The Original Rosini

Carl Rosini (Jakob Rosenzweig, 1885-1969) was the original Rosini, the man from who the later magician Paul Rosini took his name (much as Harry Houdini took Robert-Houdin’s), although in the case the appropriation was probably less in homage than in something like identity theft.

Originally from Poland, Rosini was working English music halls by the early 20th century, where he apprenticed with The Great Anthony. In the act, Anthony was supposed to have hypnotized Rosini, enabling him to perform his own magic routines. After Anthony absconded with Rosini’s worldly possessions, the latter was signed by British manager and impresario Harry Day, who booked him into the prestigious Alhambra where he met the famous Ten Ichi, who taught him the Thumb Tie.

Ballerina Peggy Barclay became Rosini’s wife and assistant and the pair toured the Continent and South America for several years before coming to work American vaudeville circa 1913, touring initially with Sir Harry Lauder. After three decades touring the U.S. circuits, they toured with the U.S.O. during World War Two, finally retiring to Flushing Queens in 1948. Rosini’s last years were spent in Florida.

For more on vaudeville and music hall, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous. To learn much more about Carl Rosini, read Carl Rosini: His Life and His Magic, by Robert Olson.