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.