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.