Jacques Inaudi: The Piedmont Prodigy

Jacques Inaudi (Giacomo Inaudi, 1867-1950) was an internationally known math prodigy from Northern Italy. Studied and written about by major scientists, his fame brought him to the attention of impresarios, allowing him to earn a living by demonstrating his abilities in public.

The “Lightning Calculator” was a specialty in dime museums and vaudeville. Not a large one — we’ve only written about one of these geniuses on Travalanche, Professor Hutchings. This is because they were by definition rare: individuals who could rapidly solve daunting math problems entirely in their heads. As an act, it probably played quite similar to that of Datas: The Memory Man — an audience member gives him a problem, he repeats it back, thinks a second, then gives the answer. There’s not much visually to such an act, but it can’t fail to impress those who are paying attention.

While he had been performing in public since childhood, Inaudi was first presented by French magician de Thorcey (Albert Ferdinand Guyot) in Paris in the early 1890s. He was a was a natural for venues like the Theater Robert-Houdin and the Folies Bergere, and played music halls through the mid 1930s. Not bad for a Shepherd from the Hills! We also know that he toured American vaudeville, as evidenced by this 1901 item in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. His tours as a performer took him as far away as Australia and New Zealand. His passing in 1950 rated this article in the New York Times.

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