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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Polly wants a cracker... » » Originator of Dove to Silk? (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Spellbinder
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I'm trying to find out who was the first magician to perform the Dove to Silk transformation using tails. I thought the answer would be in Adair's Dove Encyclopedia or in Tarbell, but so far no luck. I'm writing up a modern tailless variation for August's The Wizards' Journal and I want to give credit where it is due. If you want to see July's issue, there are still a few days left for Café members to preview it for free. Just send me an e-mail if interested and make sure you say you're from the Magic Café because the offer is restricted to magicians and no one else would be caught dead in here!
Thanks for your help!
Professor Spellbinder
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DJ Trix
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if you are speaking of the toss vanish Channing Pollock was the creator of it
RandyStewart
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Shimada performs a great version and has refered to Pollock in the movie European Nights, as a source of inspiration, but mentioned nothing of the vanish connected to him.


We could sure use any vid clips of Pollock at work! *sigh* He contributed so much of the ground work.

I know he attened and taught at McBride's school in Vegas a year ago.

If only he knew that a new DVD, of past recorded performances, would sell a huge number of copies!



Get it on Channing! Get it on!
Harry Murphy
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Marian Chavez (Chavez school of Magic) credits Channing Pollock as the originator of the dove tossed into the air turning into a silk routine (early 1950’s, his act was polished and well established by 1955). This is found in her “Encyclopedia of Dove Magic,” (1979, Tannen’s Magic, page 104)
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Spellbinder
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Of course! Channing Pollock! The name was on the tip of my tongue but I couldn't put the letters together correctly! Thank you all so much! Smile
Professor Spellbinder

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DJ Trix
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i also got my information on this from the marian chavez book
sperris
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Wasn't General Grant the first dude to do it one handed?


Sperris Smile


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Spellbinder
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I've heard that also, but somehow it's hard to picture Gen Grant wearing tails.
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Dave Scribner
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Spellbinder: sounds like you've never seen the General perform his dove act, but he always wears tails. His act is very formal and almost demands he wear them. A regualar dinner type tux just wouldn't fit the act.
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g0thike
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You might want to mention that the dove act was created by a mexican magician named Cantu and not Channing Pollack like alot of people assume.

In my honest opinion Cantu would have been more widely know if he was of another race and TV was not so racist back in the 50's towards minorities.

G0THIKE
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Harry Murphy
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Anyone who is seriously into dove magic knows that it was Mexican illusionist “Cantu” (born Abraham J. Cantu, 1896) who created the first commercially successful dove act. He briefly billed himself as "Professor Tucan".

He had a long career performing in U.S. theaters and clubs. He played to packed houses.

He was in fact the first magician to win fame with a dove production specialty act. He would punctuate his various magic tricks/effects with the production of a dove or doves. Most of his dove productions were barehanded.

He performed in Mexican Caballero costume. Broad brimmed sombrero, short open jacket, with a colorful serape tossed over his shoulder (and another tossed over a chair). The serape hid his loads!

Interestingly, Slydini was performing at this time wearing a similar costume (without the hat and serape). Neither had any problems getting bookings. Both were earning good livings with their acts.

Cantu had the opportunity to be even more famous. He had the opportunity to set the standard for dove productions.

In 1947 he was booked to appear on a TV show on WCBS-TV in New York City. He arrived to check out the studio and set and found that the lights were unbearably hot. He did not mind the discomfort himself, but was afraid his doves might suffocate. He canceled the date.

Melbourne Christopher was his replacement (this was the first of many TV spots for Christopher).

Cantu was killed in an automobile accident in Atlanta, Georgia (1949) where he was playing to packed houses.

I doubt if it was race that made Pollock the model that magicians wanted to emulate. It was his “look”. The suave polish, the total control on stage, the pace of the act, and the new and novel ways he produced his doves.

It was the act not the race that drew the raves and drew the imitators.

More specifically to the present question, Cantu never performed a toss vanish of a dove (dove to silk).

Gothike, frankly your assertion the racist nature of early TV is wrong! You are wrong at least when it comes to magicians on the tube. Magicians of many races and nationalities were regularly featured on early TV variety shows.

Socar from India, Gali Gali from Egypt, Kuda Bux from Kashmir, Li King Se from China, are only some of the names that I could list that appeared fairly regularly on US TV during the early years.

Candu could have been one of them; he chose (rightly in my mind) to care more for his birds than any fame that TV might bring. It should be remembered that in the early days of TV (up into the 50’s) magicians were not sure that TV was good for magic. Some thought that if people could see magic on TV then they would not pay to see the act. Others saw it as free advertising for their shows.
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Spellbinder
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Quote:
On 2003-07-27 08:08, Dave Scribner wrote:
Spellbinder: sounds like you've never seen the General perform his dove act, but he always wears tails. His act is very formal and almost demands he wear them. A regualar dinner type tux just wouldn't fit the act.

You're right. I've only seen Gen Grant perform in an old black and white movie/lecture that was booked at a Mecca Magic club meeting back in the early sixties. That's where I formed my (apparently) prejudicial opinion that he wasn't the type for top hat and tails. However, can anyone confirm that he performed the dove to silk vanish or any variation of it using those tails? It seems to me that he published a great many of his own effects and would have left a record of it somewhere in the literature.
Professor Spellbinder

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Harry Murphy
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Gen Grant (General Grant Murphy, Jr.) is still alive (80ish) and still performing his dove act dressed in full evening wear.

In fact he is a feature performer at this years “Funarama 2003” convention.

He does the mentioned vanish in his act. Yes he uses the tails of his tux for the vanish. He put out a video/DVD of his entire act and step-by-step how to perform it a couple of years ago (“How to make a living by stealing…Doves of course!”). You can get it through our own Martini (Martini’s Magic). Grant also put out a couple of sets of lecture notes going over much of this material but in less depth.

His dove bags are amongst the best ever made and his “carnival ribbon” dove production is about the easiest and most elegant dove production there is.
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g0thike
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<<<Gothike, frankly your assertion the racist nature of early TV is wrong! You are wrong at least when it comes to magicians on the tube. Magicians of many races and nationalities were regularly featured on early TV variety shows. >>>

In general was my assertion of the racist nature of TV, of course we have the exceptions. I also know many ethnic magicians and performers came out on certain shows but not all. If you were “American” the doors to Hollywood were more likely to be open.

I habla espanol and I do habla espanol TV & shows. I also know older habla espanol magicians, that have told me stories and have given me advice. I have also idolised Cantu.

Presently about 10% of Hollywood is composed of ethnic groups. Now imagine in the 40's & 50's, what that number was?

G0THIKE
Harry Murphy
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Yo hablo espanol tamben. But then we were talking about the early days of TV not Hollywood. The center for early TV was New York City and Chicago. Both were (and are) melting pots. Producers of early variety shows combed their city and, to some lesser extent, the country for the best variety acts available. Early TV more so than later TV was fairly open to all whom had a good act.

Remember, and be proud of the fact, that Cantu established a act that influenced Pollock who in turn influenced many other performers.

Since you have access to some old-timer Latin magicians ask if any remember Ermando. Ermando performed mainly in California and carried on the Cantu tradition. He did almost the exact same dove act in the same style of costume. He was a very smooth performer. I’d like to know more about him.
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g0thike
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Harry,

I’ll ask about Ermando and see if anyone knows about him. My friends that perform are mainly from Mexico and South America. They have helped me develop my act and give me ideas.

The costume Cantu wore is a charro outfit which is now associated with a mariachi outfit which is also used by folklorico dancers. The noble horsemen of Mexico, originally used the outfit. Slydinni wore a Spanish matador type outfit, which is different but looks the same.

I am also very proud knowing that the "dove act" was created by a Mexican.

G0THIKE
R2
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I am of Mexican Descent and I couldn't find doves when I was younger much less buy them.

I used to recruit the local pigeons and then release them when the show was finished...They are just too messy to keep for an extended amount of time...folks laughed but it was all part of the show.......True story....I wonder if Cantu did the same when he started out....

I think Television Show Producers don't care what race you are as long as you have the "look" and the "goods"!

Nice and civil we are eh?
That's what is truly important...

Entertainment Factor!
Harry Murphy
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Gothike, Thanks for the clarification on the costume. I think that Slidini must have created a costume somewhere between the traditional Charro and the traditional torero traje de luces (suit of lights). I don’t remember Slidini wearing the tight knee pants with the tight socks.

By the way, the above-mentioned General Grant wore a Charro like costume early in his career. Perhaps he was emulating Cantu!

(Era un rejoneador como un joven. Vivía en Portugal.)

Hey ReyRey, that's a funny story! Man doves are messy enough, I can't believe that a pigeon is actually messier! Talking about el mariachi, did you get to catch any of the Mariachi competition (High School) there in El Paso back in March (it was in March wasn’t it?)?
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R2
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I read about it the competition in passing but, mariachis in El Paso are like Pigeons in Central Park....too many!.....The novelty quickly wears off.....

Once in awhile is nice though....

On a related Mexican Topic;

HBO has chosen El Paso to Premier it's film entitled "Pancho Villa Stars as Himself" this coming Thursday...The rest of the country will view it on an HBO National Broadcast September 7th.

El Paso was Pancho's stomping ground. Pancho used to live just a block from the downtown library.

It will be shown by invitation only at the Abraham Chavez Theatre.

It is a movie produced by HBO starring Antonio Banderas as the title character ...

I don't know if Tony is going to come because he is currently on Broadway....I'll let you know and take a mug shot with him iffin' he does..

The movie is based on the real life accounts of Villa, who, in the early 1900's, allowed movie producers D.W. Griffith and Harry Aiken to film him in battle in exchange for money to help fund his rebel forces.

The real film titled "The Life of General Villa" was a box-office hit in 1914.

This film changed the course of Pancho's Battle Plans...it seems Pancho was posing and setting up scenes to show him in the most positive light....

Pancho never sold out to the glamour and the money..he truly stole from the rich and distributed it to the poor working class....his folks first of course....

We went from Doves, to silks, to pigeons, to mariachis, to Mexican Rebels.

I'll put it back on track in the next post~rr
magic mike
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Hi Spellbinder,
I made a comment on the General Grant topic on this forum awhile back. You may want to look it up. I, also, made a comment on the topic titled "The Greatest Dove Worker Of All Times."

If I remember correctly, Gen. Grant won the contest for Originality at a magician's convention in 1955 in Bridgeport, Ct. It was either the IBM or SAM Nat'l Convention. He won for the one handed dove to silk effect.

I happened to know Gen. at the time and all the magicians who gathered each Saturday at Holden's Magic Shop in Boston were talking about it. It seems to me that Gen. would not have won for Originality if Channing Pollock had already started using the effect, since most Professional Magicians would have been aware of it and hence no prize for Gen.

I remember seeing Channing on the Ed Sullivan Show in March of 1954 but, I don't remember him doing the Dove to Silk on TV at that time. However, when Pollock returned from Europe he played the Sullivan show again in July of 1960 and did (or attempt) the Dove to Silk but, he missed and the dove skid across the floor. His assistant, and then wife Mimi, covered very smoothly for him by nonchalantly picking up the dove and putting it in its cage. Channing, without missing a beat, finished his act beautifully. The sign of a true professional.

I hope this helps you out. Also, please send me a copy of your article, via a personal message (pm), that you mentioned previously. It sounds like it would be very interesting.

Good luck,

Mike Smile
Channing Pollack is my idea of the perfect magician. For those of you that have not seen him perform, I recommend trying to get hold of a video of an old movie called "European Nights" made about 1959.
I was able to buy this video from Stevens Magic
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