May 12, 2011

Harry Kellar Story from my book

Harry Kellar (July 11, 1849 – March 3, 1922) was an American magician who presented large stage shows during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Kellar was the predecessor of Harry Houdini and the successor of Robert Heller. 


Here's a great story from my book about this great magician.

Harry Kellar was an American magician who worked in theaters and on stages all over the world during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Kellar came to fame before Houdini, and in a way, paved the way for Houdini to become a household name.


One of his most famous effects was his Nested Boxes. Kellar would borrow six finger rings from various members of the audience. He would then load them into the barrel of a pistol, which he would aim and fire at a box hanging from the ceiling of the stage. Inside this box was another, smaller box, and so on, until you had six boxes that each fit inside the previous one. When the smallest box was opened, five rings were found tied to a ribbon with flowers. But where was the sixth ring?
On January 17, 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt took his daughter, Ethel, and his three sons, Archie, Kermit, and Quentin to the Lafayette Theater to see Kellar’s show. Kellar performed his signature piece and borrowed six finger rings. Ethel was the owner of the sixth ring. When Kellar finished the first sequence, he revealed five finger rings tied to a ribbon and rosebuds inside the smallest nested box.
He returned the five rings, but not Ethel’s. Immediately, Ethel shouted in a voice that was heard over half the theater, “Papa, I didn’t get my ring back. Tell the man I want my ring!” 
Kellar then brought a bottle down into the audience and offered the spectators a drink. He magically poured water, wine, and whiskey all from the bottle. Then, with a hammer, he cracked open the bottle and out popped a little white guinea pig. Tied to the guinea pig’s neck, on a blue ribbon, was Ethel’s ring. 
“Would you like to keep the animal as a pet?” he asked Ethel. Smiling, she agreed. 
Kellar wrapped the guinea pig in paper, and handed him to Ethel. When she opened the paper, the guinea pig had changed into a bouquet of pink roses. The President and Mrs. Roosevelt laughed, but the boys were not happy. “Shucks, we wanted the guinea pig,” said Kermit.