A few notes on the multi-skill variety entertainer Edward Maro (Walter Truman Best, 1868-1908).
Originally from Montpelier, Vermont, Maro mostly worked on the Chautauqua and Lyceum circuits, and was one of the first magicians to headline there. Though billed as the Prince of Magic, he developed plenty of other skills and incorporated them into his act, including shadowgraphy, an “Art Seance” (which involved him drawing lighting sketches supposedly at the direction of spirits), and music which he would play upon numerous instruments, including guitar, double bass, saxophone, and the “googlepeg”, a whimsical one-stringed instrument he invented. His illusions included “Meteoric Ribbons”, “Flags of all Nations”, “Magic of the Orient”, “The Skull of Cagliostro“, and “The Spirit Cabinet of Balsamo“. In his off hours, he also wrote music, painted, was a photographer, and collected daggers!
Maro’s assistants were his wife Allie and Alonzo Moore, later known as The Black Herrmann. Maro abode in a house he called Maronook, on Lake Lelanu, Michigan. He was a mentor and inspiration to Germain, John Blackedge (an amateur who performed for FDR), and Silent Mora, whose stage name was devised by switching the vowels in his name.
Not yet 40 when he died of typhus, Maro remained interesting even after death. His grave marker in St. Charles, IL is a 5.5. ton boulder, he had arranged to have transported from his property. See it here.
For more on the variety arts, including vaudeville and Chautauqua, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous,