Fregoli was one of the greatest quick change artists — perhaps THE greatest — of all time. So great was he, that the psychiatric community named a mental illness after him: the Fregoli Delusion, wherein the sufferer imagines everyone he encounters is the same (different) person, wearing a diabolical disguise. Fregoli sounds remarkable — not only adept at elaborate quick changes, but also a gifted mimic and opera singer (he could sing every part in Faust). In other words, unlike most Protean artists, who are silent, he augmented his shapeshifting with VOICE shifting. Sounds almost terrifying. Fregoli was an international act. An Italian national, after success in his own country, he went on to conquer Paris, London and New York (where he played Hammerstein’s Olympia in 1896 and the Victoria, in 1906). He also made a number of magical films (“Fregoligrafs”) similar to those of Melies, in the 1890s. In his later years, he is said to have influenced the Futurists. He died in 1936. The inscription on the headstone reads “His Last Transformation”.
To find out more about vaudeville and quick change artists like Fregoli, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.