Saturday, December 17, 2016

Dante the Magician

Harry August Jansen (1883 - 1955) and his family came to the United States and settled in Chicago. Jansen made his stage debut at the age of sixteen. Years later, he toured the world as "The Great Jansen – America’s Greatest Transformist". From 1908 to 1911, Jansen and his partner I. F. Halton built magic props under the name Halton and Jansen Company. In 1922, Jansen began working for magician Howard Thurston in the capacity of shop foreman and master prop builder. Once the show was built, Jansen’s options were coming to a close.

Thurston proposed an opportunity for Jansen to star in a second touring show. With only a verbal contact, Dante the Magician, Inc. was created with Thurston as co-owner. Jansen built the illusions and toured under the name Dante the Magician. 
This is one of the imps that hung in the Dante bar. it was made by Arturo Montes.
In May of 1927, he left the United States and eventually traveled the world featuring spectacular illusions, comedy, and fun for the entire family. In 1940, he performed at the Morosco Theatre in New York in his revue show titled, "Sim Sala Bim". Those three words became his trademark throughout his performances. In 1942, he joined the comedy team of Laurel and Hardy as co-star in the film "A-Haunting We Will Go".
By 1948, there was an estimated one million homes that had a television set. The audiences that once filled theaters were staying home.  The "Golden Age of Magic" had come to a close. He retired in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California at his ranch known as "Rancho Dante". Seen on this post are two different cards Dante used during his career.

Just for the fun of it, here is what Dante's stage looks like today at "Rancho Dante" in Northridge, California.

Here is the pool at "Rancho Dante" today in Northridge, California.

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