Today is the birthday of Percy Abbott (1886-1960). Originally from Australia, he began performing magic and ventriloquism professionally in his early twenties, at the same time working in a magic supply house. The enterprising Abbott is said to have been the first magician to saw a woman in half in Australia; soon he had his own magic store in Sydney. Gradually he widened his touring to encompass all of Asia. By 1926, he had moved to the U.S., where he continued to perform, becoming one of the early members of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and playing several seasons in Coney Island. For several months he operated a magic store in partnership with Blackstone. In 1933-1934, he started his own firm in Colon, Michigan that succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, becoming the largest manufacturer and retailer of magic effects in the world. The business flourishes to this day.
Here’s his clip of him performing three card monte:
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