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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magicians of old » » More info on Black Herman? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Dr Magic
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Sparks, NV
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I'm interested to learn more about Black Herman.

Anyone have more links.. books for sale.. etc?

Thanks!

Dr Magic
Kevin Connolly
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All I know is that his pitchbook went through at least 5 printings, maybe more. You can usually pick them up on Ebay for $20 or less.
Please visit my website.
www.houdinihimself.com

Always looking buy or trade for original Houdini, Hardeen and escape artist items. I'm interested in books, pitchbooks and ephemera. Email [email]hhoudini@optonline.net[/email]
Dr Magic
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Sparks, NV
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Thanks for that.


Dr Magic
Kevin Connolly
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I just found one of his pitchbooks. If you want it, it's $10.00. It doesn't have the paper cover, but has over 120 pages of photos and stories.
Please visit my website.
www.houdinihimself.com

Always looking buy or trade for original Houdini, Hardeen and escape artist items. I'm interested in books, pitchbooks and ephemera. Email [email]hhoudini@optonline.net[/email]
Clay Shevlin
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Try to locate Jim Magus' book, MAGICAL HEROES THE LIVES AND LEGENDS OF GREAT AFRICAN AMERICAN MAGICIANS (Marietta, GA, 1995). It has a 25 page chapter on Black Herman.
Bill Palmer
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The introduction of his book says "Black Herman comes once every seven years."

Some said it took that long for the bad memories to die down.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
julieannjohnson
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"Conjure Times" by Jim Haskins has a good chapter on Black Herman (Benjamin Rucker). The book is about wide variety of African American magicians through history.

A look through the Black Herman pitch book shows that he did a lot of work with ducks. He also played churches, as the photos show. Later editions of the pitch book hve fewer photos -- try to get an earlier edition if you want the greatest glimpse into his style of working.
Jsmith45
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Cool website. Thanks for the info.
Merlin C
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There are a few pages on Black Herman in Owen Davies's book Grimoires; Davies cites Conjure Times and Magical Heroes, and focuses on Rucker's book in the context of the American pulp grimoire tradition.
SJMiller
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East Tennessee
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Some new info concerning Black Herman has been added to the following biography.

http://www.magictricks.com/bios/b/black_herman.htm
julieannjohnson
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Thank you, SJMiller. I love those photos. I would like to see a few more added to the site or placed online somehow -- there is a lovely shot in the pitch book showing duck production.

By the way, Bill Palmer -- ever since you wrote that ugly joke above, I have thought less of you as a historian of magic. Black Herman was a well respected, popular, and upright performer according to the customs of his time and culture, who satisfied his audiences, and, through his pitch book, encouraged young African American boys to become stage magicians during a time of intense racial segregation, when he was one of very few Black magicians who produced a full stage show and self-booked national tours. As is well known, his slogan, "Black Herman Comes Through Every Seven Years" referred to his touring schedule in small-town African American venues, where he played at local halls and churches. Your removal pf the word "Through," turning his slogan into a cheap piece of sexual innuendo, followed by your unsupported claim that he failed to satisfy his audiences because his stage act somehow left "bad memories" is ridiculous and only points a finger of condemnation at you, for wasting our time with your ignorant, petty, and spiteful remarks.

And, Mr. Cup and Balls, don't bother telling me that Black Herman was a "charlatan" or a "fraud" or "the lowest of the low" the way you did about Anna Eva Fay, Millie LaMar, Stuart Cumberland, et al, in another thread discussion on old timers. All stage magicians are, ipso facto, charlatans and frauds. Befuddling the audience was the whole point of the magic acts of yore and charlatanry remains the point of most contemporary magic acts to this day -- yes, even in the post-Randian era of dog-eat-dog exposures and the aggressive promulgation of a fake moral dogma whereby otherwise intelligent entertainers are forced to undercut their own effectiveness by complying with the newly minted "politically correct" line that those whose acts are not hedged about by the standard disclaimer, "I am not a 'real' magician, as there is no such thing" can be freely branded as con artists and "the lowest of the low."

Grrrr.

Okay, now back to being Miss Nicey-Nice....
Bill Palmer
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I'm sorry about that. However, the first time I read that statement was in an article that was written about Black Herman by T.A. Waters or Jim Magus -- I'm not sure which -- in a series about African-American magicians he wrote in the Linking Ring about a decade and a half ago.

I never made any statement whatsoever about any alleged frauds and/or charlatanry that he may have been accused of.

You are reading much more into what I posted than I ever intended, including the so-called sexual innuendo.

You need to wash your mind out with soap.

BTW, if you want some of the real info on Cumberland, I suggest you read the Hanussen book I translated last year. It may open your eyes a bit.

Posted: Nov 27, 2009 1:29pm
By the way, Julie Ann, you have a tendency to read far more into things I have posted than I have intended. You have, in other places, accused me of anger and hate. I do not hate any of these people that you seem to think I do. Nor am I "angry" at any of them.

I have a certain amount of pity for people like Hanussen, whose cupidity and almost psychopathic disdain for his fellow man had immensely horrible consequences. However, I have been granted an insight into his mind that few have had.

When translating the work of any person, I try to understand their thought processes, so I can make as accurate a translation as possible. In a situation such as a German-English work, where there are often several different ways to translate a sentence, each with a slightly different shade of meaning, this is an absolute necessity.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
julieannjohnson
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Hi, Bill. I never mentioned Hanussen as I am not familiar with him. I certainly have no interest in opposing your conclusions about him.

If your dropping of the word "Through" (changing the slogan "Black Herman Comes Through Every Seven Years" to "Black Herman Comes Every Seven Years") was merely a typo or mind-o and had no sexual connotation, then I happily stand corrected.

I still don't understand what T.A. Waters or Jim Magus wrote that would cause you to post an unsubstantiated negative claim about Rucker's performances leaving "bad memories." As you can see from the documentary evidence cited above, when he died, the funeral parlour where his body lay on view (after the customs of the time) was mobbed by fans, in a similar way, but on a lesser scale, to the mobbing of the funeral home where Rudolph Vanentino's body was displayed. Such an demonstration of combined grief and celebrity-watching would indicated that he was a beloved entertainer and had a large fan base.

As I have said all along, Black Herman was a genuine star of his times. Due to racial segregation laws in effect in the USA during the height of his career, he was forced to place a more limited set of venues than his Caucasian contemporaries, but there is no indication in published works of the time that indicates that he was an inferior showman or that he did not find favour with his audiences.

Have you looked at the known photos of his performances? Have you tried to determine, from those photos, any insights into the nature of his shows? With the exception of the "Buried Alive" photo-documentation, none of the photos show any spectacular or unusual illusions, but as I have mentioned before, his duck production is quite charming to me.

I have no argument with you, Bill. I just happen to like the guy, that's all, and I didn't like seeing him dissed.
SJMiller
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This is not an attempt to instigate further arguement or start a new one. My intention here is to simply state the facts. In "Magical Heroes: The Life and Legends of Great African American Magaicians" by Jim Magus, on page 137, there is picture of a Black Herman flyer advertising one of his shows that states, and this is a direct quote, "Comes once every seven years". It is reported to date from his 1917 appearance at a week long church fair in St. Louis.
julieannjohnson
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Well, I love facts, and I like to be corrected, so thank you for setting me straight.

I do have Black Herman's pitch book in three different editions, and the title page of all three reads, "Black Herman Comes Through Once Every Seven Years." I think that's why what Bill said was confusing to me, because he wrote, "The introduction of his book says "Black Herman comes once every seven years."

Now you present a version of his advertising I have never seen (I have the Haskins book, but not the Magus book), but it was apparently not in his pitch book or its introduction, but from an independent advertising piece.

So it seems we were both wrong -- and both right. In any case, I extend my sincere apologies to Bill for thinking that what he quoted was "a typo or a mind-o."

This reminds me of the recent discussions on how The Great Ballantine spelled "Magishen." The answer is -- "not always the same way."
Bill Palmer
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Apology accepted. I was actually only paraphrasing. As I indicated, there was no intention at all of besmirching his name.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Jim Magus
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I am impressed by the research of Mr. Miller. I am particularly intrigued to learn Rucker learned from Kellar, and that makes tremendous sense, as does the fact that Rucker would not exploit the connection like others (minstrel magicians Alonzo Moore and M. H. Everett advertised their connections to their famous teachers). Black Herman claimed to be from Africa and was proud of his heritage.

Dr. Lew Dick, in a letter, claimed to have met Prince Herman, who was a friend of Professor Maharajah (Wilmont Barclay). In his letter, Dick claimed Prince Herman was a master of the Si Stebbens stacked deck. Dick also had met Rucker, so perhaps the Prince Herman connection was not completely fabricated.

I am the author of the statement that Bill Palmer took heat for, which appeared in my series on African American Magician history in Linking Ring magazine. It came from Fetaque Sanders, another great African American Magician. Fetaque never spoke badly of Black Herman's show or performing (though they were competitors), but did not like that "he capitalized on the superstitions of poor black folk by selling them good luck charms and potions." That is a quote from a letter from Fetaque, as is the statement that "a former assistant chaimed that Black Herman only came through once ever seven years because it took that long for the heat to die down from all the people he cheated." I knew Fetaque, and he was a good man with strong moral convictions. I did not know Black Herman, but I have interviewed a number of Black Herman's relatives.

A new book on Black Herman has been published. It is titled Black Jack by George Patton, who is the great nephew of Black Herman. Patton obtained a great deal of information from his great aunt Eva, Black Herman's second wife. He wrote the book as a novel, but if you are interested in the Black Herman story you cannot go wrong with this wonderful love story.
SJMiller
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I am very flattered by the kind words of Mr. Magus, although my name is Sam. Mr. Miller is my father.

To be completely honest however, all the research I have done on African American magicians was simply a case of knowing where to look and being fortunate enough to have, for a time, access to The Chicago Defender, a prominent African American newspaper from the past. In addition I spent 16 years researching the Negro Leagues and simply used the techniques taught to me by many wonderful people.

Unfortunately, besides Bart Kennett, whose story is covered in another post in this forum, Black Herman, Princess Mysteria (her bio will be appearing shortly at the website listed above) and Black Carl (his bio will also be appearing there in the near future), the majority of what I found was simply names and what field of magic they performed. Thus while I did find out a great deal about a handful of performers, I am bothered by the fact that there are still so many other African American magicians from the past that have yet to, and possibly never will have, their stories told.

In regards to Prince Herman and a possible connection to Black Herman, there is really no way to be certain. The reason I say this is because of Rucker's claim that Alonzo Moore, the original Black Herman, died in 1914. One must question whether Rucker heard a story about this and simply passed it on or if Rucker started this rumor (Moore was alive and still performing as late as April of 1929) in order to lay claim to the Black Herman name. If the latter was the case, then simply claiming a connection to Prince Herman would definitely be a possibility.
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