Born Abraham Laski this day in 1859, this Polish native changed his name to Herbert Albini and first began performing magic in England before moving to the USA in 1891. His act first focused on close-up magic; his trademark was a stage littered with discarded playing cards (he tossed a deck away after every trick). Towards the end of his life he promoted himself to “Albini the Great” and introduced large-scale illusions, such as levitations and vanishings, conducted while he was dressed as Mephistopheles. He passed away in 1913. Many of his illusions were then purchased by Blackstone, and became a part of his act.
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.