Lakeside Cemetery in Colon Michigan is the final resting place of more magicians than any other cemetery in the world.
Harry Blackstone, the first magician known to pull a rabbit out of a hat, performed the trick 80,000 times before he was buried in the Lakeside Cemetery. In the 1920s Blackstone, and Australian magician Percy Abbott, turned the sleepy Village of Colon, population 1,200, into a magician’s paradise, complete with magic shops, magic theaters and an annual gathering of magicians from around the world. And while the friendship didn’t last - Blackstone retreated to a 200 acre mint farm that provided the aromatic herb to the Wrigley gum factory in Chicago, and Abbott left town – magic still floats in the air above Colon.
Blackstone died in Hollywood and could have been buried among other stars in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, stars such as Rudolph Valentino, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, but he chose Lakeside Cemetery where he is buried in a family plot along with his nearly identical brother Peter who performed in the act as Harry’s double and his son, Harry Blackstone, Jr., also a Hollywood magician. Ted Banks, an English magician who toured with Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin, is buried with his wife Sally, a tiny woman who crammed into and jumped out of small magic boxes. Jack Gwynne, who built props for Harry Houdini and taught magic tricks to actor Orson Welles, is buried beside his wife Anne, who also performed on stage, but refused to allow her husband to saw her in half.
Magicians from around the world choose to be buried in Lakeside Cemetery as a badge of honor. While performing in Beijing, China, magician Hank Moorehouse collapsed and his body was brought to Colon for burial. Ricki Dunn, a sly magician who removed wallets and belts from unsuspecting audience members, died near Las Vegas. Karrell Fox, the self-proclaimed “King of Korn” died while attending a magic seminar in Las Vegas, his cremated remains were brought to Lakeside in a “lota bowl”, a type of magician’s prop, rather than a funeral urn.
Throughout the year magicians and magic fans place coins, toy rabbits, playing cards, and magic wands on magicians’ graves and especially on Halloween night when they might witness a broken wand ceremony, a ritual performed graveside to symbol the loss of magic.
Know Before You Go
During the annual Abbott Magic Get Together Hawaiian magician "Al the Only" conducts a guided tour of the cemetery complete with a visit from local Blackstone reenactor, Joe Ganger. Lakeside Cemetery is open every day for self-guided tours. While you're in Colon attend a live magic show, browse in the magic shops or ask about the magicians' secret meeting room in the local pizza parlor.