Thursday, August 31, 2017

Earl Lockman – “Locks Don’t Lock Lockman”

Earl Albert Lockman was born on June 12, 1893 in Chicago, Illinois. He got a taste of the entertainment world at an early age. His father was employed to pull Buffalo Bill’s Circus
Train at one time. And Earl mentioned in his later years, his father introduced Buffalo Bill Cody after watching a performance. Earl was given the grand tour of the circus, the animals, and a number of the acts. 

This is the image used for Earl's advertisement.
This is Earl's original full color conception of the Egyptian Mummy Case.

Earl went to Crane Technical High School in Chicago and he studied architectural engineering at Crane Junior College. He studied and performed the violin for a number of years with the Edison Symphony Orchestra. It was during his work with the orchestra where he met and eventually married Pearl Fisher in 1924. Pearl not only assisted Earl, but also had a feature part in the show. Pearl would create wonderful colorful pictures and scenery with pieces of felt. Earl was a member of the Essanay Film Company in Chicago. The film company was known for their short silent films with stars like Ben Turpin, Wallace Beery, Francis X. Bushman, Gloria Swanson, and Charlie Chapman.

This was one of the many effects Earl Lockman created.

Earl was a member of the Society of American Magicians. He was a friend to a number of magicians of the day like Harry Houdini, Howard Thurston, Joe Berg, and Theo Bamberg. In the 1920’s you could page through a number of magic magazines and find advertisements for Earl’s varied magic effects. He also invented a number of stage effects like “The Chinese Pagoda”, “The Hindoo Torture Chest”, “The Expanding Hat Box”, and the “Egyptian Mystery”.

These are only two of a few photos of Lockman's "Expanding Hat Box" illusion.

His program would run from twenty minutes to two hours and it would include audience participation, escapes, and more. Earl advertised “Big Show – Big Fee or Little Show – Little Fee…Thrills The Same!” Along with his magic collection of props, Earl was said to have had one of the largest collections of assorted sets of handcuffs, locks, and other restraints. For almost fifty years, chiefs of police, peace officers, and laymen tried to lock up Lockman, but it just couldn’t be done.

They tried, but no one could lock Lockman!

The Lockman’s moved to California and became residents in Alhambra, California. In the early 1950’s, magician George Boston contacted Earl for some help in a movie where they needed authentic handcuffs, escapes, routines, and more. Earl happily obliged. The movie was completed and opened in 1953. It starred Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh and the movie was titled, “Houdini”. Also in 1953, Earl achieved a personal goal and performed on the Art Baker hit television show “You Asked For It”. He was such a success, he was asked to return for an encore performance on a later date. Earl continued to perform at local clubs, theaters, and even on the stages of Las Vegas.

“The Chinese Pagoda”

In his later life, Earl and Pearl settled down at his home in Alhambra and enjoyed watching their children and their grandchildren grow up. Earl kept his ‘fingers in the fire’ with magic by attending the local magic clubs and gatherings. He also took up postcard and stamp collecting and coin collecting. Earl passed away on April 18, 1967 at the age of seventy-three. Today, his methods and illusions continue to be used and improved upon. If you ever met Earl Lockman, you would have had a friend for life.

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