Salute to Harry Blackstone

Salute to Harry Blackstone Sr.

Harry Bouton (Blackstone) 1885-1965

 

From “The Express” newspaper, November 17, 1965: “He put Colon on the map, and now he’s gone. This wouldn’t be the Magic Capital of the World; possibly it wouldn’t even be a town anymore, if Harry Blackstone hadn’t “discovered” it in 1925.

He was one of the greatest magicians of all times, and he was looking for a place, away from but accessible to the cities, where his troupe could work and he could be at home. In ’26 he bought what has since always been known as Blackstone island, all 200 acres of it. He built his home here and quartered his troupe, between 25 and 30 people here. He was a performing magician for 64 years, and a headliner for over half a century.

Harry Blackstone was called the Ziegfield of Magic. In 1914 he began giving full evening shows, completely renovating the pace of the times with fast action, lots of color and many beautiful girls. His was the last of the really big shows.

Among his most famous illusions were the “Vanishing Horse” and the “Flying Bird Cage”

Harry Blackstone was born in Chicago on September 27, 1885. His legal name was Harry Bouton. He took the name of Blackstone for stage purposes. Blackstone was the name of one of his grandparents. He leaves a brother in Colon, Pete Bouton, who worked as his right hand man backstage, a son, Harry Jr., who has been doing a show in Florida, other relatives and friends all around the world, and the proud village of Colon.

He died peacefully a 10 p.m. California time, Tuesday night in his Hollywood home.”

“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.