Today is the birthday of George F. Reuschling, a.k.a. George LaFollette a.k.a the Great LaFollette a.k.a Rush Ling Toy (1886-1960). As we have described here, Chinese magicians were all the rage in the early part of the last century, which is why by 1912, Baltimore native Reuschling was working the Keith circuit as Rush Ling Toy. In 1914, he expanded the act, becoming The Great Lafollette (a play on the recently deceased Great Lafayette), as well as effecting a series of quick changes into his original persona Rush Ling Toy as well as Hermann the Great, Harry Kellar, Buatier de Kolter and others. Over the years he also developed other quick change acts, such as the “Book of Life” wherein he managed to change his face between glances into a large book, and “The Arrest”, wherein he played five charactrers in a robbery, changing every time he ran behind a kiosk. He was performing with Rajah Raboid on Broadway as late as 1931, and in his final years operating a magic shop in Florida. See more on him here.
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 my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc