Datas: The Memory Man

James Maurice Bottle (1875-1956) was billed as Datas, the Memory Man. He was the star of the English music halls from 1901 with his amazing memory feats. Basically, his act was that he could answer ANY question, which he accomplished through his own personal system of memorization. He wasn’t a flashy or even interesting entertainer — he simply answered questions. In 1904 he toured American vaudeville for the first time, whereupon he was examined by American doctors who declared his brain to be the largest they’d ever seen. He published a self-titled book in 1932 wherein he talked about his system, and became immortalized in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film The 39 Steps as Mr. Memory. In the film he is queried about Dr. Crippen, the notorious murderer, whom Bottle likely knew through his wife, music hall performer Belle Ellmore. The late Ricky Jay devoted a chapter to Datas in his indispensable book Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women

To learn more about vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous.