Annemann's life and death

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Postby Guest » 03/29/04 03:41 PM

After having read through much of Houdini Magic's cd-rom of "The Jinx" (an amazing collection that, along with their cd-rom of "The Phoenix" seems to me necessary resource material for every magician's library), I have been trying to develop some research on Ted Annemann. I realize that the following may show an embarassing lack of knowledge re: this seminal figure. However, I'd like some help in assessing his life and role in 20th century magic.

Most resources that I've read over the years have noted Annemann's "mysterious death at his own hands." However, none have offered a clear explanation of that death, how it occurred, reasons why it may have occurred, evidence that it was self-inflicted, etc. Further, outside of the discussions in Editrivia, notes on his bullet catching act, and very occasional mentions of Annemann's performances in works by Walter Gibson, there seems to be a dearth of information available about Annemann's life, his professional programs, his success as a magician, his personal life (married? children? wealthy family? grew up in poverty? brought to earth by mysterious aliens?).

I wonder if anyone can offer more specific information on Annemann's death and his life and, if possible, a biography in which there is much more specific life information than I've found.
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Postby Bill Wheeler » 03/29/04 04:22 PM

The book "Annemann" by Max Abrams would be able to provide all of the info that you would need. I regret not being able to provide more biographical details, short of the fact he was from Waverly, NY. The book covers these details.

His death was a suicide...he gassed himself.
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Postby John Smetana » 03/29/04 04:30 PM

Although I don't have a copy, I understand that the Max Abrams book about Annemann has a lot of bio material.

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Postby Guest » 03/29/04 04:57 PM

See also the chapter on Annemann in "Monster Midway", by William Lindsey Gresham. This chapter was developed from a magazine article he wrote on "Annemann, the enigma". His obit in magic/show magazines will also document his self-demise. As you acknowledge, you are starting your journey of discovery, and will see there is info out there, that can tell you what you want and more.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 03/29/04 06:15 PM

In my youth, 30+ years ago, Annemann and Houdini were of definite interest to me. I heard stories about how and why Annemann killed himself. The most popular were that he had money troubles or he was going to be drafted. To me, these didn't hold too much weight.

I was talking one day to an old timer from the Parent Assembly and he said he knew Theo and knew why he killed himself. He said that Theo found out that his wife was cheating on him. The old timer said that Theo was really trying to time a suicide attempt and let the wife walk in to save his life. By his attempting to kill himself, he thought that would get his wife back, by pity or what have you.

Needless to say she came home five hours late, instead of her normal time. The gas overcame him and a bright magic light was put out.

This may or may not be true, but the old timer seemed convincing to me. He also told me that he kept bats in a closet in his apt. I don't know if that was in the City or in Waverly.

Good Luck,

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/30/04 09:22 AM

He killed himself by putting a paper bag over his head and running a hose from the gas jet on his stove to under the bag.
I've also heard the rumor that he was despondent because he wasn't well received as a performer, but the business about his wife cheating on him rings more true than anything else.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 03/30/04 11:48 AM

While we're at it, don't forget I have an original set of The Jinx by Theo Annemann for sale. Sorry for the blatant ad. :o :o :o


Image


I have an original set of the Jinx by Annemann for sale. All 151 issues with 9 summer/winter/ index issues. It might be missing an issue or two of specials/indices. Overall fine condition. Most have been punched for three ring binder and some have hole reinforcements so they wouldn't tear. The Number One issue is the 1936 second printing, which may be harder to find than the first printing. This was made for binding purposes, so I'm told.

Of interest to the mentalist, cardworker or magic historian.

Price is $175.00 plus shipping. USA Delivery Only.

I will also trade the set for Houdini or better magic ephemera.

Thanks,
Kevin
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Postby Bill Mullins » 03/31/04 03:56 PM

Chris Wasshuber -- I hereby formally and publicly apologize for the times I've called you out for pushing Lybrary and ebooks on the forum. You are subtle, compared to the above.
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Postby GAMOLO » 03/31/04 05:52 PM

I grew up in Allentown, Penna. in the 1950's. At that time, the MAES Conventions were big deals and
plenty of NY area magi attended. Quite a few knew Annemann as well as anyone could....apparently he was a loner, a difficult personality who essentially kept to himself, though a prolific letter writer.
Anyway, the story I heard was that he was growing desponent over an upcoming gig, wherein he had promised he would do another bullet catching business. He was said to loathe the effect, despite the reputation/notoriety & headlines it garnered. He was said to be agonizing over having to top himself again, as he knew he had to come up with yet another method to perform the effect since he had essentially put in print the methods he previously used. The stage fright building up over this just overwhelmed him,as well as coping with the financial/wife troubles already mentioned.
Incidently, it was also widely said that he would resort to illustrating pornographic comics for the NYC based comic publishing industry when hard up for cash. This outlet was available for artists who couldn't crash into the more mainstream legit comic industry.
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Postby Ryan Matney » 03/31/04 06:02 PM

Can anyone say just how famous Annemann was during his time? By famous I mean to the general public.
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Postby John Smetana » 03/31/04 07:35 PM

THis info is paraphrased, and taken from an article by Vincent H Gaddis:

Although Annemann was not a smooth performer, his was an "in demand" act despite the economic conditions of the time. He appeared before foreign embassies in Washington, and in the homes of Alred E Smith, Herbert Hoover, Herbert Lehman,Mrs Cornelius Vanderbilt, Alfred P Sloan, Barbara Hutton and many other notables. He also headlined in some of the finest hotels and night clubs on the east coast.
You should know that Annemann was an introvert who hated crowds but was forced to play the extrovert during his performances. He suffered greatly from stage fright. While performing he was tense and nervous and his body would sway from side to side and his forehead would be covered in sweat. At the end of his performance he would appear to be exhausted ( he really was) and this helped foster the belief in spectators that his performance was supernatural to some degree.

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Postby Todd Karr » 04/01/04 10:11 AM

Hi, everyone

Stay tuned for a major Annemann project in the works (though at least a few years down the road). As part of our research, this week I unearthed about 75 photos of Annemann, many early ones, including shots of him as a young escape artist.

Here's what Jay Marshall said about Annemann's end in The New Phoenix: "The conclusions drawn from the evidence convinces me that it was premeditated. Ted was disturbed by each of the following: lack of money, the conscription, his teeth and tonsils, income tax, constant fights with Jeanette, the delinquency of The Jinx, the Extra which he could not put out, his chronic hypochondria, the show which was just two weeks off, alcohol, and the court order that they move from the apartment..."

Very sad.
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