Monday, May 7, 2018

The Famous Man With the Spirit Hand -- Zera Semon -- May 7, 2018

Society of American Magicians Monthly, January, 1918
Magician, ventriloquist and puppeteer Zera Semon, father of silent movie comedian Larry Semon, toured the country for many years. His shows often included gift giveaways. "The Story of the Gift Shows" by Kit Clarke appeared in the January, 1901 issue of the Society of American Magicians Monthly. Clarke managed many magicians, including Professor Zera. I think it was interesting that Clarke says that "his magic was entirely mechanical." Some people thought his son's humor was mechanical. I think this is the first time I have heard that Zera was handicapped.  And it was interesting that Zera's wife ran the show and used foul language.  

Prof. Zera, right name Semon, and a native of Charlottsville, Va., was one of the well known and successful gift show entertainers of his time, his magic being entirely mechanical, while ventriloquism was first class. He always closed his show with a performance of marionettes, which were remarkably fine, and he always won the sympathy of the audience because of his being a cripple—one leg being shorter than the other.

I thought he was under my management but soon found that I was under his wife's management. She was an attractive woman and ruled the roost a great vigor, and the way in which she bossed the outfit was a dream in generalship.

And say, that girl could cuss and swear to make your soul rejoice. I have never heard her equal among the male sex in constant and competent cussing.

The last I heard of Zera he was located in Halifax, engaged in the fish industry.

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