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This Site is Dedicated to

The Life and Career

Of Magician

 RUSSELL SWANN

   Born: Halloween, October 31, 1901

     Died – March 16, 1980
 
 
                   
 
                                                                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                                                    
Russell Swann presents his magic so that his audiences have an
hilariously good time. He does his tricks so that those who witness them
do not know how they are done, but he does not stress
  the mystery element.
  
 He comes before his audiences as a handsome gentleman who
 knows a number of feats of magic, and he is so entertaining in showing
this magic that he is quite the sort of a chap everyone would like to know personally.
 
 
 

Through his agreeable manner, his wit and his skill as
an actor he amuses his audiences to the ninth degree. Swann is magic's real humorist.

 

 
                                                                              

                                                                                                                                                                               
 
 
                                                                                                                                                                   

EARLY LIFE:

 

-  Born William Russell in Washington D.C. to Lottie Penny and Sidney Swann originally from Charles County, Maryland.

 

- Russell is the first of ten sons.

 

 - His parents eventually settle on a farm in Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania.

   
 
  
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EARLY CAREER
 
                                                        - Russell studies under the world famous Magician "Thurston".

 

- Russell's first Broadway appearance was with Fred and Adele Astaire in 1922's "For Goodness Sake" at The Lyric Theatre.

 

- In 1927, he appeared as Abie (Abraham Levy) in "Abie's Irish Rose" at The Apollo Theatre in London as well as at The London Hippodrome.

 

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1930's, '40's, '50's & "60's
 
 
 

- Russell was a successful comedy magician who eventually became one of the highest paid performers of his day.

 
 
 

- Known as "The Magic Man", Russell has performed in every major nightclub and hotel worldwide from The United States to South America, Europe, and South Africa. 

 

- His credits include command performances for President Roosevelt, (F.D.R.), and President Truman.

 

- Although famous for his live appearances, Russell also appeared in radio, film and televsion as listed in those categories below.

                                     
 
                                                                                                                                                                                         
 

 

FAMOUS VENUES
 
  

- Russell preferred playing only the "smartest rooms" and "swankiest spots" on the east coast.

 

Some of his highlight appearances in New York were at:

 

The Copacabana,

The Empire Room, The Serf Room & The Wedgewood Room at The Waldorf Astoria,

The Cotillion Room at The Pierre,

The Rainbow Room,

The Morocco Club, FeFe's Monte Carlo, 

The Belmont Plaza Hotel and The Lowes State Theater.

  

  - On the west coast he appeared in Las Vegas at The Flamingo, The Mapes in Reno and  The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

 

- He performed in Washington, D.C. at The Capital Theatre and The Troika Night Club. In Chicago at The Colony Club. 

  

- Abroad he headlined at The Dorchester Hotel Park Lane and The Wood Green Empire Theater in London as well as on the famous ship, The Queen Mary.

  

- Russell entertained industry insiders at the Banquet Show of the 1949 NBC Convention.

 
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STAGE

 

Russell's first Broadway appearance was with Fred & Adele Astaire in 1922's

"For Goodness' Sake"

    

103 Performances from February 21- May 20, 1922 at The Lyric Theatre on 42nd Street.

 
                                                      

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RADIO
 
 

 

 - Russell appeared on the NBC Radio Series, "Hildegarde", The Raleigh Room

on January 30, 1945, with Cabaret Entertainer, Hildegarde, Frank McCue and Oscar Levant. 

 

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TV APPEARANCES:

 

 

- The Milton Berle Show - November 16, 1948, Episode #1.24

     with Red Buttons and Judy Canova

 

- The Bob Hope Show - May 24, 1955

with Jane Russell and Bing Crosby

 

- The Ed Sullivan Show

 

- NBC Comedy, Mr. Peepers, playing a magician (1950's)

with Wally Cox and Tony Randall

 

- The Jackie Gleason Show (1960's) 

 

 

  CLICK BELOW to see Russell, perform his world famous guillotine trick on 

Jackie Gleason's 1960 television show. 

 

http://youtu.be/etrTOYADpVE

 

  

CLICK BELOW to see Russell, perform with Jackie Gleason as Fenwick Babbett on 

Jackie Gleason's 1960 television show. 

 

http://youtu.be/9vHVzuCSMZg

 

 

 

 

B.B.C. Television 

 

1937 B.B.C. Television - U.K. Christmas Television

 

Boxing Day, December 27, 1937, 9 p.m. - Intimate Cabaret with Reine Paulet & Russell Swann.

 

December 28, 1937 - 3:10 p.m. - Russell performs

 

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HONORS:

 

- In 1975, he was honored as "Magician of the Year" by The Society of American Magicians at Hunter College in New York.

 

- In 1979, he received the Performing Fellowship from the Academy of Magical Arts.

 

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AFFILIATIONS:

 

 - Russell was represented by M.C.A., (Music Corporation of America), the world's largest Talent Agency for music, film, radio and television stars.

 

- 1947 Member of Magician's League of America a.k.a. Profesional Magician's League, P.M.L.

( Russell's signature on League's Constitution.)

 

- 1948 Board Member American Guild of Variety Artisits.

 

- 1952 attends International Magical Congress in Geneva, Switzerland. 

 

 - 1971 Russell becomes the Secretary-Treasurer of American Guild of Variety Artists under President Miss Penny Singleton.

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FAMOUS FRIENDS: 

 
 

- Actress Penny Singleton of Blondie Fame, President of A.G.V.A.

 

- Columnist Dorothy Kilgallen  

 

- Master Magician Howard Thurston

 

-  Female Magician Dorothy  Dietrich

 

 

- Magician Walter B. Gibson

 

- Actress Rita Hayworth

 

- Actor and Magician Chester Morris

 

- Cabaret Entertainer Hildegarde

 

- Showgirl Viva Reinhard

 

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RUSSELL OPENS AT THE SAVOY PLAZA'S CAFE LOUNGE

 

May 15, 1938  (N.Y. Times)

 

          

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SEPTEMBER 1940 GENII MAGAZINE
Article on Night Club Magic Co-written by Russell.
 
 
                                                         
                                  
OCTOBER 1940 GENII MAGAZINE
Article on Night Club Magic Co-written by Russell.
 
 
 
DECEMBER 1940 GENII MAGAZINE
Article on Night Club Magic Co-written by Russell.
      
               
                                                             
           
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LOOK MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 30, 1941.
RUSSELL IS FEATURED WITH RITA HAYWORTH,
GLORIA VANDERBILT AND MOVIE STAR BRUCE CABOT
 AT FEFE'S MONTE CARLO NIGHTCLUB IN NEW YORK.
 
 
 
 
 
 
                    
 
 
 
 
                                                                                                                                                                                          
 
 
 
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THAT YEAR, RUSSELL ALSO MAKES THE OCTOBER 1941 COVER OF
"THE SPHINX" MAGAZINE

 

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RUSSELL'S 1944 COMIC BOOK, "AIR ACE".

 

 

 

 

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LIFE MAGAZINE JUNE 23, 1947

RUSSELL IS FEATURED IN ARTICLE ABOUT

THE SOCIETY OF AMERICAN MAGICIANS CONVENTION

AT THE MORRISSON HOTEL IN CHICAGO. 

 

 

 

 Photo #1: Russell with lovely assistant snake charming some Shriners while dressed as a genie playing a horn.

 

Photo #2: Russell getting squirted in the face with water during a telephone prank.

 

CLICK BELOW & OPEN PAGE 122.

 

http://books.google.de/books?hl=en&id=N0gEAAAAMBAJ&q=russell+swann#v=snippet&q=russell%20swann&f=false

 

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IN 1947, RUSSELL ATTENDS THE 1ST ANNUAL

TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF MAGICIANS CONVENTION 
 
 
 

RUSSELL BEING ENTERTAINED BY CHILD MAGICIAN,

BOBBY WHITE AT THE CONVENTION

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RUSSELL PERFORMS AT 1947 "ABBOTT'S FAMOUS MAGIC GET TOGETHER" 

 

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RUSSELL'S 1948 COMIC BOOK, "THE RED DRAGON". 

 
                    
                                                                                                                                        
 
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 ADS PROMOTING RUSSELL'S APPEARANCE AT

THE WEDGEWWOD ROOM AT THE WALDORF ASTORIA IN NEW YORK.
 
     
 
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FUN FACTS ABOUT RUSSELL
 
 
 
- In 1942, Russell names his new rabbit, Spencer, after his press agent.
 
 
 
- Russell was slated for the Ralph Edwards spot on Truth or Consequences
until someone realized his last name was in conflict with Swan Soap,
 a major sponsor of the show and he lost the gig. 
 
 
  
 
        Source: The Billboard Magazine, April 29,1944   
 
 
- Russell's early Chinese assistant was Patrick Aloysius Murphy.
 
 
 
 - Russell's Chinese assistant, Tom, pictured at top of page,
was replaced in 1946 by June Nolden, en ex-College Inn model.
 
 
- Russell and friend actor/magician, Chester Morris, were known to keep the waitresses
at The Beverly Derby in hysterics with their impromtu luncheon illusions.
 
 
  

- Famous Female magician, Dorothy Dietrich was performing in the Showcase for the Parent Assembly of the Society of American Magicians when Russell and Magician Walter B. Gibson were captivated by her performance and took her under their wings.

 

 
- Russell was known to appear at family weddings suddenly in a puff of smoke

 much to the delight of the crowd.

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COPY FROM RUSSELL'S PERSONAL STATIONERY

  

  Russell Swann

  "the magic man"

 

    355 West 55th Street

    New York City

    Columbus 5 - 8321   

 
   
     

 

        Presenting: The Rope of Sinbad, The Chinese Cage, The Little Red Handkerchief, The Phantom Magician,

The Hindu Mystery, The Traveling Cards, The Multiplying Sponges,

The Obedient Liquids and many others.

 

Programs for all occasions: Lodges, Societies, Private Parties, Schools, Churches, Men's Clubs, Children's Parties

 

 
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REVIEWS
 
 
 
 
“Swann Song: No Horse and Buggy Magic:
Russell Swann , a magician with a sense of humor and a Chinese assistant named Patrick Murphy, is lifting legerdemain
to new entertainment heights at The Colony Club.
The suave swami approaches the great arts of the ancient Merlin with his tongue in his cheek and an ace up his sleeve." 
Chicago Daily Tribune, May 14, 1939 
 
“This top billed suave comic magician can still handle audiences with amazing skill”.

The Billboard – September 28, 1946 – Review of Performance at Glass Hart Belmont Plaza Hotel N.Y.

 

“Swann charmed rounds of applause out of the onlookers once again proving that apparatus does not make the magician”.

The Billboard – November 26, 1949 – Review of Performance at Terrace Room, Statler Hotel Detroit

 
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“COMMENTS FROM THE  FANS" 
 
 
 

“Russell Swann was extremely successful, earning $2000 a week when other magicians were happy with $300. There is a great picture in an old Genii magazine with Swann, Snag Werris and a singer named Sinatra all wearing towel turbans doing the Snake Basket. That’s the kind of juice Swann had!

Swann had a successful run in England, earning the admiration of the likes of The Great Lyle, which is a hallmark of how good Swann was.

He was one of the very best at what he did, and that was entertain with magic”.

 

“Swann (who I did see) was a fine nightclub entertainer at the time. He used a lot of stock stuff and got a lot out of it all. A rabbit-wringer, for example; taking the flattened rabbit and putting it into a dove-pan with an air gizmo from a tire attached, and inflating it with a hand pump. Sound corny? Wasn’t when Swann did it. He sort of got out of magic professionally and became an official in A.G.V.A.”.

 

“I seem to recall seeing Russ Swann at an annual S.A.M. show in N.Y.C. Wasn’t he the one who appeared to be having a problem with the snake basket effect and then laid down on the stage and worked on the basket from underneath, much like a mechanic would do? Was hilarious…at the time…I think he also did an excellent head chopper routine”.

 

“Van Hoven and Swann were very successful performers, because of their personality they sold and the entertainment value their acts had. They were both very funny and got high salaries from the vaudeville to nightclub era, when many performers couldn’t make that adjustment”.

 

“Gali-Gali and Russell Swann performed in top spots throughout the United States for years and years and years while other magicians with more prominent stars in the magic firmament were performing at magic wand conventions or getting good press in magic journals, thus ensuring themselves a more lasting legacy with the magic community.

Perhaps Swann and Gali-Gali were too busy performing to attend conventions, perhaps their magic was too pedestrian to interest the amateur seeking new effects, perhaps their agents thought it was inadvisable, or perhaps they were just in show business while others gravitated more toward the camaraderie that the magic community provides”.

 

“Russell Swann performed his guillotine on the old Jackie Gleason TV show. During rehearsal the director kept cutting him down in time, eliminating funny lines and bits of business. When Swann complained, he was told, “we already have a comedian on the show”.

The gentleman has it exactly right that Gali-Gali and Swann were too busy performing to attend conventions. Both men were part of Show Business NOT amateur magic. They knew that if they attended conventions amateurs would happily steal lines and bits of business or full presentations, so they stayed away, happy to work for high salaries as opposed to doing conventions for little or no money and exposing their acts to a lot of potential thieves”.

 

“Russell Swann – I know he was one of the top comedy acts in the Eastern finer nighclubs”. I do know he did the Snake Basket as a feature”.   

 

 

 

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