Today is the birthday of magician Channing Pollock (1926-2006). Inspired by Mexican magician A.J. Cantu he became interested in magic as a young adult, and like Cantu he would be famous for working with doves. He studied at the Chavez School of Magic, and became a professional in 1952, working in night clubs (eventually getting all the way to the London Palladium and playing for Presidents and Royalty). Within two years he played the Ed Sullivan Show, the first of numerous appearances he would make on that and other important tv variety shows through the mid 60s. He was famous less for his tricks (his most famous was producing doves out of thin air) than for his demeanor; he was good-looking, suave and debonair. Throughout his entire act he never smiled; he saved that for his curtain call. By the sixties he was acting in foreign films and American tv shows like Bonanza and The Beverly Hillbillies. By the ’70s he had retired from performing, devoting the rest of his life to organic farming, and mentoring others in the art of magic.
Here is a sense of what his nightclub act was like, from the 1959 movie European Nights:
To find out more about the history of the variety arts, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc