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This is the seventh installment in our award-winning series of Magical Pro-Files. The format for this biography of the great Australian illusionist Les Levante, is unlike any other book in our acclaimed series. After discovering Levante's unpublished autobiography, author Kent Blackmore spent five years researching the fascinating life of perhaps the last of the great touring illusionists. Each chapter is divided into two distinct sections.
First comes Levante's personal memories of the many adventures he experienced while touring the world with his ever-expanding, full-evening illusion show. Levante's words are followed by Mr. Blackmore's considerable research wherein he adds greatly to the story, makes corrections and places into context Levante's reminiscences.
In describing his heroic struggle to the top of his profession, Levante provides a word's-eye-view of show business during the early part of this century. Travel with Levante and Company as they visit Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan and India. As a headliner in England's music halls, Levante socialized with many of magic's greatest names including Houdini, Dante, Goldin and Selbit, and he does not mince his words when describing these men, some of whom were his friends, some of whom weren't.
Levante - His Life, No Illusion contains over a hundred photos illustrating his long career and spectacular magic show. An appendix describes many of Levante's classic tricks and illusions that have been explained in magic magazines over the years.
Tipped into each copy is a rare Levante poster reproduced in full color.
Author: Kent Blackmore
Description: 239 pages measuring 7 by 10 inches
Hardbound with full-color dust jacket.
#7 in our series of Magical Pro-Files
Printed end sheets.
Tipped-in, full-color frontispiece.
Limited to 1,000 hand-numbered copies.
Published in 1997.
A PEEK INSIDE LEVANTE - HIS LIFE, NO ILLUSION
[Les Levante started recording his life story on audio tapes (that were later typed into a manuscript) in 1969 and he eventually abandoned the project in 1973. The tapes begin with a prologue that clearly illustrates Levante's writing (speaking) style and sense of humor, so what follows is that prologue in Levante's own words.]
It's Monday, November 30th, 1933. I'm standing on the rail of the Lambeth Bridge which crosses the Thames. Behind me Big Ben has just chimed twelve o'clock and here I am in a bathing costume, having been duly leg-ironed and handcuffed with two pairs of police handcuffs and a chain locked around my neck. The end of the chain runs down and is attached with another lock to the handcuffs. The end of the chain is locked to the leg-irons. The chain is really for no other purpose than to keep the handcuffs and leg-irons together for I am about to jump into the Thames from a height of about forty feet and to make an escape under water.
Presently, I feel a hand grab me around the ankle. I look down and there is a young London policeman, complete with helmet, a coat over his arm and he said to me, "Have you permission to do this, sir?" I said, "Yes." He said, "May I see it?" Well, that was a foolish question in any case, because how could I possibly have any formal paper or certificate standing in a bathing costume on this bleak Monday in November? I said to him, "My manager has it, he's down in the boat below, waiting to pick me up." The policeman then said to me, "Where did you get it from?" In my ignorance, having been in England for only about four months, I said, "From Scotland Yard." What I should have said was "from the London County Council."
I duly made the jump, made the escape from the handcuffs, leg-irons etc., and was picked up by my manager who rowed to the shore. Newsreel cameras were churning away, press boys were there with their notebooks and, of course, the young policeman with his notebook out, ready to ask me all sorts of embarrassing questions. I said to him, "I'm dressing down at the Bell Hotel which is about a hundred yards away. What about coming down there and I'll tell you everything you want to know." He agreed and I ran down to the hotel and as I went into the passageway I saw a lot of the press boys there and I said to them, "I don't think we have permission to do this dive and this young policeman is going to pinch me."
With that I went upstairs and had a hot bath and some thirty minutes later I came down to be greeted by the press and the young policeman, and I have never in my life seen a policeman get so drunk so quickly. Those press boys had just poured hot rum and hot water into him and he was 'non-compos.' I have never heard any more about it since.
So that was my introduction to London on 30th November, 1933. That night we were to commence at the Granville Theatre, Walham Green.
The late Harry Lauder, for whose memory I have great affection, and whom I was to know quite well after my arrival in England, once made a statement that if you're about to write an autobiography, begin at the beginning. So I shall begin at the beginning.