October 10th, 2010
M is for Missing, and because I am Missing this great Meme I have returned, right in the Middle of the alphabet, to once again take up with ABC Wednesday!
And the M I have chosen for today is Mandrake the Magician.
This is not the serial Mandrake of cartoons and radio and film but our own home-grown Star of the World of Magic who was born Leon Giglio on April 11th, 1911 and raised in New Wesminster, British Columbia, although with his top hat, pencil fine moustache and scarlet-lined cape he bears a strong resemblance to the comic strip character. Most people would acknowledge this and take for granted that Leon Mandrake was the inspiration for the cartoon. Phil Davis, the cartoonist, did meet Leon Mandrake and they became good friends, corresponding for many years.
As a child Mandrake was enthralled with some of the great magicians of vaudeville, attending all the shows he could and doing odd jobs for them in return for lessons in magic. At the age of eleven he performed on the stage of the Edison Theatre in New Weminster as one of the vaudeville acts and at the age of fourteen he bcame the magician for the Moyer's Carnival for the Pacific National Exhibition, where he learned the art of fire-eating, mind reading and ventriloquism.
By the late 1930's Leon Mandrake had his own magic show and played to sold out performances in Los |Angeles and Las Vegas, billed as one of their biggest box office draws by the Music Corporation of America.
Leon was married to his first wife, Narda, fropm 1939 until 1946. In 1947 he met and married Velvet, and together 'they were the first team to take a full magic show and tailor it to a night club setting, where the performers were surrounded by their audience.' (Leon Memorial Web Page) http://www.angelfire.com/ca2/mandrake/mandrake.html.
An account of the impressive career Leon and Velvet enjoyed can be found at this Memorial Website, along with information asbout their family, and the enchanting business of Magic which has been passed on to them.
In 1967 Leon and Velvet did a lengthy tour in the Far East and on their return to Canada they began performing at University campuses in Canada and the USA. They performed their last magic show in 1985 for the Chocolate Festival in Victoria and were filmed by CBC's Fifth Estate. I wonder if that show is still available in their archives????? Leon Mandrake died in 1993.
It's lovely to be back and after posting this I will be off to visit other great posts here, at ABC Wednesday.