I heard a rumor about Theodore DeLand

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/16/02 10:36 PM

Has anyone else heard a rumor about why Theodore DeLand died in an insane asylum in 1931?
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Postby John Pezzullo » 02/17/02 06:31 AM

Richard,

In his introduction to "Who's Who In Magic", Bart Whaley refers to eight magicians who 'ended their careers and lives in insane asylums':

-Frizzo
-David 'Blitz' Batents
-Theodore DeLand
-Carl Brema
-Winston Freer
-Bob Hummer
-Glen Pope
-Harlan Tarbell

I guess it's hard to know the exact truth when it comes to matters like this. It's not the kind of thing that reaches print and becomes widely known.
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Postby Terry » 02/17/02 08:02 AM

I guess it's hard to know the exact truth when it comes to matters like this. It's not the kind of thing that reaches print and becomes widely known.


Could also be that, back then, anyone who acted "different" was placed in an asylum and doesn't mean they were insane. Maybe some of the gentlemen listed had Alzheimer's or another disorder that wasn't identified until recently?
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Postby Robert Kane » 02/17/02 08:37 AM

To Terry's point...Believe it or not...many of these "insane asylums" were actually fine hospitals that were beautifully designed facilities managed by dedicated staff in order to help people who suffered from a variety of problems, both mental and physical.

NPR recently ran a piece about such places and how people could actually go to them and have time to heal under attentive and beautiful surroundings. A Quaker ideal I believe.

These places are vanishing or have pretty much vanished. NPR reported that today people get precious little attention or time to heal since hospital stays and treatment are so expensive.

Most of the time people are simply given drugs to sedate and calm, but not truly heal (if healing is at all possible).

At the end of the day, I guess that I could think of worse places to die and I would not want to see the memory of these fine performers sensationalized simply because they had sought help for whatever malady they suffered.

I would not automatically conclude that any of these magical personalities suffered a lonely and painful death/existence a la "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." We all typically visualize this when we read the term "insane asylum." The NPR series covered this a bit as well and attempted to dispel the myth.

:)

[ February 17, 2002: Message edited by: Robert Kane ]
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 02/17/02 12:13 PM

There are no doubt many people in magicdom, as in other sectors of society, who have mental disorders or psychological dysfunctions of varying degrees and impairment. Few of them, however, seek or find themselves in asylums, sanitariums, or rehabilitation facilities.

Harlan Tarbell, who lived in my hometown (Elmhurst, Illinois), was always an eccentric person. Bob Parrish called him "an All-American nut." He was interested in homeopathy and other eccentric, fringe therapies. He liked off-beat things. (This is probably what attracted him to magic!?) As he got older, his eccentricities became more pronounced or at least more obvious. I don't think he was insane--just a tad dotty and weird.

Bert Allerton, who reputedly had "drinking problem," ended up in the Elgin State Hospital (I went to school at Elgin Academy in the same city), which suggests that his alcoholism resulted in other, serious debilitations. This does not mean that he was insane.

Bob Hummer was indeed a strange guy. I doubt, though, that he was seriously insane or delusional--just a garden-variety wack-job.

Let's face it, if everyone deemed to be a "nut case" in magicdom were segrated into one place, I'm sure there would be enough wackos to hold a convention the size of FFFF. In fact, I'd love to attend THAT convention...that is, if I wasn't one of the nut cases deemed to be there in the first place?

Besides, consider what we do (as magicians) on a daily basis. Don't we live in a fantasy world of our own choosing? Don't we perform crazy things?

Years ago, I lived next door to a "shrink" and he asked me to frequently perform for the patients in the mental ward at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. The first time I performed there, I was led into the waiting room of the LOCKED ward. While sitting there, waiting to be ushered into the performing area, a man in a bathrobe shuffled up to me and asked, "Are you a doctor?"

I shook my head.

"Are you a social worker?"

I shook my head again, indicating no.

"What are you then?"

"I'm a magician," I replied.

He then nodded and said: "I see...you're a new patient then..."

Onward...
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Postby Ryan Matney » 02/17/02 01:21 PM

Has anyone else heard a rumor about why Theodore DeLand died in an insane asylum in 1931?


Well...Have you ever tried to make your own gaffed cards?
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Postby John Pezzullo » 02/18/02 02:09 AM

Years ago, I lived next door to a "shrink" and he asked me to frequently perform for the patients in the mental ward at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.


These performances must have certainly been unique experiences. I'm trying to picture JR in a scene from "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" performing card tricks for Jack Nicholson and the rest of the guys.
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Postby John Pezzullo » 02/19/02 03:35 AM

I heard a rumour that David Acer escaped from an asylum back in 1989.

Has anyone else heard this rumour?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/19/02 11:02 PM

It's not a rumor: I have seen a grainy black and white videotape of Acer sneaking out the back door of the asylum.
Sankey was right behind him.
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Postby Tom Stone » 03/21/02 05:04 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
It's not a rumor: I have seen a grainy black and white videotape of Acer sneaking out the back door of the asylum.
Sankey was right behind him.

But who was that guy outside? The one who shouted "Finally!" and ran inside, as the back door opened? Was that David Williamson?
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