AVM

American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2012 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.† Page 5

American Vaudeville Museum | 

Roy Benson by Starlight

by Levent and Todd Karr,

800 pages, $150, Miracle Factory, miraclefactory.org, 2006.

 

If the name Roy Benson is not widely familiar among the general public, it is celebrated by those within the stage magic community. Two lights within that community, illusionist-comedian Levent and publisher Todd Carr, have researched and written the definitive biography of the comedian-master illusionist. To refer to their book as a biography sells it short. Included in the 800 pages is an analysis of Bensonís performance, a how-to-manual of tricks as well as the story of a great performer who was born into a vaudeville family (the Dancing Fords and Emerson & Baldwin) whose own career took him from vaude to video and won him the respect of his peers. Levent explains that Benson was truly funny because he was a brilliant magician.

AVM recommends:

British Music-Hall: an Illustrated History

by Richard Anthony Baker,

300 pages, available only from on-line British sources at approximately £13, or from the publisher, Sutton Publishing Ltd., United Kingdom, 2005, ISBN 0-7509-3685-1]

 

Reading Richard Anthony Bakerís history of the Ďhallsí is like listening to a gifted raconteur at your 'local.' The stories are spun with easy wit, and one anecdote follows another with nary a stutter.

The history of music-hall has been recalled before, especially well by Raymond Mander & Joe Mitchenson, Ernest Short, Theodore Felstead, Christopher Pulling and Michael Kilgarriff, among others, but Mr. Baker's contribution to the genre transports the reader into fondly remembered halls to witness a succession of stars reprising their more famous turns.

Side bars of vital statistics, song lyrics and photos of most of the performers add to the considerable amount of information supplied by Mr. Baker and spiced by his breezy and gossipy charm.