale. In February 2014, the props, costumes, posters, curtains and everything from the incredible show went up for auction, thus ending any hope of a return of this once grand show.

Cesareo is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery in Beverly MA. His stone is located in the back at the top of the hill, just along the center trail.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Jack Gwynne's Grave

Jack Gwynne was an American Magician and movie actor. He was one of the few magicians who made a successful transition out of Vaudeville into other markets. As Vaudeville died, Gwynne created a show that could be performed at nightclubs and on dance floors. That meant that his illusions had to set up quickly and could be performed surrounded.

He is credited for adapting the classic Doll's House Illusion and creating a brand new effect called The Temple of Benares or Temple of An-Gee. During World War II, Gwynne and his family traveled overseas to perform for the troupes. He was a popular attraction and if memory serves was given the honorary rank of Lieutenant.

Jack Gwynne was also a movie star. He had an uncredited roll in Citizen Kane, and he starred in The Dark Streets of Cairo and Model Wife. After his movie star days were over and the nightclub venues began to dry up, Jack once again transitioned into another market, this time the school show market. Jack Gwynne was born April 12, 1895 and died on December 7, 1969. He is buried in Lakeside Cemetery in Colon Michigan next to his wife Anne, and along with many of magic's notables.

A photo of the grave can be seen here. There is also a map/diagram of where the various magic graves in the Lakeside Cemetery are, click here.

(If you have a photo of the grave you would be willing to share, and that you own, please send it over to

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Compars Herrmann's Grave Update

photo courtesy of Heinz K├Ânig
Compars Herrmann was a victorian era magician from Europe. He was the older brother of Alexander Herrmann who would become very well known in America as Herrmann The Great. Compars developed his interest in magic through his father Samuel who was also an amateur magician. At some point in time, the younger brother Alexander became part of the Herrmann show. Alexander took the look of his brother, dressing the same with the same physical appearance and facial hair.

Compars performed mainly in Europe although he did venture to the United States. On January 27th, 1862, Compars, who was also known as Carl appeared with his younger brother Alexander before President Abraham Lincoln, Mrs. Lincoln and his cabinet at The White House in Washington D.C.. One of the feature effects he performed was the Inexhaustible Bottle. This was an effect where any drink called for would come out of the bottle. Mrs. Lincoln requested tea, which Compars gladly poured from the bottle. Members of the audience asked for other drinks and Compars poured each drink called for from the bottle. This was a popular effect of the time and many magicians used it successfully.

Compars was friends with Johann Hofzinser another great Viennese Conjurer. It's said that a number of Herrmann's routines were adaptations of things he learned from Hofzinser. One in particular was the "Cone, Vase, Beans, Hat and Orange Trick" (quite the name huh), was originally called "Der Grosspapa" by Hofzinser. 

Compars is buried in the Vienna Central Cemetery, in Vienna Austria. There are three magicians buried in this cemetery and I will eventually post all three. The image above is how the grave looks today. Compare it to the image below  from the Sphinx Magazine 1906, a monthly magic periodical, and you'll notice that the decorative metal work on the grave is now missing.

Compars Herrmann -Born Jan 23, 1816 Died June 8, 1887

Wiener Zentralfriedhof (Vienna Central Cemetery)
: XI. Simmeringer Hauptstrasse 234, Vienna Austria
Section: T1 Group: 6 Row: 29 Grave: 38