Elmer P. Ransom: Metropolitan Man of Mystery

Elmer P. Ransom (1862-1942, frequently misrendered “Ranson”) was, along with Alexander Herrmann, Carl Hertz, Harry Kellar, Imro Fox, Nate Leipzig, Zancig, William Robinson and a handful of others, one of the founders of the venerable Society of American Magicians in 1902. In 1910 he became one of its early presidents. (He appears to be no relation to William A. Ransom, president of SAM in 1909).

A professional since 1880, Ransom was a regular performer at Tony Pastors and other vaudeville theatres, as well as the Chautauqua and Lyceum Circuits. His wife Susan Irwin, known as “De De” was his assistant.  Like Houdini, he was an active debunker, and toured for a time with Margaret Fox of the Fox Sisters, to spill the beans about their spiritualism hoax. At the time of his death he was director and treasurer of The Sphinx magazine.

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