Magician and Author. Perhaps the most innovative magician after Houdini, Harry Blackstone (born Harry Bouton) started doing magic at the age of eight after receiving a magic kit for a birthday present and seeing a performance by the great Harry Kellar. He began his career professionally in 1904, and following Houdini's death, Blackstone would become the most well-known magican in America in the 1930s. His shows mixed small-scale slight of hand and elaborate prop-based illusions, and he pioneered such now-classic routines as the "buzzsaw illusion", "dancing handkerchief", "floating lightbulb", and his unique "frames of paper" illusion where he would smash his hand through a framed sheet of paper and withdraw various objects, livestock, and even his wife seemingly out of nowhere. In the 1940s, Blackstone toured 165 military bases with the USO. In 1942, Blackstone performed perhaps the greatest illusion of all time at the Lincoln Theater in Decatur, IL. In mid-performance, he announced that the next trick was so elaborate that the audience would have to adjourn in an orderly manner to the street outside to witness it, and he ushered the patrons out row by row. Upon reaching the outside, the audience learned how great a trick had been played on them--Blackstone had learned that the theater was on fire, and his efficient evacuation had probably saved lives. Blackstone would retire from touring in the 1950s, but would continue to make television and other appearances for the rest of his life, including a memorable interview with Edward R. Murrow on "Person to Person" and a surprise feature on "This is Your Life."
Bio by: Stuthehistoryguy
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