1945c – Voltaire – William Jean Arrendorff – (British)
I have very little information on Voltaire and his "robot". The information below is from the link now dead
9.2 In Town Tonight – Voltaire
posted 29/01/05 by Richard Morrell in Oracle Articles [No comments]
Many magicians know the wonderful act of Mr. Electric – Marvyn Roy. The subject of my In Town Tonight article, Voltaire, was the progenitor of this dynamic act when, on his retirement, he sold the rights to a number of his electric effects to Marvyn Roy. Voltaire was the stage name of William Jean Arrendorff. Known as Bobby Arren he was born in Britain on December 7 1909. While still a child he moved to Canada and later became an assistant in a Medicine-Show. Bobby returned to Britain and performed various acts without great success. On one occasion he appeared in Hull in a Wonders of the World show presenting a robot that carried out domestic chores including shaving an audience volunteer with a cut-throat razor. Then he created a novelty magic act that was very popular.
He was the first person to perform an entire magic act using electric light bulbs. I saw him in August 1945 at The Tivoli Theatre. Voltaire began his act by Voltaire producing light bulbs from the air and causing them to light in his hands. He took a red bulb and it changed colour to yellow. He continued with a neat Floating Bulb routine. The sensational part of his act came when, after donning gloves and a pair of tinted goggles, he magically illuminated a huge lighthouse bulb which lit up the whole theatre. Rapturous applause followed this feat but his next and final effect was, I felt, an anti-climax. Voltaire showed a number of bulbs in a box, placed the front on the box and lit the bulbs. It could be seen that the front had the word EXIT cut out and the lights shone through. He explained that “exit” meant go and with that the box front dropped open and the bulbs had vanished, a cue for his exit. On his retirement he became a farmer and he died on April 26 1986.