The Magicians

Many of the great magicians made their way to Powers’ Opera House/Theatre stage several times over the decades. I’m beginning to wonder to be a great magician you need to have the first name of Harry, Howard, or Herrmann.


“Herrmann The Great” in league with …

Alexander “Herrman The Great” (1844–1896) Performed December 9, 1880 with his wife Addie, levitated as supported only by her elbow.

Harry Kellar Levitation Poster 1894

Harry Kellar Levitation Poster 1894

Harry Kellar (1849–1922) Kellar was the predecessor of Harry Houdini and the successor of Robert Heller. He was often referred to as the “Dean of American Magicians” and performed extensively on five continents. One of his most memorable stage illusions was the levitation of a girl advertised as the “Levitation of Princess Karnack”.

Look! Read!! Wonder!!! Two Nights and Saturday Matinee Jan. 4th & 5th 1889 at Powers’ Grand Opera House, The World’s Master Magician, The Wonderful KELLAR. Modern Miracles!

Howard Thurston 1908

Howard Thurston 1908

Howard Thurston (1869–1936) “World’s Most Famous Magician – The Wonder Show of the Universe”. Kellar’s Successor. Thurston had the largest traveling magic show for the time, requiring more than eight entire train cars to transport his props across the country. Thurston was the most famous magician of his time, even more famous than his contemporary Harry Houdini.

Houdini Showing How To Escape Handcuffs 1918

Houdini Showing How To Escape Handcuffs 1918

Harry Houdini (1874–1926) Houdini was a Hungarian-born American magician and escapologist, stunt performer, actor and film producer noted for his sensational escape acts. He was also a skeptic who set out to expose frauds purporting to be supernatural phenomena. Although Harry Houdini, and his wife Bessie, performed in Grand Rapids on several occasions over the years it is unclear whether he ever performed at Powers’ Theatre. His most daring feat of escape from a straightjacket in Grand Rapids was on wednesday 29 November 1916 when he was suspended from the newly constructed Grand Rapids Savings Bank, now known as The Select Bank Building. He was raised upside down to the 5th floor from rigging on the 9th floor. This was his first attempt to escape from such a height.

Harry Blackstone, Sr. circa 1920s

Harry Blackstone, Sr. circa 1920s

Harry Blackstone (1885–1965) Blackstone was a famed stage magician and illusionist of the 20th century. He was born Harry Bouton in Chicago, Illinois, and began his career as a magician in his teens. He was popular through World War II as a USO entertainer. Harry was often billed as “The Great Blackstone”. It is noted that Blackstone had a personalized trapdoor installed in the Powers’ Theatre stage. It was most likely still intact with the inscription “Blackstone” when the building was demolished. This would have made a great addition to the Grand Rapids Public Museum collection. His son Harry Blackstone, Jr. also became a famous magician.

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