I met vaudeville magician Werner “Dorny” Dornfeld, as a teen, when he presented me with an award in a Chicago magic contest. When Dorny was a teenager, he was performing for the troops in Europe during World War One. Two very different childhoods, to be sure, but we shared a common ground with our love for magic and performing.
When Dorny returned from the war, he turned his talents towards vaudeville and performing comedy magic in fraternal lodges. Quickly, he was booked to play in a legitimate theater production with stage and film star Elsie Janis.
“At the end of the war Miss Janis organized an all-soldier show called Elsie Janis and her Gang. We had thirty-eight wonderful weeks on tour with the show, playing the best theatres coast to coast” Dorny recalled. One of those “best theaters” was Chicago’s Illinois Theater located across from City Hall at 65 E. Jackson Boulevard.
Since meeting Dorny at the magic contest, I’ve forgone performing with the open collar look. I now follow Dorny’s example and always sport a bow-tie.