Saturday, January 28, 2017
Harry August Jansen (Dante the Magician)
Harry August Jansen (1883 –1955) was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and settled in the United States. He travelled the world as a professional magician under the name Dante the Magician.
Dante worked in in vaudeville, burlesque, legitimate theatre, films, and in later years, television. Dante and his troupe, consisting of between 25 and 40 performers, made several global trips and appeared in many U.S. theaters. His stage trademark was to utter three nonsense words, "Sim Sala Bim" (taken from the lyrics of a Danish children's song), during his performances to acknowledge applause. He can be seen using these words in the Swedish 1931 feature Dantes mysterier (Dante's Mysteries) and in the 1942 Laurel and Hardy comedy A-Haunting We Will Go.
In 1940 he produced and starred the Broadway revue Sim Sala Bim on the Morosco Theatre. With television, the public stayed home more often, and the world of variety theatre suffered drastically. As a result, Dante retired to Southern California in the late 1940s. He died at his ranch in Northridge, California, of a heart attack, at the age of 71.