Showing posts with label Adele Friel Rhindress. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adele Friel Rhindress. Show all posts

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Other Blackstone Book Review

Back in 1999 Daniel Waldron wrote a book called Blackstone A Magician's Life. It was a fantastic biography of one of the true greats in our business. If you've never read it. find it and read it! You'll be glad you did. One of the great things about the book are the first hand accounts by George Johnstone and Nick Ruggiero, both who worked on the Blackstone Sr. Show.

In 2016, a new book was written by Daniel Waldron called The Other Blackstone. Though not as extensive as the first book, it's still an enjoyable recollection of the the other Blackstone. This book is about Alfred Peter Boughton, who was born March 1st 1887. He was the younger brother of Harry. Yes, the name was originally spelled Boughton.  The book has 6 chapters and a epilogue, plus a lot of photos. It's only 40 pages long, so it's a quick read, but it's a fun one. There are some great stories in the book, and as I mentioned, great photos to match.

And the great thing about the book is the co-author, Adele Friel Rhindress, who also worked on the Blackstone Show.  She has her own great book on her adventures with Blackstone called 'Memoirs of An Elusive Moth'. The recollections of her time with Pete really help the reader to see him as a living breathing human being, and give a rare glimpse behind the scenes of a famous touring show.

I remember the first time I saw a photo of Pete. I was confused as to what I was seeing. I thought it might be some double exposure photo that Harry had produced. But then I found out that Harry had a brother. According to Adele, it was Pete who really RAN the Blackstone Show. Harry was the star, but Pete handled everything backstage.

I purchased this book at the Yankee Gathering from David Haversat. I'll be honest, I don't know how many were produced. But I would check with him to see if there any left. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Blackstone's Elusive Moth Strikes Again!

This past weekend was The 2014 Yankee Gathering in New England. I missed it unfortunately. But thankfully two of my friends who did attend did something rather special. Those two friends are Rory Feldman and Adele Friel Rhindress. Rory is the owner of the Thurston Show...well pretty much. If Thurston were alive and wanted to find some of his show items, chances are Rory has them in his fantastic collection. Adele is a living treasure. She worked on the Blackstone Sr. Show from 1947-1950.

Rory had some silent footage of the Blackstone Show and he video taped Adele watching the footage. She gave a play by play analysis of what was going on and who was in the footage. The one unfortunate part is that it's only 14 minutes long. Once you see it you'll wish it was an hour or more. Adele's recollection of the events is amazing and I love how she describes the various illusions.

Thank You Rory and Adele for this incredible video!

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Kindness of Harry Blackstone Sr

While at the Magic History Conference in D.C. my friend Adele pointed out a jeweled pin she was wearing. I guess it's called a broach. It was quite stunning with it's many colorful stones and it was in the shape of a ballerina.

Well it turns out that Harry Blackstone Sr. gave this piece of jewelry to Adele on her 18th Birthday back in the 1940s. She wears it proudly today and it's so nice that she remembers the many adventures she had on the Blackstone show so many years ago. I frankly can't recall much of went on at my first job, let alone names and dates and places.

Adele Friel Rhindress is a remarkable person and a treasure in the world of magic history.

me, Trixie Bond and Adele

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Incredible Walnut Street Theatre

I love old theatres, and in America there is none older than The Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. It has been around for 204 years and thankfully is still in operation. The Walnut Street Theatre has some unique ties to the magic world which I thought I'd share with you, but first a little history on the theatre itself.

Built in 1809 in Philadelphia, The Walnut was the first theatre in America to have gas footlights, it was also the first theatre to have air conditioning. In 1863, the Walnut was purchased by famed actor Edwin Booth, who was also the brother of John Wilkes Booth.

A few famous names to grace the stage of the Walnut Street Theatre include: Henry Fonda, Ethel Barrymore, Jack Lemmon, Robert Redford, George M. Cohan, The Marx Brothers, Edward G. Robinson, Helen Hayes, Katherine Hepburn and many others.

But it's the magicians I'm most interested in. Since the theatre opened in 1809, it's hard to say who the first magician was to perform at the Walnut, but according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Herr Alexander played the Walnut in August of 1849. And I know that on July 4th 1853, Robert Heller opened at the Walnut Street Theatre for a three week run. Prior to his appearances at the Walnut, Heller had been performing with a fake French Accent and a wig. He dropped those accessories and the first place he performed as himself, was in Philadelphia! Oddly, on Nov 28th, 1878 (134 years ago today!) Heller would die of pneumonia in Philadelphia.

I thought Harry Kellar performed there, but I can't find a record. He did perform at the Walnut Street Theatre in Cincinnati Ohio however. And he played almost every theatre in Philadelphia, so I'd be surprised if he never made it to the Walnut St. Theatre.

I don't have any proof of it, but I'm going to guess that Signor Antonio Blitz might have performed there back in the mid 1800's, as he lived in Philadelphia for a time. And I'm thinking it's very possible the Alexander Herrmann may have also performed there which could be why I didn't see Harry Kellar's name listed because the two were competitors.

According to the website for the theatre, Harry Houdini performed at the Walnut, but I don't know when. A little digging shows Houdini at the Chestnut Street Theatre and also at Keith's Theatre in Philadelphia. Houdini had a number of ties to the city. On one visit he discovered the grave of Robert Heller, which had been lost to time. Heller was originally in Macepelah Cemetery in Phili and then later moved to Mt Moriah. At another time he introduced Remigius Weiss, a spiritualist debunker whose claim to fame had been exposing the slate writing of Dr. Henry Slade.

In October 1947, the Blackstone Show was at the Walnut Street Theatre and they were in need of a replacement girl. Word was sent out to some of the theatrical agencies in town and a young dancer named Adele Friel applied for the job. She met Blackstone backstage at the theatre and he gave her an idea of what was required for the position. She met the other girls in the show and just like that, she was hired! But that wasn't all. This was the afternoon, and there was a show in the evening and Adele had no idea she'd be IN the show that night!

Sure enough, she performed her first show with the Blackstone troupe that night and stayed with them for several years touring across the country in the process. One great blessing for the magic world is that Adele loves to visit with magicians and attend conventions on occasion. If you ever get a chance to meet her, please take the time to say hello and listen to some of her wonderful stories.

In the modern era, Penn & Teller have appeared at the Walnut Street Theatre as well. By the way, Teller, the quieter half of the duo, was actually born in Philadelphia!

To me the most exciting thing is that this old beauty of a theatre is still running and has continued to do so for over 200 years! The theatre is located at 825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
If you are aware of the number of theatres that have been razed, destroyed or closed down in the past 100 years, you'll realize just how special the Walnut Street Theatre is.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Elusive Moth BOOK

I was quite excited when the mailman delivered a package to me yesterday containing a brand new book. The title, Memoirs of an Elusive Moth by Adele Friel Rhindress. I've mentioned Adele before in my blogs, but in case you don't know she worked with Harry Blackstone Sr. for several seasons. This book is about her adventures from that time period.

First thing I want to say, is it ok to give a book a standing ovation? I loved this book!!! For one, though it is about the Blackstone show, you really get the see the show through Adele's eyes. She has a number of her own adventures that she shares as well. I got a kick out of the 20 hour sleeping story. Actually, I enjoyed all the stories! I also had the honor of hearing a number of these stories in person last summer when I was in Pigeon Forge and Adele and I went to lunch one day.

She describes in the book, a letter that Harry Blackstone Sr. sent her about the new season and how he wanted her to come back to play the part of 'The Elusive Moth', a new routine they were creating specifically for Adele.  I actually got to see the letter during our lunch last year. Also, Adele was a featured speaker during my 'Magic Detective' Session at KIDabra and she shared a couple stories about Harry Blackstone JR. that also appear in the book. But there are many things I had not heard before and she captures them so well. She talks about Del Ray and Nick Ruggerio as well as a number of her fellow female assistants in the show. Adele also shares stories about the non performing cast members and helps the reader to see how important each and every person is/was in the production of the stage spectacular known as Blackstone And His Show of 1001 Wonders!

Besides giving the reader a sense of what it was like traveling with the Blackstone show,  she also gives a glimpse into her own life as well, which I was really happy to read. The book is about HER and her experiences and I'm so glad that she included some none magic history in there as well.

If you love history, get this book. If you know Adele, you must get this book. But if you just want to just read a book that will make you smile, then without a doubt get a copy of this wonderful book, The Memoirs of an Elusive Moth!

To order:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Name changing to The Magic Detective

A few months ago a good friend of mine called me with an idea. He asked if I would consider doing a talk on the history of magic for his annual convention. Most people who know me know I'm a huge magic history buff, fantastic, whatever. It was his suggestion to call me The Magic Detective. So at the 2010 Kid-Abra Conference, during a late evening, I hosted an event on Magic History. There were several speakers besides myself. These included Jim Kleefeld, Terry Evanswood and the adorable Adele Friel Rhindress. Jim is a full time performer with a strong interest in the history of magic. Terry is the second most famous person in Pigeon Forge TN and is a huge collector! Adele was a former assistant to Harry Blackstone Sr. and she is simply a treasure.

They all spoke on various topics. Jim and Terry showed pieces from their collections. I actually opened with a short powerpoint presentation of previous 'Magic Detectives' as well as some cool historical locations I've found that were related to magic. I also brought some handcuffs and a few other things.
Adele charmed the crowd with her recollections of a young Harry Blackstone Jr.

It was so much fun. People came up afterwards to check out the various items and to chat with us further.  Because of that and because this blog has taken a turn towards history, I'm changing the name of blog to Carnegie: Magic Detective. It fits a bit better and frankly I really enjoy hunting down these pieces of history. Honestly, any of us involved in the history of magic, whether research or collecting are 'magic detectives'!