Gerald Heaney, a.k.a. “The Great Heaney”

A wave of the wand on behalf of Gerald Heaney (1899-1974) a.k.a. The Great Heaney.

Heaney was a kid working at his dad’s jewelry store in Berlin, Wisconsin when he chanced to meet Blackstone (then known as Frederick the Great) when was in town he came in to have a prop fabricated. Heaney remained a pal of Blackstone’s and later went into the magic, prop and joke supply business himself. He and his wife Viola “Vi” McCarthy were among Houdini’s assistants during the final months of his life, learning much more about the magic business in the process. After Houdini passed in 1926, Heaney worked up his own vaudeville act, which Vi as his assistant Princess Aloiv (Viola backwards). He started his magic career with close up card tricks, then gradually added hypnotism, ventriloquism, and five tons worth of large scale illusions. He progressed from a 15 minute vaudeville turn to a full evening of stage magic, which toured throughout North America. Dante and Thurston were among his friendly rivals. When Thurston passed away in 1936, Heaney obtained his illusions, some of which became part of his act. Heaney continued touring through the 1950s. Oddly, he seems never to have appeared on television.

For more on vaudeville history, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.