Grover George: Illusionist in Exile

Grover George (1877-1958) was one of those many magicians known to us chiefly by way of the mountains of adertising ephemera he left behind. Legend has it that he was essentially run out of the American market on account of the jealousies of Thurston, who charged plagiarism, though most of George’s illusions were not unique to either man. So George made his biggest mark in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Originally from Zaneville, Ohio started performing as a youth around the turn of the century. His act expanded when he purchased Doc Nixon’s “Hong Kong Mysteries” in 1922. Nixon himself had acquired the act from a man named Okito, performing it in vaudeville along with tricks appropriated from German-English magician Paul Valadon. Nixon had also toured South America, perhaps inspiring George to try the same gambit. George spent his last decades in Brazil, where he ranched, produced TV and made and sold theatrical projection machines.

For more on vaudeville history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous,