Posts Tagged ‘magician’


Ellis Stanyon demonstrates his paper-folding feat

May 26, 2014

Ellis Stanyon (1870-1951), English magician, dealer in magic materials and toys, and publisher
(photos: Hellis & Sons, Regent Street, London, probably 1895)

‘The above photos. show Mr. Ellis Stanyon at work in his paper-folding feat. Mr. Stanyon is a clever conjurer and shadowist, and a feature of his entertainment is to fold the same piece of paper forty different ways in five minutes.’ ‘FLOWER VASE. EASTERN WATER-POT. THE SHAHZADA. A BEEF-EATER.’
(The Picture Magazine, London, November 1895, p. 294)

* * * * *

William Ellis Stanyon, professionally known as Professor Ellis Stanyon, was born in the village of Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire, England, on 8 January 1870, one of the children of William John Stanyon, a wood turner/sawyer. He was married on 5 November 1893 at Trinity Church, Marylebone, London, to Catherine (Kate) Fairs, daughter of John Fairs, a boot maker. They had five children, of whom Cyril Gordon Stanyon (1903-1976) took over the magic business upon his father’s death in 1951.


Arthur St. Vincent and Eugenie Montebello, British and Australian music hall entertainers

May 15, 2014

Arthur St. Vincent (active 1869-1887), English music hall singer/songwriter, manager and general entertainer, and his wife, Mdlle. Eugenie Montebello (active 1868-1876), Italian-born British music hall artist, sometimes described as ‘the dashing serio-comic and dancer,’ male impersonator, magician/illusionist and entertainer
(carte de visite photos: Clayson & Cuthbert, 13 ½ South Parade, Nottingham, and Tulley, 26 Division Street, Sheffield, both circa 1870)

Arthur St. Vincent and Mdlle. Montebello appear to have been in their early 20s when they began their separate stage careers. They soon joined forces, however, and in 1873 they set sail for Australia. Settling for a while in the new gold-mining town of Charters Towers, where they are said to have been connected with the Sportsman’s Arms Hotel and its theatre, they were subsequently seen in company on tour with various other entertainers throughout parts of Australia and New Zealand. It was on 27 October 1874 at the Crown Hotel, Dunedin that a son was born to the couple (Otago Witness, Dunedin, New Zealand, Wednesday, 28 October 1874, p. 4b).

Early in 1882 Arthur St. Vincent returned to England but disaster struck his and his party’s return journey to Australia when they were involved in a steamship wreck, which deprived them of their savings and wardrobes. St. Vincent managed to return to his wife in Australia, where a benefit was held for him in June 1884. Later references to Mr and Mrs St Vincent are in Australian sources but they cease in 1887.

* * * * *

‘Success! The Great Arthur St. Vincent. Success!
ARTHUR ST. VINCENT, acknowledged to be the most original and successful Comic that has visited HALIFAX [Yorkshire] (ODD FELLOWS’ MUSIC HALL). Thunders of applause nightly. Pullan’s, Bradford; Fleur-de-Lis, Sheffield; Victoria, Hartlepool; Wear, Sunderland, to follow. Address, HARRY FOX, Middlesex Music Hall, London, W.C.
N.B. Songs and Duets written on moderate terms (Ladies’ versions).’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 23 May 1869, p. 16b)

Metropolitan music hall, Edgware Road, London, week beginning Monday, 23 October 1871
‘… Mdlle. [Eugenie] Montebello and Mr. Arthur St. Vincent, who are comic duettists with voices above the average for musicalness, have newly appeared here, and are well received. They represent a belle and beau, who sing of ”London Society” being more to their taste than that of Baden-Baden, &c. Dressed nearly alike as fops, with peculiar hats and profuse whiskers, they carol a lively strain, the refrain of which is ”Hurrah for the Gaslight School.” The manlike appearance and swagger of the lady cause much laughter. Again they come forward and exhibit cards bearing good representations of the Rose, the Thistle, the Shamrock, and other emblems of nations, and accompany the display of the pictures with appropriate melodies. When we saw them they were so earnestly called that they appeared a fourth time and sang ”A song of songs,” which consisted of snatches of a very large number of popular ditties well woven together and cleverly sung… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 29 October 1871, p. 12a)

‘DPARTURE OF PROFESSIONALS FOR AUSTRALIA. – On Thursday the following members of the Music Hall Profession sailed from Southampton for Australia, viz.:- The De Castro troupe, Valentine Vose, Arthur St. Vincent, Mdlle. Montebello, Airee, Nellie Forrester, Harry Sefton, and Jessie Danvers. Through Messrs Durden and Wills, who witnessed their departure, they send kind regards to their brother and sister professionals.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 31 August 1873, p. 4d)

MR. AND MRS. ARTHUR ST. VINCENT, From all the London Theatres, and late Principal Vocalists of Smith’s English and Continental Combination, beg most respectfully to announce Three Performances as above.
The Company at present consists of the following first-class Artists:-
MR. ARTHUR ST. VINCENT, acknowledged by public and press to be the greatest Local Comic and Characteristic Vocalist, who has visited the Colonies, in all new Songs, written and composed by himself.
MDLLE. EUGENIE MONTEBELLO, pronounced by the London and Provincial Press to be the greatest Lady Impersonator of Male Character in the world.
MR. FRANK VERTEN, (late of the Australian Bell Ringers), Negro Comedian and Dancer, in his beautiful American Songs and Dances.
MR. LESLIE CHARLES, (late of the Canadian Concerts), Baritone and National Vocalist.
HERR JULIUS, Solo Pianist and Musical Director.
MR AND MRS A. ST. VINCENT In their highly amusing Drawing Room Sketches of ”Life and Character.”
Vide Press – ”The most amusing couple we have seen for many a long day.” – Cromwell Argus, December 24, 1875.
An entire Change of Programme each evening
Books of Words may be had at the Hall.
Doors open at 7.30; commence at 8.
SOLE MANAGER – MR. A. ST. VINCENT. SOLE AGENT – ALFRED WRIGHT.’ (The Nelson Evening Mail, Nelson, New Zealand, Wednesday, 2 June 1875, p. 2g)

‘MR. ARTHUR ST. VINCENT has arrived [in London], and will remain in England for Two Months. He will be pleased to hear from old friends; also from Persons having Novelties in any line of Business, Illusions of all kinds, Duets, Dialogues, Comic Songs. Can arrange with Artistes to visit the Colonies either on terms share or otherwise. Address, ARTHUR ST. VINCENT, 32, Fitzroy-street, Fitzroy-square, London, W.C.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 27 May 1882, p. 23c)

of Six Star Artistes
are now on Tour through England.
Managers and Proprietors please send vacant dates for Halls.
N.B. – ”The Hindoo Marvel.”
Australia again in August.
Permanent address, 32, Fitzroy-street, Frizroy-square, London, N.W.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 10 June 1882, p. 21a)


Walford Bodie

May 4, 2013

Walford Bodie (1870-1939), Scottish variety theatre showman
(photo: unknown, circa 1905)
‘(From Our Special Correspondent.)
‘London, November 5, 1909.
‘One of the most amusing civil actions heard in the Law Courts in recent years was that brought by a young man names Irvine against ”Dr.” Walford Bodie, a gentleman who has been posing before the public for years as a marvellous healer of paralytics and unfortunates suffering from all kinds of physical and metal afflictions. ”Dr.” Bodie, who calls himself a ”blodless surgeon and medical electrician,” claims also mesmeric and hypnotic powers of the most wonderful order. Irvine, an impressionable youth, longed to emulate Bodie’s feats, and in return for £1,000 in hard cash, Bodie guaranteed to teach Irvine all the medical, surgical, and other wonders that he himself could perform – inter alia: –
‘To enter the ”cage of death” and come out unscathed.
‘To stand in the ”magic circle,” and, while those around were doubled up in agony, to stand calm and smiling.
‘By the force of will to prevent a man who sat in the fatal electrocution chair from being shrivelled up.
‘To make paralytics walk.
”’The Magic Circle.”
‘Dr. Bodie took the young man on tour with him, giving him a couple of pounds a week and a promise that in three years’ time he would be a fully qualified doctor – a la Bodie presumably. But Irvine speedily came to the conclusion that whatever Bodie’s accomplishments in the medical line, he was primarily merely a trickster, that his ”curers” were fakes, and his patient mainly paid accomplices; in short, that Bodie was nothing but a fraud. So he asked for his £1,000 back, and failing to get it sued Bodie in the usual way.
‘In court Irvine, with the assistance of witnesses, ”gave away” Bodie’s show in a manner most complete. Starting with the ”magic circle,” Irvine described how members of the audience went on the stage and stood holding hands with one another and Dr. Bodie. An electric current was announced to be passed through the magic circle. The witness himself appeared to turn the switches.
‘All the others tumbled about with the stock, but Dr. Bodie stood calm and smiling, like Ajax defying the lightning.
‘The chief point of the trick was that the ”members of the audience” who went up were a little company that travelled about with Bodie from town to town, and were paid by him. If any real members of the public went they were ”discouraged,” but if they persisted they got all the ”shock” they wanted, not from an electric current, because no current was used, but from the elbows, knees, and feet of Bodie’s assistants. The next item of the Bodie programme was
‘The Cage of Death.
‘Before going into it Bodie announced that he was about to undertake the most daring experiment ever attempted by any living electrician. The current was such that it would kill anybody except him. He touched the metal with iron rods and sparks flew. Fireworks were sometimes used to enhance the fiery effect. A reward was offered to anybody who would ”duplicate the experiment” and enter the cage. But anyone venturesome enough to offer to do so had first to insure himself for the benefit of his widow and children. Irvine tried the cage himself, and beyond experiencing a mild, tingling sensation, was not a penny the worse for his daring. The reason was simple. The ”cage of death” was merely a contrivance in common use in hospitals for electrical treatment, the only danger Dr. Bodie incurred was that he might possibly get a spark from a firework in his eye.
‘Bloodless Surgery.
‘Concerning Dr. Bodie’s alleged ”cures,” several witnesses gave evidence, all with a view to showing that they not only received no benefit from his treatment, but were for stage purposes, made to appear much worse than they were. The ”doctor,” it seems, was careful to interview all would-be patients before he allowed them to appear on the stage to be ”cured.” Only those who were incapable of doing this were sent home with a bottle of liniment.
‘All these witnesses declared that they had received no benefit whatever from Bodie’s treatment, which in one or two cases caused the patients exquisite pain.
‘Very amusing were some of the witnesses called to prove that Dr. Bodie’s hypnotic powers were mainly ”fakes.” Once, at Aberdeen, one of his paid assistants dressed up as a midshipman, and challenged the ”doctor” to mesmerise him. Of course the doctor succeeded after an apparently tremendous tussle of wills. But meanwhile some sailors in the audience had begun to ask pertinent questions about the pseudo-midshipman’s arm badges. The assistant had made a bad blunder, for he had decorated his uniform with badges which would really have taken him between 20 and 30 years to earn!
”’Showman’s Privilege.”
‘On Dr. Bodie’s behalf several witnesses were called to prove that he had cured them of deformities and paralysis, but the court had only their word for it that they ever really suffered from the ills of which they alleged Bodie cured them. One of these witnesses declared that Bodie had cured her of ”spontaneous dislocation of the hips and compound infantile paralysis of the foot.” When the ”doctor” went into the box he made some startling admissions. He calmly admitted that he possessed no recognised medical qualifications, and that the letters he had tacked on to his name represented worthless degrees conferred on him by American institutions trafficking in such things.
‘He further admitted that most of the statements he made regarding his medical education and his travels in lands in a work he published under the title The Bodie Book, were flagrant fiction. He justified these tales on the ground of ”showman’s privilege.” As a matter of fact, Bodie, on his own confession, has never been out of the old country. Reading his book in the light of his own admissions one can only regret that ”Dr.” Bodie did not invade the literary field so profitably exploited by Rider Haggard. Whatever his faults and failings ”Dr.” Bodie is certainly the possessor of what Andrew Lang termed ”a mighty imagination.”
‘The jury gave Mr. Irvine the £1,000 he claimed.’
(The Advertiser, Adelaide, South Australia, Tuesday, 7 December 1909, p. 11h)


February 2, 2013

an advertisement for The Zancigs
featuring a photograph of Julius Zancig (1857-1929), Danish magician and thought-reader
(photo: unknown, probably London, 1908; this advertisement
appeared during 1911/12 in various London theatre programmes)