Saturday, May 1, 2021

Dell O'Dell: Queen of Magic and Empress of Ephemera




While working on The Coney Island Fakir: The Magical Life of Al Flosso, I came across scads of photos of magicians' conventions and banquets in which Flosso appeared along with dozens of other tuxedo-clad tricksters.  In many of them, though, appeared a tall, spectacularly dressed woman, who invariably 
caught the viewer's eye: Dell O'Dell, born Odella Newton (1897-1962).  I also acquired lots of material - show bills, puzzles, giveaways and even a Dancing Dell Doll (with cutout holes that allowed you to use your fingers as her dancing legs) - featuring this stylish performer.  And I even had the pleasure of interviewing a number of magicians who had seen O’Dell (who once worked as a circus strongwoman and was among the first magicians to have a regular television show) weave her magic spell, regaling her audiences with clever banter, strong nightclub-style magic and rhyming patter.   I had long thought that someone should write a biography about her and was pleased when my friend, magic historian Michael Claxton, did just that.  Don't Fool Yourself: The Magical Life of Dell O'Dell, which consistently receives five-star ratings, is a beautiful hardcover that's becoming increasingly hard to find.  (Michael advises that you can still get copies from Gabe Fajuri, the publisher, at www.squashpublishing.com).

O’Dell should appeal to readers of this blog, as she is of particular interest to magic collectors.  Claxton has a scholarly paper online entitled "Collecting Dell O'Dell," which you can find online here.   In it, he discusses the vast array of ephemera commissioned by "The Queen of Magic":

It would be pretty cheeky to rank Dell O’Dell alongside John Henry Anderson, Houdini, Thurston, Blackstone, and Sorcar—that is, unless we’re listing the great masters of publicity among magicians. I’ve always known that the Queen of Magic could sell herself with style, but while writing her biography, Don’t Fool Yourself, I came to appreciate just how savvy Dell was at promotion, and just how well that talent paid off. She worked virtually non-stop for nearly three decades, even during the 1950s, when opportunities for magicians tapered off. In one week alone she once did 47 shows. Dell’s success rested on a potent combination: her ability to deliver lively entertainment to just about any conceivable audience, her love of socializing with patrons to build rapport, and her tireless marketing machine. She was a driven, determined woman who thrived on applause, and her career in magic was nothing short of a whirlwind.

Fortunately for collectors, that whirlwind left behind quite a bit of tangible debris. Knowing full well that her quirky giveaways would be saved and remembered long after the show was over, Dell handed out pitch-books, loop pencils, paper dolls, puzzles, and other novelties by the tens of thousands. Her circle of creative magician friends included printers, writers, and artists, who all kept the advertising ideas coming. Together, their output was impressive. Even after twenty years of seeking mementoes of Dell’s career, I still come across swag I’ve never seen before. For instance, I didn’t know there was such a thing as “Dell O’Dell’s Solitare Peg Game” in the 1950s until I discovered one last year. And at the last LA Magic History Conference, my publisher gave me a small matchbox that rattles when shaken. Its label reads, “Presented with the compliments of Dell O’Dell, World’s Leading Lady Magician.” But the sliding box has a hole in the bottom, so when an unsuspecting person slides it open, dried beans spill everywhere. There may still be some beans in the carpet at the Beverly Garland Hotel, where I fell for this gag myself.

Martin Gardner, famed for his monumental contributions to both magic and recreational mathematics, made similar observations, noting that "Dell O'Dell found . . . small, inexpensive items of a trick nature which can be given away as souvenirs . .  .  a novel and profitable form of advertising."  


 



I’ve yet to find a throwing card featuring O’Dell, nor has Mr. Claxton seen one, but would not be surprised if one exists somewhere out there among the vast quantum of material she employed. But what I’ve featured here is a piece that is quite nifty, a membership card for “Dell O’Dell’s Friends of Magic Club,” which was, at one time, the largest fan club for any magician in the world. It sports a lovely image of the performer clutching a pair of rabbits on the reverse, while the face contains the membership data. Based on Claxton’s work, it seems that the signature is likely hers, making the piece an autographed keepsake. A notable memento of a notable career in magic.


 Lastly, when I asked him to help with this post, Michael was kind enough to share this unusual piece.  It's a rare card featuring O'Dell, one of several variants that were affixed to tiny bottles of Coca-Cola, given away during a meet and greet sponsored by the soft drink giant.   Dell O'Dell had quite the knack for promotion!



Thursday, April 29, 2021

Women in Magic Month at Propelled Pasteboards!

A recent post celebrating Aree, the self-proclaimed "Femanipulator" led to a reader question: just how many women magicians are commemorated on throw-out cards?  It was an intriguing question.  While we have, in the past, commented on the relative scarcity of successful female magicians, it prompted us to take a quick inventory.  After more than two hundred posts here, only a very few were devoted to women who performed magic.  

So we've decided to change that.   Your correspondents made inquiries of other collectors and historians and scoured their collections in a global search for throwout cards and related ephemera featuring prominent female conjurers.  And we'll be featuring them during the month of May.  So, stay tuned!   



We'll be updating this list as the month goes on:

Meet Jane Thurston

Aree, the Queen of Hearts 

Mysterious Smith and Madam Olga

Mildred and Rouclere 

Dell O’Dell: Queen of Magic & Empress of Ephemera


And because we never miss the chance to highlight yet another bit of magic history, the poster above features Ionia, whose real name was Clementine de Vere (1888–1973), a British magician and illusionist also known as Clementine Weedon and Princess Clementine Eristavi Tchitcherine.  Though we are unlikely to turn up a throwing card from her relatively short, though remarkable career, Ionia has left behind some beautiful lithographic magic posters. Her magic act, built by her father, illusionist Charles de Vere, debuted in September 1910 in Marseilles.  She prominently featured trained animals in her act, deployed skills learned traveling with a circus animal trainer, whom she married.  After remarkable success in Europe, a planned tour of the U.S. failed after a prominent theater with which she had contracted declared bankruptcy before her tour could begin.  Her brief career ended after a second marriage to a Russian prince, and her magic equipment may have been destroyed in the Russian Revolution.   

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Magical Gold from the Green River

 



You might have seen a collectible like this sold to magic collectors as a “magic token.”  Yet examination of this coin reveals nothing about any particular magician, unlike tokens for many of the performers seen on this site, like T. Nelson Downs and Howard Thurston.  What makes this token a magic collectible is an audacious advertising scheme by the purveyors of Green River Whiskey, which parallels the cobranding efforts of playing card manufacturers in producing some of the best throwing cards.  In fact, our discussion of the promotional efforts by Bicycle Playing cards foreshadows the marketing bonanza which yielded magical gold from the Green River.  

In November 1935, the makers of the subject spirits took out a full page ad in the The Linking Ring offering the following:


From the November 1935 Linking Ring


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The ad tries to reassure skeptical magicians (a group bombarded by more false claims than perhaps any other), noting "No catch. No gimmick. A genuine offer to introduce GREEN RIVER."  The editors amplified the offer in the magazine’s pages, noting "you will note an advertisement of the Oldetyme Distillers, Inc., of New York City, and no magician should fail to get a stack of these coins. This is purely an advertising medium for GreenRiver whiskey.We feel this is very kind in this company and they will advertise themselves with the magicians of this country in a way that will get them much mention in the performances of the thousands of magicians to whom the Linking Ring goes.”

By February 1936, Linking Ring continued to trumpet the offer, saving the distillers the cost of taking another ad,“From GREEN RIVER comes 50 bright new gold pieces to do trickswith. Better send and get yours, it is a mighty nice thing of them to offer these."  Well, sort of.  It was clearly calculated to generate publicity.  But in depression era America, it was quite generous.    

And their advertising efforts were not limited to just giving away free coins.  “In 1935 and 1936, Annemann devised a night club routine during which he produced a Bottle of Green River Whisky and presented other tricks plugging the product,” Jean Hugard wrote in Magic Magazine for March 1960. “Under the liquor company's sponsorship he toured for six months in the middle west, then came east with ‘The Green River Revue.’” 

Indeed, The Sphinx reported in March 1936 that  “Theodore Annemann, S.A.M. (Syracuse Assembly), of Waverly, N. Y., billed as"The Deceptionist Supreme," and Jean Irving, S.A.M. (Parent Assembly), of Jersey City, N. J. ‘presenting prestidigitational peculiarities’ have been playing in the Green River Revue which has been on tour as an advertising proposition for Green River Whiskey.”

At this writing I've completed nine weeks with the Green River Revue and the end hasn't popped, into view as yet,” Annemann wrote in the Jinx for March 1936. “From Pittsburgh to New York for the annual Liquor Show we have covered 117 night clubs and dinner spots.”

That’s a lot of advertising, in the hands of master like Ted Annemann.  Not bad for the cost of some fake gold coins . . . Those coins do seem lucky.  Maybe I should pick one up some day.   
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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Jean De Jeu, the Wizard a/k/a Jean De Jen


Regular readers have already seen a card featuring De Jeu the Wizard, as part of Jay Hunter's assembly of Bicycle Promotional cards.  The custom card here features some additional details about this performer, who was clearly influenced by the unparalled success of Alexander the Man Who Knows.  In fact, when I picked this card up from Ray Goulet's collection in early 2017, I initially thought that De Jeu could be yet another stage name for Claude Alexander Colin, who performed under a number of names (including Astro the Seer) because of, among other things, many scrapes with the law.


But that initial impression was quickly dispelled through a bit of research.  Turns out Jean De Jeu (b. 1896) was a noted Lyceum performer and a formidible businessman.   Based on the styling and approach used on this card, he was clearly influenced by Alexander the Man Who Knows, who was, after all, quite the magic superstar.   According to Grdina, De Jeu changed his name to De Jen in or around 1921, due to concerns about anti-semetism.   And, indeed, the historical record bears this out -- by the 1920s, all references to this performer use the name Jean (and sometimes John) De Jen.

He worked as a stage magician throughout the 1920s, taking on the sideline of booking other acts. Several ads in periodicals reflect the fact the he bought and then sold entire magic acts and pieces, including Karl Germain's black art act.

While we often focus on the charming details of the performers featured here, not everyone adored De Jeu.  Here's what Stuart Cramer had to say about De Jeu, according to a piece reprinted in Magic magazine in 2003:


"I admired him as a magician, but intensely disliked him as a person. It probably harks back to the time I assisted him as a high school kid, at the 1930 IBM Convention in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I was surprised when I went to his apartment in Cleveland Heights to learn there would be no rehearsal, just a typewritten sheet of instructions. The act didn't come off well, and it earned me a blistering and embarrassing bawling out after the show. I hadn't even known how the Asrah worked until I was pushing the table offstage with Mrs. De Jen inside. I later overheard De Jen blaming some of his own flubs on "that fool of a new assistant." I was so incensed that I took the bus home." 

By 1930, in the height of the Great Depression, De Jen accepted a sales position with General Electric, ending his stage magic career.  After retiring from GE, he founded his own visual presentation company, Oravision, which marketed easels, podia and similar devices for public speakers.  In The Perennial  Mystics No. 2, James Hagy presents a detailed biography of De Jen's life and career.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

 Mildred and Rouclere – A Magical Couple

In the 1880s, while Alexander Herrmann and Harry Kellar were battling it out for the title of “America’s favorite magician,” a young performer was busting his back and paying his dues on the road to magical greatness – Harry Rouclere, a man of firsts.


Born on June 3, 1866, in Patterson, New Jersey, Rouclere first became interested in magic after seeing the performance of Francois Blitz, one of the many imitators of the well-known magician Signor Blitz. By January of 1879, Rouclere was appearing as “The Boy Magician.”


Here is their promotional card that may, or may not have been scaled into the audience, but regardless, it's a beauty. The front shows the Rouclere's in their prime.  Underneath their photo it reads "Compliments of Mildred and Rouclere - World's Cleverest Illusionists." The reverse shows an ad for Pluto Water, a natural laxative drink that was very popular around the turn of the last century, In 1919 it took 450 railroad cars to transport the bottler's output. 


This multi-talented performer started out with a trained dog act in the circus at the age of thirteen, performed on the trapeze, worked magic and mind-reading in sideshows, and even portrayed a spiritualist medium to great success. Along the way he learned the trade at the feet of legendary magicians like Charles Andress and E. Cooper Taylor.


His first brush with fame, however, came with his juggling. According to historian David Price, his only real rival was the famous juggler Nelsonia, and so he teamed up with him and they toured as “The Delmonico Waiters.” He was the first juggler to work in a dress suit; he was called the “Fashion Plate Juggler.”


While working the circus he met and befriended the Steens, a husband-and-wife team of “telepathists,” from whom he learned a mind-reading code act. In 1889, Rouclere married Mildred May Searing, a song-and-dance girl who was already well known as Millie May. He was twenty-three and she was twenty. From this point on, their star rose steadily.


Their first season was the most successful; they ended it playing Tony Pastor’s Theater in New York. During their second season, an opportunity arose for them to tour as spiritualist mediums; they changed their names to Ellington and Cook. A signature effect, presented as a spiritualistic feat, involved Harry being secured in handcuffs and placed in a large canvas bag bolted down to a platform; he then escaped from the bag and cuffs and reappeared inside a locked truck.

It was at this time that Harry became the first magician to have local committees from the town where he was appearing build their own box for the experiment, preceding Houdini’s practice by many years. It was their mind-reading act, however, for which they are best remembered. Building upon the code learned from the Steens, they called their act “Mildredism.” She came on stage and was hypnotized. Harry went down into the audience, where spectators whispered instructions into his ear indicating actions they wanted Mildred to do on stage. This might be reading a passage from a book, rearranging the chairs on stage, or coming into the audience to find a concealed hairpin. All these requests were accomplished perfectly without a single word being said by Harry.


While touring the southern states in 1897 doing magic, mind reading, and spirit phenomena, Rouclere also became the first person to ever use a condemned man to promote his show. In North Carolina, he learned that a public hanging was to take place; he got an audience with the condemned man. David Price writes: “The poor fellow was told that the show included spiritualistic effects. He reasoned that if the dead were truly contacted during the ‘séance,’ he might be one of those contacted. So, with the hangman’s noose around his neck, he was permitted to voice his last words. He told the crowd that after the hanging he might appear at the theater but he wasn’t sure. The convict’s statement assured a full house for Mildred and Rouclere.”

Rouclere invented a number of illusions, including the Moth and the Flame, the Automobile Mystery, the Clown and Bear, the Double Boxes, and the Flight of Princess Iris.


In 1900, the team decided to lead a more leisurely existence and retired from the road to operate a very successful hotel in Ridgewood, New Jersey. It served as a hub for all the famous and near-famous magicians in the country. As can be seen in the group photo taken on the steps of their hotel, it was a popular summer spot. The gentleman on the left with the can and goatee is the same E. Cooper Taylor whom Rouclere met in his younger years. Walter Floyd is also show (third person from the right). 


For several years they toured annually for ten weeks, but eventually gave that up as well. An avid and early pilot, Rouclere became the first magician to ever attend a magic convention by airplane. When he later became the official Santa Claus for Ridgewood, it was only natural that he should utilize his plane. Thus, he became the country’s first flying Santa Claus; he even parachuted presents to the children before he landed to officiate at the official Christmas tree ceremony.


He was an early member of the S.A.M., the first living magician to have an assembly named in his honor, and was also a member of the I.B.M. Mildred died January 7, 1938, and Harry followed on February 3, 1943. 


Their daughter, Mildred Yull, performed for a time as “Rouclere Junior.” I’ll close this piece with a quote from a writer for The Sphinx magazine who wrote beneath a photograph of the Roucleres, “Rather than a biography, this note is a slight tribute to a couple whose entire lives have been devoted to the art of magic, and who are beloved by magicians throughout America.”

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Pol Pollux: The One and Only Card Juggler!

Given our mission here at Propelled Pasteboards, it probably shouldn't have taken this long to feature Pollux, billed as "the one and only card juggler."  Several of his cards had long occupied places in my throwing card albums, it was just a bit more difficult to find information about him, as the traditional magic literature sources were wanting.  So I did something unusual, I searched him out, wrote to him and, despite a language gap, managed to get some interesting information and terrific graphics.  

 The earliest record I could find relating to Pollux appeared in World’s Fair in 1968:


 

"A young French couple whose names I don't recollect coming across previously, Les Pollux, appeared on B.B.C.-1's "Basil Brush Show" last Friday with a neat but brief act. First the girl appeared, with a decorative inverted umbrella on the floor from which a cane sprang into the air; catching it, she went into a Dancing Cane routine in which she seemed a little lacking in confidence. Then the young man performed a variety of card flourishes, boomerangs, spread and throw, etc., the last spread on a cane producing a dove; to conclude he flipped cards at a cigarette in a holder in the girl's mouth, finally hitting it- Unusual, and quite pleasing, if not very striking magically." 



In 1977, Abracadabra made a brief mention of Pollux's appearance on the "David Nixon Show (ITV, Monday)."  Then, in 1990, Elizabeth Warlock raved about a star turn by Pollux as part of a variety bill in The Linking Ring:

"But good as all these acts were, for many the star of the show was Pollux from Switzerland. New to me, he brought a new dimension to card spinning. I have never seen it presented so entertainingly or with so much finesse. With a cheeky wink and a nod the cards spun out front, sideways and backward with machine gun precision. The audience warmed to this skill and even took part, in a fun way, in the demonstration. As a finale, Pollux spun a card from a distance to split a cigarette held in his partner's mouth. As an interlude, he threw in the thumb tie which he did equally well. Pollux has the type of act that can play the London Palladium or the small cabaret club with equal success."

Even a report of a less successful show still showcases this performer's extraordinary and unique talents.  A particularly acerbic reporter for Opus, who commented on Pollux's 1992 appearance at the Eastbourne gathering of the IBM, noted:

"Pol Pollux juggles cards. He has some of the best card spins ever seen. I know this because I saw him at the International Day of Magic where everything went right. Here it didn't and so he died a death. A pity. When I tell you that one of his bits is to flick a card up in an arc and just before it hits the ground back heel back up in the air again to catch it in the pack you get some understanding of how great the act is when it works. Also of course you realise that it doesn't mean a light when it doesn't."


After 1992, the next documented performance I could find was a 2007 Magic Circular report of his appearances at the 8th International Festival of Magic. 







And that's where the trail grows cold in the traditional magic press, leaving the extraordinary talents of this dynamic performer in a mysterious lurch.




But, as regular readers of these posts know, the intrepid curiosity of those of us at Propelled Pasteboards is difficult to satisfy.   Through a series of web searches, I located Pollux and his assistant, who supplied me with several of the photos seen here, and more importantly, answers!



Turns out, Pollux was simply too busy having a fabulous career, working venues not covered by our usual sources.   Pollux advised he was most active from 1962 through around 2000. He worked mainly in casinos in West Africa and nearly every casino Europe - a circuit not generally covered by the Western magic press.  Pollux spent a great deal of time performing in Japan, where his card juggling met with great favor and heady reviews.




The great card juggler offered to meet your correspondent in Korea for the 2018 FISM competition, but alas, it wasn't to be.  Pollux was apparently there, and while Propelled Pasteboards is always eager to get a scoop, a trip to Korea was not within the time and money allocated within the blog budget.


Pollux's throwing cards, seen above, are beautifully produced with playing card faces.  They are produced by, and cobranded with, AG Muller & Cie, the outfit that produces Swiss Playing Cards.

Aree - Queen of Hearts - Femanipulator

Arie Marie Dice was born on June 12 1916, in Dayton, Ohio, United States. She met Donald Daniel McChesney who was an amatuer magician and they were married in 1936. Donald became a member of IBM Ring 3 just before he joined the service in 1938. Enlisted in the Air Corps. His field of training was in airplane mechanics and repair. He was transferred to Southern California in 1944. Aire had an affection for magic and that encouraged her to presue and accomplish the Chavez College of Magic post-graduate course taught by Benny and Marion Chavez. She was the first woman to graduate from the Chavez School of Magic.
In 1953, she wow'ed the audience with her card and cigarette manipulations, multiplying candles, and Airee closed her show with a card castle for "nowhere". Airee was on the cover of Genii magazine in May 1953. She served as president of the Parent Assembly of Magigals in 1955. Arie was a member of the International Guild of Prestidigitators and a life. She won the "Mrs. Houdini Diamond Pin" award at the PCAM convention.
Airee was a life member of the International Guild of Prestidigitators. Airee achieved accomplishments other performers only dreamed of during her lifetime. It was said that in her graceful hands, magic transcended both art and science. Airee was able to adjust and correct her performance with each venue. Ariee McChesney passed away on June 18, 2005. She was buried along side of her husband, Don (who passed away on August 17, 2000). They are buried at the Dayton memorial Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

 Tony Spicer – The Joker

According to the dictionary Autolycus is defined as “One who is a snapper up of unconsidered trifles,” and this is a very apt description of our subject Tony Spicer, for as described in The Magic Circular, Tony Spicer was, “. . . a born collector of antique magical trifles which he has dressed up and used in his modern magical entertainments.”

This well-known British performer was multi-talented offering magic, ventriloquism, Punch & Judy and serving as a Toast Master. In addition he also wrote a regular newspaper column in the Southampton Echo. He was born in 1911 and lived in Birmingham originally, later moving to Southampton.

Here is his promotional playing card featuring a photo of the smiling Spicer with a fan of playing cards behind him. It notes his membership in The Magic Circle (London) and the Aladdin Brotherhood of Magicians. Just to be thorough he includes “author” and “lecturer” as two of his skills. Not being familiar with British playing card back designs I am unable to identify who might have produced this Bridge-sized promotional piece. It looks to be from the 1950s.



A review of The Conjuring Arts Research Center’s Ask Alexander database shows him to be a popularperformer at British magic club meetings, banquets and shows. In July 1939 Spicer was entertaining crowds at the popular seaside resort Littlehampton, the most populous civil parish in the Arun District of West Sussex, England. It lies on the English Channel on the eastern bank of the Arun River.

 

He appeared at the Associated Wizards of The South “Whizz” magic show in December 1972 on the same bill with Jeffrey Atkins, the late International President of the I.B.M. and organizer of many of the British Ring conventions, who performed “Dizzy Limit.” Dizzy Limit is the vanishing of a motorcycle and rider from inside a large crate. Spicer also appeared on the Presto Show in Wessex in 1967. On this show he impersonated a Chinese magician Chung Ming Fu. He also MC’d the show of the Portsmouth One-Day Convention in June 1973.

Spicer’s note of being a lecturer was quite true. He frequently lectured on the presentation of magic before fellow conjurors. One lecture titled, “Spice of Variety” was presented to Magic Circle members on the 17th of March 1969. He told attendees that he hoped he was an entertainer and not just a presenter of a collection of magic tricks. He added, “Whilst tricks could be bought from the dealers, experience is what counted and experience could not be supplied by the dealer.” Freddie Brickman, who authored the Circular piece on Spicer wrote:


Simplicity was what he strived for and he at all times endeavour3ed to avoid complicated effects – the audience must clearly understand the plot of the effect and the performer must understand every necessary move in order to bring it to its logical conclusion. It was also very important to have an “out” ready in case of something going wrote – and something usually did go wrong at some time or other no matter how good and skilled the performer might be.

 

Shown below is Brickman’s report on the magic Spicer performed:


In January 1972, Spicer gave another lecture and performance at the Associated Societies of the South Convention where he spoke on “Old Props and Posters.” On Monday January 19, 1973 he performed at The Magic Circle offering a variety of effects involving cards, cigarettes, ropes and mental magic. They were all presented and enhanced by his collection of apparatus that he assembled over the years. Among his most cherish props were Will Goldston’s Hand Dagger Box, Harry Leat’s Coronation Card Box for the production of a full pack of cards; Walter Wandman’s Card Box and a cigarette box that delivered a cigarette into the performer’s hand ready for production. Again, he presented Hoffman’s Flying Cards to great applause.

Spicer died in 1980 at age 69 and his obituary noted that he was a full-time entertainer ever since leaving the Royal Navy. He left a wife, son and daughter. This popular entertainer of children and adults was certainly a colorful and interesting figure in magic. He was some who added spice to his profession.

 

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Godfrey Roy – One Funny Guy

For thirty years from 1933 to 1963 the subject of this post worked for a watch company in Woodside, Massachusetts. Prior to that, however, he led a rather interesting magical life and so, it’s “time” to look into Godfrey Roy, who by all accounts, was a very funny magician.

 Roy was born in Maine two years before the turn of the last century on May 31, 1898. How he came to be interested in magic can only be speculated at, but eventually living in the greater Boston area he surely must have come into contact with magicians at places like Holden’s Magic Shop. 

Or, perhaps he received the customary magic set as a child. Regardless, by the 1920’s he was performing magic on the vaudeville circuit out of Waltham, a suburb of Boston and appearing throughout New England. The 1930 Census shows he was also working at the Bulova Watch Company as an inspector. He continued performing magic until 1933 when he left vaudeville to make his job at the Bulova plant.  That same Census shows 31-year-old Roy living with his wife Eva (29), brother Ray (27) and mother Lena (51).

Here is his scaling card which shows a snake charmer cartoon on the front with his name, a simple “Magician” descriptor, and his address at 24a Myrtle Street, Waltham. It informs the holder that Roy is available for clubs, banquets, lodges and church socials. The reverse is the Deland back copyrighted in 1912.


He was also a member of both the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians. He joined the I.B.M. in 1929 holding membership number 3310. He joined the S.A.M. ten years later.

References to him performing appear in Ring reports for Boston Ring 35, Quincy Boston Ring 43, and Boston Assembly 9. Most often he performed card tricks but done with a funny French accent. In fact, at one meeting he performed an effect entirely in French and although the “boys” couldn’t understand him, they still found his presentation hilarious. I wondered, why would he perform in French, or even faux French, but again, the 1930 Census held the answer. While Roy and his dad were born in Maine, his mother Lena was a French-speaking Canadian who immigrated to the U.S. in 1881.

By March of 1932, Roy had worked his way up through the ranks of Boston Ring 43 to become president. The scribe for the Ring was comedy writer and magician Frank Lane. His reports were filled with wisecracks and asides and inside jokes. One October 1929 report said, “Godfrey Roy got them all laughing with a trick with the blocks and the Queen of Hearts, nobody knew what it was all about because the patter was in French, although they liked the trick immensely.” Godfrey was even identified in a November 1930 Linking Ring as being one of the "live" members of Quincy Boston Ring 43. 

References in magic publications ceased in the late 1930s and nothing appears about him until his obituary in February 1978 Linking Ring. At the time, 79-year-old Roy was living at 3762 64th Street, Woodside, L.I. Survivors included his widow Eva, two sons; five grandchildren; and a brother. It noted his I.B.M. membership since 1929 and that he was a member of the Order of Merlin. 

Here is another example of a local Ring and Assembly member who tasted a bit of fame, enjoyed the company of his fellow magicians and promoted both organizations, but eventually devoted himself to earning a living for his family outside of magic.