I Am Dave W. Roberts 1882-1942 Magic For Clubs & Societies Formally With Thurston: My Great Grandfather
This is a short biography of my Great Grandfather, Dave W. Roberts, aka David W. Weinroberts. He was my Mother, Benita Weinroberts Levison Charles’ father.
He was a well known magician known by thousands in Scranton, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and areas beyond. His capabilities as a magician and exponent reputation of legerdemain earned him quite a reputation over a period of many years.
Formerly a childhood friend, protégé, and an associate of Thurston, the great magician. My Great Grandfather appeared in amateur and professional roles for nearly fifty years and frequently toured the east on vaudeville programs. A deep student of the art of legerdemain, Mr. Roberts possessed the ability to hold his audience spellbound ae demonstrated the wide repertoire of tricks he had mastered. His skillful use of his hands conjuring up a magic trickery was second to none.
I have researched for several years trying to gather as much information about Mr. Roberts life and history. In the process, I have made contact with several experts in the field of magic.
My first research begins with 42 newspaper articles from the Scranton Republican (Scranton, PA). These articles date from 1913-1942.
In numerical order, my earliest find is an article from June 10, 1913. At Luna Park, Scranton, “Prof. La Mar with the assistance of Dave W. Roberts opened an excellent show, a performance of the magic art, including the great levitation act and the great trunk mystery.”
A brief article was written April 14, 1920. The November 29, 1923 article has much interest, “Dave Roberts, who has a claim to being considered a clever magician, was walking about very proudly yesterday with a letter in his pocket from Thurston, the celebrated magician. The letter contained an invitation to eat Thanksgiving turkey with Mr. Thurston, which was accepted. In his letter Mr. Thurston laid emphasis on the fact that he desired to talk over old times with the Scranton man. The two were boys together, and studied, in common the tricks which make the magician so popular and entertainer. While Thurston has been the more fortunate in getting an international audience, Mr. Roberts is admittedly very clever and can do many astonishing things in the way of making things appear differently from what they are.” THE STROLLER
February 27, 1924 article, “Dave Roberts, whose skill as a magician is now generally recognized and who received his training at the same time and with the world-famous Thurston, has been appearing recently before assemblages of various kinds, society meeting, dinner, entertainments and private gatherings. His success in all cases is the cause of much favorable comment. Recently Mr. Roberts had occasion to do some business in The Republican accounting room. While there he performed feats which amazed and mystified the attaches of the office. Thurston has always recognized the fact that Mr. Roberts possesses unusual gifts as a magician and with a little of the famous man’s luck the Scranton performer might also have become a national celebrity.
There are many more articles in reference to Mr. Roberts and the Great Thurston. July 23, 1927 he is mentioned that he attended the twenty-third annual dinner of the Society of American Magicians in New York City. Along mentioned in the article is Thurston, John Mulholland and Ching Lin -Foo. The May 31, 1929 article mentions his attendance at the annual gathering of the American Magicians’ Society in New York at the Hotel McAlpin on the evening of June 7. In the same article “Mr. Roberts while on his present trip he will visit Thurston, Mme. Heerman, the widow of the great magician of that name, and Mrs. Houdini.”
In M-U-M of 1985, there was one reference about Houdini being attacked by pirates off the coast of Tasmania by Mr. Roberts.
So many more articles to share. Names, places and incredible stories of his life. He was great friends with many celebrities such as Raymond Hitchcock (actor) and Little Johnny Jones. who at the request of Tom Osborne “TALK ABOUT PHILADELPHIA” from TOPS Magazine, he announced the death of Dave Roberts and would someone notify Johnny Jones.
My Great Grandfather’s collection with the exception of my photos, silks, business cards, and Thurston’s Nutrition Card, went to Stanley T. Wentworth of Philadelphia. I have never been able to contact or locate any information on this person. He was spoke of in the “The Linking Ring For October” (year unknown) by John Booth.
I would like to share this one fascinating article with the original photo and date written on the back by the hand of Mr. Roberts. I believe this photo has never been seen before and is a one of a kind. Thurston The Great being entertained by my Great Grandfather. The newspaper article from the Scranton Republican dated the same day confirms their friendship and time and place. This photo is truly my pride and joy. Please comment if you have seen this photo in the magic world.
Unfortunately, the life and times of my Great Grandfather comes to an end sadly. “Dave W. Weinroberts better known to thousands through out the region as Dave Roberts whose capacities as a magician and exponent of legerdemain earned him quite a reputation over a period of years, died suddenly from a heart attack”.
In conclusion, my Great Grandfather and Thurston were life long dear friends. They stayed close their whole lives. Who knows if Dave W. Roberts career as a magician could have taken him world wide along side his best friend, Thurston The Great.