Today is the birthday of Jean Hugard (b. John Gerard Rodney Boyce, 1872-1959). An Australian native, he began his career circa 1896, and performed under many aliases including also Oscar Kellman and Chin Sun Loo. In the latter guise he performed a silent “Chinese” act with which he toured (ironically) the Far East. The highlight of his act was his version of the bullet catch, which he called “The Great Rifle Feat”. He toured American vaudeville with it from 1915 through 1918. When the trick was banned, he established his own magic theatre at Luna Park in Coney Island, which he operated from 1919 through 1929. His latter three decades were spent writing popular and well-regarded magic books (over 30 of them) and editing his own magic magazine.
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, 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 don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.