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Herbert Albini

Vaudeville Illusionist Who Inspired Horace Goldin

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Herbert Albini

Herbert Albini Poster

  • 1860-1913
  • Real Name: Abraham Laski
  • Birthday: ?
  • Birthplace: Poland
  • Buried: ?

Herbert Albini was a Polish-born stage magician whose trademark was opening a new deck of cards for each effect. By the end of his act the stage was covered with discarded decks.

Albini's skill was undeniable, but his attitude apparently was rather crude and insolent. And as talented as he was on his own, he depended on the fame of two other magicians to promote himself.

Albini began his career in the 1880s billed as "Rossini", exhibiting the illusion then known as "Galetier", but which is now known (and still performed today) as "Girl To Gorilla". In the illusion, a pretty girl steps into a box with a glass dorr in front. As the audience watches, she visibly and gradually changes into a hairy gorilla. Suddenly, the gorilla bursts from the box and jumps into the crowd, giving everyone a fright.

Success was not coming fast enough, however, so Abraham Laski took the stage name "Albini", a variation of the stage name of British magician Lieutenant Albini, hoping to capitalize on the original Albini's popular reputation. Lieut. Albini complained, and though Lasky agreed to change his name again to "Alvene", he never did. Instead, as "Albini" he became more successful and well known than the original.

Albini eventually traveled to the United States in 1891 with a large illusion show, and used some graphically pleasing posters.

By 1911, billing himself as "Albini the Great", he had one of the largest illusion acts in vaudeville, promoting his "$15,000 production" that used twelve stage assistants.

Albini is credited with inventing the Albini Egg Bag, which was a variation on the Bamberg Egg Bag. Albini's improvement was to make the bag smaller, so that it could be turned inside out with one hand.

Albini was the idol of young Horace Goldin. Goldin was able to meet Albini in New York City; Albini taught him his Egg Bag trick, and Goldin was able to start his career working the dime museums.

Rumored to have saved the life of Charles Considine, owner of the Sullivan-Considine vadeville circuit in the Midwest, Albini enjoyed constant work and a headline status on the circuit.

Albini died of a heart attack in his hotel room after a show in Chicago. A young Harry Blackstone Sr. outfitted his first major illusion show with equipment he purchased from Albini's estate.


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