Thursday, June 1, 2017

Harry Haywood, Automotive Pioneer

"Can I make it any plainer?  Be original." Harry Haywood, M-U-M, 1916.  

Meet Harry Haywood, sometimes known, as reflected on his fine throwout card, as the "American Magician," also known as Hiram Haywood, William H. Haywood, The Illustrious Jarrell, William H. Jarrell, Harry H. Jarrell and, possibly, an exposer called Jarrell the Strong Boy.

Haywood was probably born William Jarrell, and became a well-known magician and ventriloquist, beginning his career in the 1890s.  He began his career performing in circuses, wagon shows and vaudeville theaters.   Reports suggest he had "sufficient mechanical genius" to build all of his own magic apparatus.  Haywood's skill with Cups and Balls was legendary.   Louis "Pops" Krieger, an undisputed Cups and Balls master, admired Haywood's talent, while Dr. Wilson called him "peer of all Cup and Ball performers."   Curiously, in or around 1900, Haywood had a son whom he named "Harry Kellar Haywood."

After the turn ot the century, Haywood settled in New York City.  He became a member of the Society of American Magicians shortly after its founding, eventually serving on its committee on admissions for many years.   An amateur astronomer, Haywood always travelled with a 3-inch Bordeaux telescope.

Haywood's claim to fame began in early 1919, when he loaded his magic act, usually carried by wagon, into an automobile for a two-year, cross-country tour.  According to Oscar Teale, Haywood's was the first magic show to tour by automobile.  Haywood drove a Ford adorned with the emblem of the SAM on both doors.

Though nearly a decade after Houdini flew an airplane in Australia, the magic trade press treated Haywood's motor vehicle magic tour as an adventure equal to the Lewis and Clark expedition. His own account of these experiences were featured in a dramatic M-U-M cover story tantalizingly entitled "Hell Gate to Golden Gate."


In the piece, Haywood details his experiences, which included several automobile accidents (including a crash with a street car that cost him $87 in repairs) and getting stranded in the desert.  He described performances in low-rent venues before brawling crowds.   Haywood describes being surrounded by a group of "gypsies . . . on a lone mountain road in Wyoming."  Brandishing a Winchester rifle, the magician faced down the group, while his wife Adeline  "stayed in the car with a Colt .38 automatic in her hand, ready to get .the first one that came too close to me."  The intervention of two highway patrolmen averted the couple's decision "to meet our defeat Davy Crockett style."

In the end, despite the hardships, the magician raved about the wonders of a tour which extended  "from the battlefields of Gettysburg to the Pikes Peak region; Salt Lake, the Temple, the big cities of the East, and over the beautiful Allegheny Mountains, through the many towns of the Mississippi Valley; across the plains, with its long,straight roads that reach the sky; the prairie dog villages; the mighty Rockies, with its range after range of towering, snow-capped peaks, the wild deer; the lone sheep herder; the desert, with its deathlike stillness; the sand, sage brush, coyotes, and wild horses, and the high Sierra Mountains,, the land of the sky and the camper's paradise; the Sacramento Valley, with its fruits and flowers—into old 'Frisco, with my car in good shape and still ahead of the game."  

The end of Haywood's story is a bit of a mystery, though it may involve yet another name change.  
In 1923, John Mulholland published a list of compeers he was trying to locate: Haywood was prominently featured on a list of SAM members, some of whom were presumed dead.   It is his last appearance in the trade press in the U.S.  However, that same year, the Magic Circular makes mention of an "H.W.F. Haywood, M.M.C." changing his name to "Hazel-Le-Roy," and references to that performer continue through 1928.    And there the trail goes cold....

From M-U-M, December 1918

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