Stars of Vaudeville #116 The Herrmann Dynasty


Today is Alexander Herrmann’s Birthday.

It might accurately said that a single generation of Herrmanns performed magic onstage for over a century. How is that possible? Because founder Carl Herrmann was born in 1816, his brother Alexander was 27 years his junior, and Alexander’s wife Adelaide continued the family business for over 30 years after Alexander died…until 1932. Along the way, there was a rival Herrmann, Leon (Carl and Alexander’s nephew), the only “next generation” Herrmann to mar the record. This influential magic family had its origins in Hanover, Germany, and was well established decades before vaudeville ever was. Carl and Alexander were reportedly brilliant magicians, but Alexander, Carl’s successor died in 1896. The real vaudevillians were Adelaide and Leon, who performed together for three years after Alexander died, and then bitterly split. Leon infuriated Adelaide by assuming the mantle “Herman the Great” (which both Carl and Alexander had used), and dressing as the other two had, with the trademark “Satan” look – mustache and pointy goatee. But Leon died in 1909, leaving the field to Adelaide for over twenty more years. So much for women being only the pretty assistant.

To learn about the roots of variety entertainmentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.



And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from etc etc etc



4 Responses to “Stars of Vaudeville #116 The Herrmann Dynasty”

  1. […] Ching! Robinson had started performing magic at age 14 and had apprenticed with Harry Kellar and Herrman the Great, before becoming Achmed Ben Ali with an act he’d stolen from a magician in Germany named Ben Ali […]


  2. […] was also a successful manager. Among his discoveries were F.F. Proctor, Alexander Herrman, and Harry […]


  3. […] 20, after having been a missionary in upstate New York for several years, he chanced one day to see Herrman the Great perform in Albany. He was so impressed that he actually stalked Herrman a bit, following him onto a […]


  4. […] 13, he ran away and became an audience plant for magic acts, first Thurston for three years, then Madam Herrman for two more. But he clearly had a knack for comedy. In 1926, he went to work as a stooge for the […]


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