Thursday, October 27, 2011

Harry Houdini - Grave

 This is by far the ultimate in magic graves. It's beyond grand and probably out of place in a Jewish Cemetery. But it's all Houdini. In 1916, Harry Houdini decided have a massive marble monument built for the family plot he purchased at the Machpelah Cemetery in Queens, NY. He had his father and mother and older brother Herman moved to the family plot.

The entire Houdini family is here, with one exception, Bess, his wife. She is listed as being buried here but she is not. Because Bess was Catholic, she is in a different cemetery. There are two graves that have no tombstone, apparently the stones need to be repaired and have remained unrepaired for a long time. Those graves are of Leopold and Gladys.

Recently, the Houdini Museum in Scranton PA took it upon themselves to have the bust recreated and restored to the gravesite. The original has been destroyed by vandals and then a duplicate was later stolen. Suffice to say the Houdini grave has not been treated kindly over the years.

It should be noted that Houdini started the tradition of the 'Broken Wand' Ceremony. This is a ceremony conducted after the passing of a fellow magician. A magic wand is broken to signify that their earthly magic has passed on. As far as I know, the Broken Wand Ceremony is carried out every Halloween at the Houdini Gravesite by the Parent Assembly #1.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Carter The Great - Grave

Charles Joseph Carter, better known as Carter the Great was born in 1874 in New Castle Penn. Along with his credentials as a magician, Carter was also a lawyer, he ran an entertainment agency, he was a producer and a journalist running his own entertainment trade magazine for a period of time.

Instead of fighting over the same showbiz crumbs in America, Carter eventually decided to take his show on the road, well actually on the seas and perform around the world! He toured the globe 7 times, though I am not sure the seventh tour was officially completed as he died in while on tour.

The link above give a little more detailed account of his life than I am giving you here. If you'd like a fantastic account of the life of this world traveling performer then you'll want to locate a copy of Mike Caveney's Carter Book. It's simply fantastic. The information comes direct from Charles Carter's scrapbooks and notebooks. The stories are out of this world.

In fact, I'll share with you one quick story that I also mention over at my other blog. At the end of one of Carter's tours overseas, he tried to book passage on a new ocean liner. He was denied passage however because there was no available storage for his props. It seems some very wealthy people had booked passage on this ship as well and took up most of the available storage. It was a good thing too because that ship was the TITANIC!

Charles Carter died while on tour in Feb of 1936. He is buried in the family plot in Calvary Cemetery in Queens NY. The photo below is provided by Richie Magic. I'll try and post another photo of the entire tombstone if/when one becomes available.
photo courtesy of Richie Magic

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Robert Heller - Grave

Above is a photo of Harry Houdini standing next to the grave of Robert Heller (William Henry Palmer) the great Victorian Age Magician. He was buried in the Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia PA. Houdini discovered the grave after much searching. Within a few years after it's discovery the grave site had fallen into disrepair and SAM Assembly #4 in Philadelphia took it upon themselves to raise money to get the grave cleaned up. Apparently a similar thing happened about then years after that.

2011 marks the 133rd Anniversary of Heller's death/burial at Mt. Moriah and the condition of the grave area is apparently very overgrown and poorly maintained. Actually, for several years there has been NO work done to the cemetery at all. It's a disaster basically. It's a very large cemetery and along with Robert Heller is the famed historical seamstress Betsy Ross. A group called 'The Friends of Mt. Moriah' have come together and organized a number of clean up days. They are seeking volunteers and I have decided to help them and line up magicians to participate as well.

My goal is to clean up the Heller grave and surrounding plots. The date of October 8th has been set for this clean-up. If you are interested in participating, please contact me at and I'll add you to the list of people and will contact you via email with all the updates and information you'll need. You're help is certainly appreciated.

Below is a site which shows the condition of the cemetery today. There has been some cleanup since these photos were taken, but we are expecting something like this.,_abandoned.htm 


I have to regretfully let you know that the Heller Project, the clean-up of Robert Heller's Grave in Philadelphia, is going to have to be postponed. Yours truly has a fever of 102. I've been sick all week and desperately trying to recover in time to make the 3 hour drive but it looks like I'm not going to be able to make it.

I've contacted everyone who gave me their email to let them know. I did state though that anyone who still felt they wanted to help the group 'Friends of Mt. Moriah' with their clean-up, which is still taking place, is more than welcome to go. OUR group was just going to be working on Hellers Grave. So I'm sure the other group could sure use the help if you feel so inclined.

My apologies to all. It's a delay, we'll get out there before too long and restore Heller's Gravesite to friendly and visitable location.

UPDATE 2014: Heller Grave Found!

The Friends of Mt. Moriah recently found the grave of Robert Heller and uprighted the grave stone which had fallen over. If you'd like to see what it looks like today, please visit my other site

Monday, August 22, 2011

Grave of Richiardi Sr

This is the grave of Richiardi Sr. He was a Argentinian magician and the father to the famed Richiardi Jr.. He claimed that his father too was a magician. But it appears that his first job in the magic world was working as an assistant and builder for Ricardo Richardine Sr..

Richiardi Sr was killed in Atlanta Georgia 1937 in a car accident while on tour in the United States.

The grave is located in Greenwood Cemetery Atlanta, Georgia.

photo courtesy of “Levent Cimkentli Photo”

Levent is a working magician and a magic historian. His magic instructional DVDs are worth ten times what he charges (in my opinion). His articles on magic history have been featured in magazine and his book Cardini: The Suave Deceiver has received incredible praise by reviewers all over the magic world. His latest book on Richiardi Jr. is due out in 2011. To learn more about Levent Cimkentli, go to

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Edward Maro - Prince of Magic

Born on September 9th, 1869, Walter Truman Best was his real name but he changed his performing name to Edward Maro. He began his entertainment life as a musician, but later learned conjuring from Dr. A.M. Wilson.

Mike Caveney wrote about Maro in the September 2011 issue of MAGIC Magazine and a photo of his gravestone caught my eye! His tombstone is a 5.5 ton boulder which has a plaque mounted on it. Caveney mentions that he was buried in a family cemetery in St. Charles IL, but doesn't mention the name of the cemetery. Fortunately, other curious magic types have searched out the grave and discovered it's whereabouts. At the Chicagomagic blog, there is a photo of the gravestone on it's side. Apparently since that time, the stone has been lifted and a permanent cement foundation put in place to keep the boulder from falling over.

Edward Maro, the Prince of Magic died on February 26, 1908 of Typhoid Fever, he was only 39 when he died. He is buried in the North Cemetery in St. Charles IL. His is the only 5.5 ton boulder marking the grave so it's not difficult to find. In front of his grave are the graves of his wife and his mother. There are better photos of the grave at

To read an interesting article about the grave and why it looks as nice as it does today, check out this link   My friend Terry Evanswood, was instrumental in getting the large boulder reset. It's a great story.

A proper biography of Maro will appear at my Magic Detective Blog later in the year.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Samri S. Baldwin - The White Mahatma

While doing research for Civil War era magicians, I came across a document which led me to the location of Samri Baldwin's grave.

He was born Samuel Spencer Baldwin on January 23, 1848 in Cincinnati Ohio. His interest in magic began when he witnessed a performance of the Davenport Brothers. He worked on duplicating their feats but the Civil War got in his way. He became the drummer for the 83rd Ohio Infantry Regiment. His regiment fought at the Siege at Vicksburg.

After the war, Samuel Baldwin changed his name to Samri and began his performing career. He chose to borrow ideas from the fake spiritualist mediums of the time and apply them to the stage, thus creating the first Question & Answer Mentalism Act. Many of his techniques are still used today.

He continued working into his 70s. In 1921 he had a short lived spot in the Thurston Show. He had actually brought with him his trunk filled with all the treasures he had collected during his years of performing.  Gifts given to him by General U.S. Grant, King George Bismarck, Emperor Franz Josef and a host of others. These rare treasures were to be a gift to Howard Thurston, but Baldwin and Thurston did not get along and Samri kept these treasures for his own. I assume they came into the possession of his daughter Blanche Baldwin. There whereabouts today are unknown.

He died on March 10, 1924 in San Francisco, CA. He is buried at The Presidio Cemetery also known as San Francisco National Cemetery in San Francisco, Plot A, Section 655.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Grave for The Great Lafayette

photo by Lucy Clement, used with permission
In Piershill Cemetery in Edinburgh Scotland, there is an unusual grave. Buried here is a man and his dog. It's safe to say that it's the only animal buried in this particular cemetery. Sigmund Neuberger, who was known professionally as The Great Lafayette purchased the plot to bury his dog, Beauty. The dog had been a gift from escape artist Harry Houdini. I'm sure even Houdini had no idea just how attached Lafayette would become to his dog. Beauty became Lafayette's best friend and traveling companion. In his home in London, the dog had her own bedroom and bathroom, right next to Lafayette's.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Jesse Lasky's Grave

Though not a magician in the traditional sense, Jesse Lasky did have ties to the magic world. He performed for a time in Leon Herrmann's show as part of a Quick Change Act and also played the clarinet. Later he managed Herrmann. Then in 1918 and 1919 he produced two of Houdini's movies, The Grim Game and Terror Island.

Lasky though is best known as one of the founders of Paramount Pictures. He was one of the early Movie Moguls.

He is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood Los Angeles County California, USA
Plot: Abbey of the Psalms, Sanctuary of Light, corridor G-3, crypt 2196

Please check out my other blog about Lasky's connection to the World of Magic.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Harry Kellar's Final Resting Place

photo used with permission of Mike Caveney
Harry Kellar had been suffering from pneumonia and died on May 10th, 1922. He was known as the Dean of Magicians, an official title he received from the Society of American Magicians. Prior to that he was the first world famous American born magician in the country. When he retired in 1908, he sold his show to Howard Thurston where the 'mantle of magic' was passed from Kellar to Thurston.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Grave of Signor Blitz

Signor Blitz was born Antonio Van Zandt in Deal, England on June 21, 1810. He was the predecessor of Heller, Herrmann and Kellar. He was such a successful entertainer that many performers adopted his name and started to perform as Blitz. The Illustrated History of Magic states that there were as many as 13 performers using the name Signor Blitz, many of whom even copied his advertising and posters.

Grave Richard Potter

We are all familiar with Harry Potter, the fictional boy wizard from England. Well here is something you’ll find amazing. The first magician to gain notoriety and wealth in America was also named Potter, however he was Richard Potter. And Richard Potter was a free black man from New England.

It's quite a story actually. He was from New Hampshire and born in 1783. History records him as a ventriloquist, but most of his feats are what we know today as magic. He apparently could also do hypnotism as well. He learned these things when he joined a circus early in life. One of the legends surrounding his magic was that he was once seen to climb through a log. The crowd that watched him do this assumed the log was hollow. But when they checked out the log for themselves they discovered it was completely solid! Another of the stories surrounding him was that he could take a ball of yarn, toss it high into the air where it would slowly unravel. Then Potter would climb up the yarn and into the clouds to vanish. This seems to be identical to the Indian Rope Trick, which history has shown is only mythical not something that was ever actually presented. The same could be said about Richard Potter’s version. 

Grave The Great Reno

Above is a photo of the grave of Reno the Great. I was unaware but there were apparently two RENOs in the magic world, not related. This Reno is Edward Burdick and he was a magician and also part owner in the Reno & Alvord Circus. The photo is courtesy of the grandkids who are keeping his name alive with a website at

Below is a printing block that I saw in Ken Klosterman’s Musuem that appears to be for a Reno Poster!
Edward Burdick (RENO) died in 1949 and is buried in Mound Grove Cemetery in Kankakee Il.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Buried without a Tombstone

David Bamberg was the last of the long line of the Bamberg Dynasty of Magicians. He was born in England on February 19th, 1904 to Theodore and Lily Bamberg. Theo performed under the stage name OKITO. As a youth David worked in Howard Thurston's show playing the part of a child volunteer during the Eggs in the Hat routine. Later David performed under the name Syko and worked with the mind reading team The Zancigs. He also toured with the Great Raymond. Years later he followed more in his fathers footsteps and became Fu-Manchu and took his own show on the road.

David toured extensively through Mexico and the South American countries. He made several movies while in Mexico. And later he settled in Buenos Aires. After he retired in the 1960s he opened a magic shop and ran that until he died on August 19, 1974. He has has no grave as his ashes were scattered at sea.*
His life story is contained in the book ILLUSION SHOW by David Bamberg and put out by Meyerbooks. Get a copy of the book if you can find it, it's an amazing life story!
* This information came from an old issue of Genii Magazine. However, I was recently informed that it is incorrect and in fact, David Bamberg was buried. I hope to have a photo of the grave and more information soon! To read the FULL Story, go here

Douglas James Henning was born on May 3rd 1947 in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. He is the man who brought magic back to the masses. First with his production of 'The Magic Show' on Broadway and then he followed this with a touring show and annual TV Specials called "Doug Henning's World of Magic". He inspired many magicians during his time. Though many of the tricks Doug presented had their roots in magic's rich history, he had a style all his own that no one could copy.

He retired from magic in the 1980s to pursue a path of enlightenment with the Maharishi and the TM Movement. It was a huge shock to the magic world. Then in the late 90's there were rumors of Doug's return to magic. He was even seen at a number of magic shops across the country. As the excitement built over the possibility of Doug Henning coming back to magic, the news broke on Feb 7, 2000 that Doug had suddenly passed away at the age of 52 from liver cancer. I believe that his ashes were also scattered at sea. Doug's life story is told in the very recent biography SPELLBOUND by John Harrison, a fantastic book on one of the greats who left us way too soon.

ALEXANDER-The Man Who Knows was born Claude Alexander Conlin on June 30, 1880. He had an early interest in magic and received some of his early education through the Professor Hoffman books. He left home to see the world and one of the places he wound up was Lily Dale, NY. This was the resort camp area for Spiritualist Mediums and Claude worked as a boat-boy. While at Lily Dale he was exposed to the tricks and methods of fake spiritualists. He no doubt was also exposed to the gullibility of people as well which would play an important role in his later career.

After Lily Dale, he traveled west to begin a career as a magician. He began doing a handcuff escape act patterned after Houdini's act, and eventually added some illusions. But on November 18, 1906 a blizzard came through El Paso Texas and he props never arrived for the show he was to do that day.  In desperation he decided to try to do his mind reading material which only required a few pads of paper and pencils. He was shocked at how this act was received by the audience. This fortunate accident changed the path of his life and career.

He would soon adopt the title Alexander The Man Who Knows and do strictly MindReading. He would take it much further than anyone had previously and made people believe he could truly read their minds and predict their futures. He made millions during his lifetime. He died on August 5th, 1954 and was cremated. His ashes were cast over the waters near Rialto Beach.
His life story is unbelievable. It should be a movie, seriously. It involves, magic, murder, the Alaskan Gold Rush, swindling, bootlegging, bigamy, and much more. If you'd like to read a great biography on Alexander check out the book by David Charvet and John Pomeroy.

Arthur Finley was a confident of Dai Vernon. He was known for being a clever manipulator though he was not a full time performer. In fact, he rarely performed and did not care to associate with magicians, the exception being Vernon and some of the inner circle of of Vernon's friends like Al Baker and Abe Horowitz. He apparently refused to have his photo taken and completely stayed away from any sorts of publicity. It seems they were friends during the 1920s and early 30s but Finley vanished after that.

Someone found him in the early 1940s and he told them he wanted nothing to do with magicians. He apparently had nothing to do with anyone, magic or otherwise, other than his ex-wife. He was born in October of 1877.  He died on May 15th, 1958. He was a commercial graphic artist by profession.
Arthur Finley is buried in the Rural Cemetery in Fishkill, NY in an unmarked grave.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Grave - The Original Dante

photo used with permission of Kent Blackmore

Long before Harry Jansen became known as Dante, there was another Dante. In fact, this Dante had the potential to rival Howard Thurston, but tragedy struck his life.

His name was Oscar Eliason and he was born July 8th 1869 in the state of Utah. He showed an interest in magic from an early age. After seeing Herrmann The Great perform, he decided this would be his chosen profession though his father wanted him to follow in the family business.

When Anna Eva Fay came to town, Oscar decided he would put together a show that exposed her methods. He did this quite successfully and later had quite a run in with another medium by the name of Harry Waite. He and Waite attacked each other in the papers and eventually Oscar went on to expose the tricks of Waite and more.

Grave - The Great Wizard of the North

Born John Henry Anderson in 1814 in Scotland. He was known professionally as The Great Wizard of the North, though he began his performing career as 'The Caledonian Conjurer'. His early act seems to be very similar to that of Robert Houdin. The differences can be seen in some the trick titles. For example. Robert Houdin presented 'The Ethereal Suspension' and Anderson presented 'The Suspension Chloroforeene', same trick, different name.

Anderson is also credited as being the first magician to perform the Rabbit from the Hat trick. So we can all collectively thank or curse him for his contribution (just kidding, we won't curse him). Another feature of his performances was the death defying Bullet Catching feat, which has been known to kill it's practitioners. He left a lasting impression on the history of magic and for those audiences he performed for.

In 1909 Harry Houdini went to visit the grave of Anderson and found it in need of repair. He started a fund for it's repair. By 1930 it was again in need of repair and now apparently the authorities in Aberdeen Scotland treat the grave site as a very special place and it's also a tourist attraction.

John Henry Anderson died on February 3rd, 1874 at the young age of 60. He is buried in the  churchyard at St. Nicholas Church in Aberdeen Scotland.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Hardeen -Theodore 'Dash' Weiss

Brother of Houdini and quite the performer in his own right. Theo, was born Feb 29th. For those unfamiliar that is leap year so he'd only have a birthday every 4 years. Today would be his birthday IF it were a leap year, but it's March 1st so no cake!

Caryl Fleming's Grave

photo used with permission of Allan Ellenberger
Caryl Fleming was an amateur who played a huge role within the magic community of Los Angeles in the early 20th century. Born October 13, 1894, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Over the course of his life Caryl was an actor, a director a writer, a magician, and a banker. He was one of the few who held a seat at the Inner Circle at the Final Houdini Seance on the rooftop of the Knickerbocker Hotel. He was a good friend of both Bess Houdini and Edward Saint. In fact, he was well known and liked among all the magicians in the LA area.

Caryl Fleming's remains reside at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, formerly known as "Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery". He is there among a number of very famous celebrities including Rudolph Valentino and Cecile B. DeMille.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Grave of William Fay

William Marion Fay was a partner in the Davenport Brothers act. He joined them in 1864 as tour manager and would fill in for the often sick, William Henry Davenport. He clearly had a bigger role than just a fill-in however because his name actually appears on the billing as "The Davenport Brothers and Fay".

In 1873, Fay left the Davenport Brothers and went with fellow employee Harry Kellar to start FAY & KELLAR. Some books say that the brothers were retiring, others claim that Kellar had a falling out with William Davenport and left and took Fay with him. Regardless, the two went off on their own and performed together until they lost all of their props and money in a shipwreck in the Bay of Biscay.

William Fay rejoined the Davenports in 1873 and stayed with them until William Henry Davenport died in Australia in 1877. Fay remained in Australia and purchased a farm. He came out of retirement briefly to try and resurrect the Spirit Cabinet act with Ira Davenport, but it was unsuccessful.

He died on July 16th, 1921. William Fay is buried in Melbourne General Cemetery, Church of England grave number NN214, 215. To find the grave, enter by the south gate to South Avenue. Turn off South Ave into path directly opposite the grave of Amalia Hirshfeld which is on the right hand side of South Ave coming from the south gate.
The Davenport Brothers with William Fay (center)
 The photos are courtesy of Kent Blackmore. To read more about the Davenport Brothers and William Fay check out this article by Kent.

Also to get a slightly more in depth biography of William Fay, check out my blog: 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Grave of Howard Thurston

Howard Thurston, the great illusionist was born in Columbus Ohio on July 20,1869.  Thurston took over the Mantle of Magic from Harry Kellar in 1908 and reigned as the best known illusionist in America for almost 30 years. His life story has recently been captured in a biography by magic historian Jim Steinmeyer called "The Last Greatest Magician In the World". 

Thurston began his magical life as a Card Manipulator. He made cards appear and vanish in his bare hands and closed his act with a clever version of the Rising Card Trick. He arranged an appointment to show his trick to Leon Herrmann and successfully mystified him. Leon was the nephew to the Alexander, who was known as The Great Herrmann . Thurston used this event to further his career and promoted himself as 'The Man Who Mystified Herrmann', though technically, it was the younger Herrmann not the elder.

Thurston had dreams of one day having the biggest traveling show in the world. He gradually added material and tricks to his show and worked the material during a tour of the world. When he returned in 1907, he met with Harry Kellar who was looking for a successor. They worked out an agreement where Thurston would purchase the show and the two would take one final tour together. In May 1908, Kellar passed the mantle of magic over to the younger Thurston. Though he acquired the entire show, Thurston only used The Levitation Illusion and The Spirit Cabinet.

He died on April 13, 1936 and is entombed in Columbus Ohio at the Green Lawn Abbey Mausoleum.
Dean Carnegie standing outside the Green Lawn Abbey in Columbus.
If you'd like to learn more about Howard Thurston, check out the new book available through Amazon.

Also Rory Feldman is probably the foremost authority on Thurston today, he has an incredible collection which can seen at

Finally, The Green Lawn Abbey Association is working hard to get their structure repaired and hopefully one day functional enough to be a working Mausoleum. If you are interested in helping out the Green Lawn Abbey, click here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

William Henry Harrison Davenport's Grave

Magician and historian Kent Blackmore at William Davenport's Grave
The Davenport Brothers were a sensation across the globe. They created something called 'The Spirit Cabinet' which was a large rectangular box which apparent spirit manifestations took place. They brothers would sit in chairs inside the cabinet and then were tied to the chairs. Next,  musical instruments were placed inside the cabinet and the doors would be closed to hide them from site. As soon as the doors closed, the instruments began to play. Yet every time the doors were opened the brothers were found to be still securely tied.

The team was made up of William Henry Harrison Davenport and Ira Erastus Davenport. William was born Feb 1, 1841 in Buffalo NY. The brothers began presenting their Spirit Cabinet shortly after some sisters also from New York, the Fox Sisters, began to claim they could communicate with the spirits of dead people. Strange rapping sounds were heard in their presence seemingly a signal from these dead spirits.

In the 1850s the two brothers took their show on the road and they were an instant sensation. Within a short time they were traveling the globe presenting this effect. It should be noted that the Davenports themselves never claimed these were supernatural feats, those claims were often made by others who had seen them. The Davenports, like good magicians, really left it up to the audience to decide.

William died rather young at the age of 36 of Tuberculosis. He was buried in Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney Australia. Over the years, many famous magicians have visited the grave including Houdini.

There is a fantastic article written about William Davenport and his grave that I discovered online. In fact, the photo above and the location of the grave below came directly from that webpage with permission of the author Kent Blackmore. The article is an  investigative story which covers some biographical information, the brothers tours of Australia and news of a special monument that was supposed to have been constructed as the grave for William Davenport but was rejected by the Cemetery authorities. Mr. Blackmore does a great job in his detective work. To read his very interesting and informative article,

Locating the grave of William Henry Harrison Davenport

Rookwood Necropolis (Sydney), is located near Lidcombe railway.
The grave location is SECTION E, Grave 848 in the Anglican (Church of England) section.
Come up through the Lidcombe entrance, up to the road which goes in a large circle.
Look for a road on your left, clearly signposted "William Drive." This runs North from the Circle Rd. Go along William Drive about 250 meters.
Look for posts marking sections on the right.. There is a track running between the borders of section "E" and section "F", on the right hand side of the road. (There is also a sign indicating Section EE there, which is accessed from this track and lies further on.)
Go down the track, only about 20-30 metres in. On the right hand side of the track (on the side facing away from the Olympic Stadium), about four graves in, look for a low-lying extended pyramid shape. The grave is no longer white as it was originally.
For those with access to a GPS, the grave is at - 33 degrees 51.986S, 151 degrees 03.148E
Died July 1st 1877

Alan Shaw, Charles Carter and Houdini

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Penn & Teller's Grave ????

When I first heard this I thought to myself,,,,WHAT??? But then I saw it and I laughed. Penn and Teller, the comedy magic duo still incredibly talented, relevant and entertaining. This was a 'cenotaph' marker they put into a cemetery somewhere. What a great way to reveal a card, lol.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

J. Gordon Whitehead-The Man Who Killed Houdini

Mt. Royal Cemetery Montreal Canada

Joscelyn Gordon Whitehead was not a magician. He was the college student (who was in his 30s at the time) who punched Houdini several times in the abdomen in his dressing room in Montreal. This led to a ruptured appendix and Houdini's eventual death on October 31, 1926. Investigations following Houdini’s death don't accuse Whitehead of any wrong doing, but in an affidavit to the insurance company Whitehead willingly admits to punching Houdini several times. Books continue to be published that point the finger at Whitehead and a possible conspiracy of Spiritualist Mediums who were out get Houdini for his exposure shows which revealed that Mediums were fake. I don't think any positive connection has been made so far, these are only theories.

Whitehead was an odd figure. After the Houdini incident he left college. He became a recluse and a hermit. He died of malnutrition in 1954. He is buried in Montreal Canada at the Mt. Royal Cemetery in an unmarked grave. The exact location is the Hawthorne Dale Annex Plot, lot # 188, grave 75. It is an unmarked grave.

J. Gordon Whitehead, today

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

David Devant's Grave

David Wighton, known professionally as David Devant was an English Conjurer during the early part of the 20th Century. He had already become a well known name in his country before he teamed up with John Nevil Maskelyne at St. Georges Hall.

He was born in Holloway London on Feb 22, 1868. Besides being a magician he was a pioneer filmmaker. He had one of the very first movie projectors in England and would show his movies along with his magic shows.

David Devant was the first president of the Magic Circle. He wrote several books that I know of 'My Life in Magic''Secrets of My Magic', 'Woes of a Wizard' and 'Our Magic'. There is another book I found by Devant called 'Tricks for Everyone' which was probably more of a pitchbook sold after his shows or in the theatre lobby. All of Devant's writings are available from S.H. Sharpe wrote a book about Devant called 'Devant's Delightful Delusions'. If you look into the works of Jim Steinmeyer you'll see that he is heavily influenced by Devant.

David Devant died at 6:30 p.m. on October 13th, 1941 after having suffered for years from a debilitating form of paralysis. He is buried at the Highgate Cemetery in North London.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dante's Final Resting Place

Harry August Jansen better known as DANTE was according to some the successor to Thurston.  Dante traveled the world with his show 'Sim Sala Bim' and was a striking performer. He appeared on stages all over the globe and in the 1942 Laurel & Hardy film 'A Haunting We Will Go'.

© original artwork by Dean Carnegie
In 1955 Harry Jansen, known professionally as DANTE the Magician died at his home. Arrangements were made to have his body cremated. Apparently, his ashes and those of his wife remained in a cardboard box in the basement of the Chapel of the Pines Crematory for forty some years. I’m not sure  why or what the situation was that caused that to happen. 

There is good news though. People in the magic community raised money to get the remains moved to a proper resting place. Donations came from magicians all over the world and with the help of the Society of American Magicians they were able to have the remains of Harry Jansen and his wife Edna moved to The San Francisco Columbarium where they received a proper resting place.

Harry August Jansen was born on October 3rd, 1883 in Copenhagen Denmark. He died of a heart attack at his ranch in Northridge CA June 15, 1955.

Dante's remains are at the San Francisco Columbarium 1 Loraine Ct. San Francisco CA

This is another example of the kindness and generosity of the magic community. See also Joe Karson's Grave

Joe Karson's Grave

Joe Karson was the inventor of one of the classics of magic, The Zombie. Joe was also the inventor of a number of other magic effects which include 'The World's Fastest Card Trick and a one man floating handkerchief routine called "Voodoo". Magician Mike Rose wrote a biography about Karson a few years back which is sold out but available in e-book format through

Apparently, Mike Rose also took it upon himself to start up a Memorial Fund to raise money for a marker for Joe Karson's grave. Through his efforts we now have the headstone that you see above.

Joe Karson died on November 6, 1980 and is buried in the St. Michael's Cemetery in Springfield Mass.

To find out more about Joe Karson and the history of magic please visit:

The Grave of Erik Jan Hanussen

photo courtesy of Hans Noordam

His real name was Hermann Steinschneider and he was born June 2, 1889 and died March 25th 1933. He was the clairvoyant to Hitler and the Nazis. Hanussen was Jewish by birth but clearly hid this fact by changing his name.

The story goes that he was in the German Military and during some expedition or tour when his fellow soldiers had been without water for some time, he pointed to the ground and told them that by digging water would be found in this spot. Water was found and word of his ability traveled throughout the military. He came to the attention of generals and began doing shows and no doubt private readings for the troops and military officers.

In the 30's he purchased a building that he turned into his "Palace of the Occult". He did fortune telling readings and presented stage shows in the theatre.

He obviously was a charismatic figure. Looking at his photos he always seemed to have a very hypnotic look in his eyes. He was a magician, mentalist, and hypnotist who used his abilities to give people the idea he was truly clairvoyant. I believe he is the person credited for creating the technique known as Contact Mind Reading or Muscle Reading.

On March 25th, the SA (German Stormtroopers) took Hanussen to the woods outside of Berlin and shot him. The speculation was that either they discovered he was actually Jewish, or they felt he knew too much and needed to get rid of him, or because he loaned a great deal of money to various SA officers they got rid of him rather than repay him. In any event, he was killed. His body was found in April by a farmworker, the discovered body was buried in a shallow grave and riddled with bullets.

The grave is located at Stahnsdorf, Berlin: S├╝dwestfriedhof, Bahnhofstrasse Block Charlottenburg, Gartenblock III, Gartenstelle 50

Hans Noordman kindly gave me permission to use the image above. To learn more about Hanussen please go to Han's site at There are more links at that site as well.

Harry Collin's Grave

(photo by Jonas S. Wilson)

Here is a remarkable grave. It’s in the Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville,  Kentucky and it belongs to Harry Collins. Harry performed for years as the official Frito-Lay Magician. He actually started work with the company as a salesman in 1952. In the 70s he was given the job as corporate magician for the company.

He played a bigger role in magic than that however. He was the mentor to Lance Burton. No doubt the inspiration and the guiding light that helped to create one of the most incredible magicians of the 20th Century.

Harry Collins died in 1985.

original photo at

Georges Melies Grave

George Melies is one of the more famous magician’s to grace my blog. Though he was not famous as famous as a magician as he was a pioneer filmmaker. You see George Melies is credited with being the father of special effects in relation to film.  His best known film is “A Trip To The Moon” which was made in 1902.

He started his foray into films when he attended an exhibition of the Lumiere Brothers Cinematograph, one of the very first movie projectors. Shortly after, Melies purchased a movie camera from the Lumiere Brothers and began making his own films. His studio was none other than the Theatre Robert-Houdin in Paris (Robert Houdin’s old Theatre that he sold to Melies).

Many of his early movies were actually his magic tricks recorded on film. But he added the use of his own special effects in the movies to make the magic even more spectacular. Melies eventually gave up film making and towards the end of his life was running a concession stand at a train station in Paris. It wasn’t until years later that the movie industry took note of Melies contributions and he is now an icon of movie magic.

His life was covered in a somewhat fictional way in the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret which I believe is being made into a movie.

The grave is located in Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise, in Paris France, Plot: Division 64

Update: I was made aware of an interesting little film staring magician Peter Snow called 'Searching for Melies'. In the film, Mr. Snow locates the grave of Melies while blindfolded. It's a short film and you get a number of good shots of Melies grave.

UPDATE: The photos are courtesy of Carnival of Illusion, aka Roland and Susan Sarlot.

Dr. James Elliott's Grave

photo courtesy of Scott Grassette

Dr. James Elliott was an interesting character in the annals of magic. From 1913-1917 he travelled with the show LeRoy Talma and Bosco-The Monarchs of Magic, playing the part of Bosco. But his major claim to fame was as a card manipulator. Many people of his time consider Dr. Elliott the finest manipulator of playing cards of his time. He is credited as the creator of a special palming move that is still today the back bone of many card manipulation routines. In fact that one move created quite a sensation in his day and many a magician built a career out of it. Even Howard Thurston had his own pet routine based upon Elliott’s clever sleight.

He was in the process of writing a book on card manipulations when he passed away. On his deathbed James asked Harry Houdini and Clinton Burgess if they would complete the book. A short time later his book was published under the title “Elliott’s Last Legacy”.
Dr. Elliott was from Rumford Maine and is buried in a family plot in the Abbott’s Mills Cemetery on the outskirts of Rumford.  Most of this information, including the photos were provided by Scott Grassette of IBM Ring#362. A Card Magic Contest is held every April in Rumford in memory to Dr. James Elliott. He was born April 27th 1874 and died from intestinal nephritis on January 28th, 1920 in Boston.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kratky Bashik Grave

I will admit to not being familiar with this individual. He was the third magician buried in the Viennese Central Cemetery along with Hofzinser and Herrmann. Anton Kratky Bashik was born January 11, 1810 and died August 28, 1889. The book The Annals of Conjuring says that Bashik was a better musician than he was a conjurer.

In 1864, Kratky opened a magic theatre in Vienna and then nine years later opened a newer one. This newer Kratky Bashik Theatre was a very popular attraction in Vienna. After, Kratky died the theatre was taken over by Ottokar Fischer. Mr. Fischer was a student of Hofzinser and kept extensive notes on the masters work that allowed his magic to continue into today. The Kratky Bashik Theatre remained until 1911 and was then demolished.

His grave is near that of Hofzinser in the Viennese Central Cemetery.

The Hofzinser Grave

photo courtesy of Magic Christian

This is the grave of Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser (born June 19,1806, died March 11th 1875)  he was a great Viennese Magician. He has been referred to as the most important card conjurer of all times. He was also one of the early Salon performers and as I suspected after so much of my research on Robert-Houdin, he was probably just as influential in Austria as R-H was in Paris. Both of their contributions to magic are still felt today!

Hofzinser was a cousin of Ludwig Dobler. Dai Vernon held  Hofzinser in high regard. He even gave one of his sons the middle name of Nepamuk. Hofzinser’s card work lives on today in many ways. His effects are still popular as are his sleights and even a number of his gimmicks. In fact, even I use one of his forces and spread cull. The charming ‘Everywhere and Nowhere’ card routine is Hofzinser’s and I’m wondering if it wasn’t first called “To Think and Forget”. One famous piece of magical apparatus that I am familiar with was called ‘The Rose Mirror’. I have seen the Rose Mirror in person as it is in the collection of Ken Klosterman. There are a number of Hofzinser’s apparatus pieces in the collection as a matter of fact. His ‘ink to goldfish’ is there as well.

As I continue down the road researching Victorian magic, I look forward to learning more about Johann Hofzinser. By the way, the photo above and much of the biographical information here is courtesy of Magic Christian who gave me permission to use the above photo. Please visit his website at to learn more about this wonderful Viennese magician. Ottokar Fischer wrote two books on Hofzinser which were translated into english by S.H. Sharpe which is no doubt how much of his card magic survived. Magic Christian has also written a couple books on the card magic of Hofzinser. For those that might not have these books, try ‘Greater Magic’ as there are several references to Hofzinser in the pages of that book.

He died March 11, 1875

The grave is located at the Vienna Central Cemetery, Group 4, Row 2, Tomb 16

J.N.Hofzinser's grave is in the same cemetery that Compars Herrmann is buried in.

(most of this is a reprint from a previous blog post I did at