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Great Variety Acts

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Collection of Great Variety Acts & Artists

As magicians, we are by definition variety artists. Ring 21 primarily embraces the Art of Magic, but we recognize great performances from other entertainers in our genre.  This page features several great performances from other variety artists that have gained well deserved attention and merit. 

Enjoy them and share them with family and friends.


Fred Kaps, Magician
Brilliant Sleight of Hand Artist, 1961

Fred Kaps (official name Abraham Pieter Adrianus Bongers), (June 8, 1926 – July 22, 1980) was a Dutch magician, famous for being the only magician to become FISM Grand Prix world champion three times.  He was the creator of numerous original effects including his version of the colour-changing silks. Another popular effect he often performed was the salt shaker, in which act he poured a little salt on his empty hand, made the hand into a fist, then poured an "endless" supply of salt from his fist onto the floor, and as part of his act he would exhibit facial expressions of great surprise and disbelief, as he would, seemingly unsuccessfully, try to desperately stop the flow.

He appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, and was the guy who had the unenviable job of following the Beatles when they made their debut appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show airing February 9, 1964. Some 73 million viewers tuned in to watch Fred Kaps' card and salt-shakers trick and the Beatles. 

Fred Kaps performed for the royal families of both the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

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Harry Blackstone, Sr., Magician
Last of the Great Stage Magicians

Harry Blackstone (September 27, 1885 - November 16, 1965) was a famed magician. Blackstone was born Harry Boughton, of Jewish parents and was raised in Chicago, Illinois. He began his career as a magician in his teens and was popular through World War II as a USO entertainer. He was often billed as The Great Blackstone.

Blackstone was in the mode of courtly elegant predecessor magicians like Howard Thurston and Harry Kellar. He often wore white tie and tails when performing, and he traveled with large illusions and a sizable cast of uniformed male and female assistants. For a number of years he toured in the Midwest, often performing throughout the day between film showings.

Blackstone remained silent during much of his big stage show, which was presented to the accompaniment of a pit orchestra and such lively tunes of the time as "Who," "I Know That You Know," and "Chinatown."

Among his lovelier effects was "The Garden of Flowers," in which countless bouquets of brilliant feather flowers appeared from under a foulard and on tables and stands until the stage was a riot of color. "The Floating Light Bulb," was perhaps his signature piece. In a darkened theatre, Blackstone would take a lighted bulb from a lamp and float it, still glowing, through a small hoop. He would then come down from the stage and the lamp would float out over the heads of the audience.

In 1985, on the 100th anniversary of his father's birth, Harry Blackstone, Jr. donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. the original floating light bulb - Thomas Edison designed and built it - and the original Casadega Cabinet, used in the "Dancing Handkerchief" illusion. This was the first ever donation accepted by the Smithsonian in the field of magic.


Roy Benson, Magician
Brilliant Comedy Magician, 1955

Roy Benson was a legendary performer: a brilliant magician whose ingenious techniques baffled his peers, a superb manipulator, and a daring comedy magician considered far ahead of his time.

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Al Flosso, Magician and Entertainer
The Coney Island Fakir

Al Flosso grew to be a legend in Magic. Of The Coney Island Fakir World famous entertainer Joseph Dunninger said, "If there is a better all round magician I have yet to discover him!" Although only 5' 2" tall Flosso became a giant to his audiences as he honed his act in the tough carnival world of Coney Island.

Flosso was also a master Punch and Judy worker and can be seen in the movie 'A Night at The Opera' starring the Marx Brothers. Al was at home on any stage however big or small and in 1973 became Magician of the Year after an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. At his funeral Dr. Arnold Boston said, "From ten performances a day on the platforms of Luna Park and Dreamland to numerous appearances on national television, he never gave a bad show.

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Jerome Murat, Mime & Magician
Brilliant Act

There are several "tricks" in Jerome Murat's incredible and beautiful piece.

At the beginning, his right hand is inside the second head and there is a fake arm/hand attached to the staff he seems to be holding. At the point when he begins shoving the head out of his way (to see more clearly) he cleverly removes his hand from the second head, removes the fake hand from the staff, and takes the staff with his real hand. He releases the staff very soon thereafter and it appears as if he has been holding the staff the entire time. (At this point he is manipulating the second head from the outside, with both hands.) When he opens the lid to the box he slyly attaches a pole to the head, which he uses to show the head trying to fly away; it extends how far he can push the head away.

Next, when he brings the head close again, he removes the pole and attaches invisible string/wire from the ceiling to the head, wires controlled by someone in the rafters. Then the lightning strikes and the lights go out, and he begins to "remove" his own head. At the same he pulls the headpiece from his own head he pulls a black stocking over his head/face and it appears that he has removed his own head (since the stocking is the only thing not glowing in the black light). The person in the rafters floats the second head (which is also a mask) over to him and he pulls it over his stocking-covered head, so it seems as if the second head has replaced his original head. 

It's an absolutely brilliant work of art, a combination of mime, magic, and poetic art and symbolism. The beauty of the piece is not diminished at all by knowing how he acheived it.

Bravo, Jerome Murat, Bravo!

From: Yahoo Anwers

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Foster Brooks, Comedian
Sammy Davis, Jr. Roast, Las Vegas

Foster Brooks (May 11, 1912 – December 20, 2001) was an American actor and comedian most famous for his portrayal of a lovable drunken man in nightclub performances and television programs.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, he was one of eight sons. His career started in radio as a staff announcer, but his deep baritone voice was well-suited for singing as well.  In 1952, Brooks appeared on local television in a short-lived spoof of Gene Autry and his "Singing Cowboys."  He later worked in local broadcasting as a radio and TV personality in Buffalo and Rochester, NY before moving to the West Coast to launch a career as a standup comic and character actor.

On the syndicated Steve Allen show of the 1960s, Allen introduced Brooks as an important movie producer.  Brooks stumbled on stage doing his drunk act, fooling some of the other guests.

Singer Perry Como discovered Brooks in 1969, giving the comedian his major break. Como chose Brooks to open for him, and when a manager balked at the newcomer, Como refused to perform. The manager acquiesced, and Brooks was an instant hit.

Brooks regularly appeared on The Dean Martin Show television program in the 1970s, as well as many sit-coms and talk shows. Although he had only one basic signature character, he exhibited such extraordinary timing and subtlety that he was instantly recognized as one of the great comic performers of the time.

As his "Lovable Lush" character, Brooks drew upon his own battles with alcohol for his act, but during his period of greatest fame, Brooks rarely drank.  Of giving up drinking to win a bet in 1964, Brooks said, "Fellow made me a $10 bet I couldn't quit, and I haven't had a drink since. At the time I needed the $10."

In character, Brooks asked Dean Martin to join his group “Alcoholics Unanimous,” a play on Alcoholics Anonymous.  He boasted he and Martin were charter members of the DUI Hall of Fame.

Public sensibilities had changed regarding alcoholics and public drunkenness by the 1980s, so Brooks moved away from his drunk character.  Brooks died on December 20, 2001 at his home in Encino, California.  He was 89, and was suffering from heart trouble.

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Tom Mullica, Comedy Magician
Cigarette Act, FISM

One of the GREATEST variety acts of our time, Tom Mullica has performed all over the world and continues to confuse and amuse audiences wherever he goes.

Acclaimed as one of the world's greatest comedy magicians, Tom Mullica is a one-of-a-kind act that has not, or can not, be duplicated!

Here is his FISM award-winning comedy cigarette act.

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Jeff Dunham, Ventriloquist
Washington D.C.

It is the rare entertainer that can take up a serious subject like suicide bombers, death, and terrorism and deliver it with such humor and grace.

Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham is nothing less than simply genius. 

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Raymond Crowe, Shadow Artist
The Royal Variety Performance

Billed as "Australia’s only Unusualist", Raymond Crowe's Famous Hand Shadows Act has inspired countless audiences.

This is a relatively short act, but it is so exquisitely executed through innumerable performances that it has been refined to sheer brilliance in action.  Just watch!

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Paul Potts, Opera Singer
Britain's Got Talent, First Audition

Cell phone salesman Paul Potts sings opera on his first audition on Britain's Got Talent to the amazement and thrill of everyone present. 

Paul later went on to win the competion and international fame.

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Nicholas Brothers, Dancers
Orchestra Wives, 1942

I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo is a song that sometimes come out a bit flat when heard on a recording, but that is not the case here in this scene from the 1942 movie Orchestra Wives.

The film featured Glenn Miller's band in the background with the real focus being singers Tex Beneke and Marion Hutton and the vocal group The ModernairesThis version also features the fabulous tap dancing Nicholas Brothers.   

The Nicholas Brothers were a famous African-American team of dancing brothers, Fayard (1914–2006) and Harold Nicholas (1921–2000).  With their highly acrobatic technique ("flash dancing"), high level of artistry and daring innovations, they were considered by many the greatest tap dancers of their day.  Growing up surrounded by Vaudeville acts as children, they became stars of the jazz circuit during the heyday of the Harlem Renaissance and went on to have successful careers performing on stage, film, and television well into the 1990's.

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