Meet Jay Marshall and “Lefty”

A brief nod to magician and ventriloquist Jay Marshall (1919-2005).

Marshall was a true “linking ring” between the old era and this. The Massachusetts native had attended vaudeville shows in Boston as a child, where he witnessed the legendary likes of Thurston and Houdini. Boston vaudeville is where Marshall got his own start as a performer. Later, he lived and worked in New York, and became the son-in-law of Al Baker, then the Dean of American Magicians, a title Marshall would later hold himself, as bestowed by the Society of American Magicians. During WWII, Marshall toured the Pacific wiith the USO, which is where and when he devised his ventriloquial partner “Lefty”, a bunny fashioned out a white glove.

In the ’50s, Marshall was based out of Chicago, where he ran a popular magic shop with this second wife Frances Ireland. During the same years he was frequently seen on such TV variety programs as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Arthur Murray Party, The Tonight Show with Jack Paar, and Val Parnell’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium. During his long career he played venues from New York’s Palace to Las Vegas, where he opened for Frank Sinatra, and others. He was also in three Broadway shows: Love Life (1948-49), Great to Be Alive (1950), and the Ziegfeld Follies of 1957.

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