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Tampa the Magician - Tent Show (1930)

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    Posted 5 years ago

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    Raymond Stanley Sugden, known professionally as "Tampa the Magician" was born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania on November 3, 1887.

    Like many who caught the magic bug around the turn of the 20th Century, Sugden became intrigued with the art of illusion as a youngster after seeing a performance by the great Harry Kellar.

    At the age of 30 Sugden, along with magician Ray Hartman had a Chinese magic act which they called "Chau Tung Mysteries". In 1925, Sugden changed his billing to "Sugden England's Court Magician." During this period he became friendly with Howard Thurston, building various props for him, including the "Spirit Painting" effect.

    In late 1925, Thurston and Sugden signed a ten year agreement where he would become "Tampa England's Court Magician." His full evening show under Thurston's auspices went on the road in 1926, and continuing until the stock market crash of 1929 which had a devastating effect on the entertainment world. Tampa began booking his own show much to the concern of Thurston who believed that he was becoming a competitor rather than a partner.

    In 1930 Tampa began touring with a tent show. This is a very rare poster promoting that show. This tent show only ran for a few weeks before the musicians got a court order to attach the show when they weren't paid.
    At that point the professional relationship between Sugden and Thurston dissolved even though the contract was still in force for another five years. Eventually Thurston wrote to Sugden and agreed to pay back some of the money that Sugden paid supporting the Tampa show. The settlement also included the entire Tampa show props, which had previously been owned by Thurston, along with the rights to continue to use the "Tampa" name. Thurston died the next spring, and Sugden himself died at the age of 51 in July of 1939.

    This very rare half-sheet panel promotes the tent show of 1930 which included a number of traditional vaudeville acts - including Ray Sugden Jr., who was part of The Styles Brothers dance act.

    Chris Berry

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    1. zguy2112 zguy2112, 5 years ago
      Just FANTASTIC! What an amazing piece of Magic history!!

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