Roy Benson (born this day in 1914) was a much admired comedy magician equally superlative at both aspects of his act. He is still revered for his close magic and is the originator of several tricks in common use today. The progeny of two vaudevillians (Eddie Emerson, juggler, of Emerson & Baldwin; and Dora Ford of the Four Dancing Fords), he studied magic as a teenager with sleight-of-hand master Nate Leipzig. By the time he was ready to perform vaudeville was mostly gone, but he did play some of the remaining houses, including the famous Palace. Most of his work was in night clubs and on television. An interesting footnote to his career: he devised the monster effect for the 1964 gore classic The Flesh Eaters, which was directed by his cousin Jack Curtis. Benson is said to have struggled with alcoholism in his final years; he died of emphyzema in 1977.
Now here he is in a clip from 1955 which shows that he was just as funny as he was skilled at the art of legederdemain:
To find out more about the history of vaudeville including comedy magicians like Roy Benson, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous