Al Flosso

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Albert Levinson
Born 1895
Brooklyn, New York
Died May 13, 1976 (aged 81)
New York City
Nationality American
Other names Al Flosso, The Coney Island Fakir
Occupation Magician
Known for Stage performer, magic store owner

Albert Levinson (Oct. 10, 1895 - May 13, 1976) was a Jewish American magician and entertainer, better known by his stage name Al Flosso.

Levinson was born in Brooklyn, New York, and took his stage name from a vernacular or slang term for cotton candy: "floss".[1]

Originally performing primarily in Vaudeville and at Coney Island, he was noted among his peers for perfecting the "Miser's Dream" illusion of producing numerous coins out of thin air and dropping them with a loud clang into a bucket. Later, he appeared on a number of early TV shows, such as "The Ed Sullivan Show" where he was the first magician invited and appeared many times, the "Toast of the Town", and "The Steve Allen Show", among others. He also appeared in several films, including the 1931 Marx Brothers film "Monkey Business".

"Al Flosso grew to be a legend in Magic. Of The Coney Island Fakir world famous entertainer Joseph Dunninger said, "If there is a better all round magician I have yet to discover him!" Although only 5' 2" tall Flosso became a giant to his audiences as he honed his act in the tough carnival world of Coney Island. Flosso was also a master Punch and Judy worker and can be seen in the movie 'A Night at The Opera' starring the Marx Brothers. Al was at home on any stage however big or small and in 1973 became Magician of the Year after an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. At his funeral Dr. Arnold Boston said, "From ten performances a day on the platforms of Luna Park and Dreamland to numerous appearances on national television, he never gave a bad show." from Fantasma Magic

From 1939 - 1976 Flosso owned and operated Martinka & Co, in New York City, America's oldest magic company, once co-owned by Harry Houdini, also later known as the Flosso/Hornman Magic Co. Levinson died in New York City in 1976. Following his death, Martinka Magic, which is still in operation, was taken over by his son, Jack Flosso,[2] also a magician, who died in 2003.

The New York Times described the Flosso's Magic Shop as, "a messy Aladdin's cave of magical marvels from trick cards and ropes to a live lion that one owner, the magician Carter the Great, kept in the back room. It was also an atmospheric fraternity house where a visiting European magician, a superstar like David Copperfield and a curious teenager from Queens might rub elbows, ideas and magic wands. The younger and older Flosso held court on an old sofa, both making smart comments in an accent not unlike that of W. C. Fields.

Another writer and amateur magician recounts how happy he was the day Jack Flosso first invited him to see the back room, and tells of having bumped into, on various visits to the shop, such diverse notables as illusionist David Copperfield, magic enthusiast Muhammad Ali, and even Larry Fine's granddaughter, a performing clown magician in New York.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Montague Chadbourne, conversations with Mr. Flosso, ca. 1960-1973, and with Jack Flosso, ca. 1967–1994, included in essays written for the combined exhibition of the Chadbourne Thaumaturgium and the Main Street Museum, White River Junction, Vermont, 2008.
  2. ^ Jack Flosso obituary, New York Times, October 1, 2003.
  3. ^ John Gingles, "A Personal Memoir", Washington, D.C., 2007.