Tuesday, July 16, 2013
MONSTEROLOGY: RARE LIVE PROLOGUE TO CHANEY'S PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
In a rare event, even in the day, Universal Pictures hired "Thurston", the world-famous magician, to create an illusion to use for a prologue to a screening of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. The event was publicized in the Wednesday, August 18 issue of VARIETY.
Born in 1869, Howard Thurston was the epitome of the "unhappy boy who ran away to the circus", because he was and he did. A real-life rags-to-riches story, he was also possessed of a criminal past that he spent much of his adult life on trying to erase. As a magician, his fame was second only to his contemporary, the great escape artist Harry Houdini. Thurston, on the other (sleight of) hand, was well-known for his illusions, and especially his card tricks.
Universal hired Thurston to come up with something spectacular as a prologue for the New York opening night on 06 SEPTEMBER 1925 of the highly anticipated film, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, starring the "man of a thousand faces", Lon Chaney, Sr. To make it worth his while, the studios paid him $1,000, which was a huge sum in those days.
MONSTEROLOGY has thus far, found no record as to what exactly the illusion was that Thurston performed that night.