The Colon Lakeside Cemetery is the home to more magicians than any other cemetery in the world. The cemetery was founded sometime in the mid 1800's and currently has over 2,300 graves. The cemetery is divided into 7 sections that run parallel to each other with dirt roads in between the sections. Over 40 famous and not so famous magicians are buried here. The cemetery has several nick names including "The Magicians Graveyard", "The Final Act", and "The Magic Graveyard" just to name a few.
The annual Magic Get-Together takes place in early August each year, and in the past there had been cemetery tours - but they were usually by invitation as described in the movie above. In 2008 Abbott's decided to have a formal cemetery tour that would be on the schedule for that years Get Together. Abbott's asked Al The Only to host this tour, since he was the one being given the tour in the movie above by Karrell Fox. Abbott's thought it could be a "passing of the torch" with Al and they were certainly proven right. Al The Only has been giving the tour annually now for over a decade and has authored a book on the tour called "The Magic Graveyard". Under Al The Only's watch the cemetery tour has truly reached new heights! Click on a year below to see what the tour looked like that year.
MAGICIANS ON THE CEMETERY TOUR
Below are the current residents of the cemetery at the time of this writing (2022). Where possible we have included pictures of the deceased, pictures of the headstone, locational information, and gps co-ordinates. There are currently over 40 magicians on the tour which takes place on Thursday annually at the Abbott Get Together. The Colon Historical Society has a pdf version as well.
Lakeside cemetery Map. Although not to scale, this map corresponds with the numbers below to give an approximate location of the respective gravesite. You can pick up a map at Abbotts Magic Shop should you decide to visit this famous cemetery. Sections that do not include magicians on this page are grayed out.
1. Kempton, George (1868-1931) and Mattie (1868-1946) were the Kempton Komedy Kompany in vaudeville. They played the Hill Opera House in Colon and liked the area and retired here and began organizing weekly shows with local talent at the Hill Opera House. Sec 4; Row 45; # 6&7 GPS Pic
2. Lamore, Skippy (1893-1942 and Jean (1888-1962) Skippy and Jean worked as a vaudeville team for several years, showing in the leading theatres. In 1930 they opened their own show, known as "Skippy LaMore's Comedians". Traveling through Colon on the train they saw the beautiful lakes and decided to stop for the day. That was in 1929. They spent the rest of their lives here. Upon Skippy's death, the Abbott purchased his huge tent and it was used for the Get-Together for many years. Sec 5; Row 27; # 1 GPS Pic
3. Coppin, Ted (1886-1942 and Della (1909-1977) Their stage names were "Ted and Sally Banks. Della started in show business at the age of 8. In 1927 she became a "box hopper" for Blackstone's act. She soon married Ted Banks, Blackstone's stage manager, who had come to the United States from England in an act with actors Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel. Ted died and Sally, then 42, remained to look after the Blackstone property here in Colon and help raise Harry Jr. Sec 5; Row 21: # 2 GPS Pic
4. Thornton, Jesse (1901 -1943) Velma Wagner (1917-1987) Jesse began as a boy to experiment with magic tricks. For several years he was a professional magician, but then he turned his attention to inventing magic apparatus for the Abbott's Magic Novelty Company. Jesse was in an automobile accident (with U.F. Grant) and had serious leg injuries. For 12 months he was bed ridden. His mind, kept working on magic and he was able to describe many of his ideas to his assistants in the plant. Sec 5; Row 23; # 1 / GPS Pic
5. Blackstone (Bouton), Harry (1885-1965) who used the stage name of Harry Blackstone. He became one the world's most famous magicians and brought Magic to Colon in 1926 when he bought some 200 acres on what is now known as Blackstone Island where he spent the summers. He and his look-alike brother Peter were in show business for over fifty years. Colon's Main Street was renamed Blackstone Avenue in his honor. Sec 5; Row 28; # 4 Pic / GPS Pic
6. Bouton, Peter (1887-1968) and (Millie) Mildred (1902-1979) Peter was the look-alike brother of Harry Bouton (Harry Blackstone). He and his wife stayed at Colon after the Blackstone Troupe left the stage until their deaths. In Pete's hand the physical equipment of the show appeared like new. Sec 5; Row 28; # 7 Pic / GPS Pic
7. Gwynne, Jack (1895-1969) and Anne (1896-1979) "The Royal Family of Magic." Jack invented the "Temple of Benares." Gwynne regularly attended the Pittsburgh vaudeville theatres. When an aerobatic act missed the opening, the manager asked Gwynne to fill in for the day. The result was a lifetime career. Sec 7; Row 17; # 5 Pic / GPS Pic
8. Robbins, Kenneth (1902-1971) was teamed up with his father Marvin (Dud) as jugglers, slack wire walkers, comedy and acrobatics in vaudeville. They settled permanently in Colon and still have many descendants and relatives in Colon. Sec 5; Row 5; # 4 GPS Pic
9. Stern Duke (1913-1973) He was famous for comedy magic. He was married to Barbara Maurer, a Colon girl. Duke had many years of experience in various branches of the entertainment world. Fundamentally of course, he is a magician and expert musician and his favorite instrument is the violin. He and Gladys Abbott were the "band" for the Get Together for years. He worked as a "stooge" for Monk Watson and Karrell Fox. Sec 2; Row 15; # 13 Pic / GPS Pic
10. Merrill, Fred R. (1888-1976) and Caroline E. (1900-1991). Before the First World War, Fred was with the Merrill Brothers and "Morris Cronnin and his Merry Men", a comedy European Juggler Act in vaudeville and he and his wife moved to Colon where he worked for Abbott Magic Company for 32 years and Caroline for 23 years. Fred and Neil Sweet trained a young Colon boy (Hugh Frisbie) to juggle (His life profession). Sec 6; Row 27; # 4 GPS Pic
11. Baird, Bill 1914-1978) His stage name was "The Magnificent Fraud." Born William Keckritz, Baird was a professional magician best known for his billiard balls manipulation. I was told by competent authority that he actually had a finger broken and reset at an angle that facilitated his manipulation of the full size billiard balls. Back in the days of the Magic Carpet Restaurant, they had a "Bill Baird Room." Sec 7; Row 29; # 1 GPS Pic
12. Bordner, Recil (1910-1981) and Donna (1912-1974) The son of an Ohio farm couple, he tried mind-reading at an early age and then switched to magic. Bordner came to Colon in 1934 to visit Percy Abbott's Magic Novelty Company, That visit ended up in a partnership with Abbott that lasted 25 years. Abbott sold to Recil who operated it for another 22 years. His son Greg then took over the company. Sec 6; Row 3; # 6 Pic / GPS Pic
13. Watson, Donald (Monk). (1894-1981) Born in Jackson, Donald was sent to Colon to live with his grandparents when his mother became terminally ill. A veteran of World War I, Donald met Elsie Janis and joined her troop for two years after the war. He once teamed with Ben Kubelsky (Jack Benny) in vaudeville. As a band leader, he played 5,000 consecutive performances at the Riviera Theatre in Detroit. During this time he hired a young man calling himself "Packy East" to dance during his show. You might know him as Bob Hope! Monk was with the USO in WWII as a magician and showman. Sec 5; Row 21; # 5 Pic / GPS Pic
14. Kitchen, Inez Blackstone (1889-1983) Inez Nourse was hired to play the banjo in the Blackstone show and became Mrs. Blackstone. In 1926 the Blackstone Magic Show summered at West Lake, near Kalamazoo," recalled Inez. "I was part of it, of course, and afternoons I liked to take the car and go exploring. One afternoon when I came out of an avenue of trees and there before me was this gleaming lake." When she found the peninsula (island) was for sale, that was it. She, with Harry Blackstone Sr. brought magic to Colon. In 1930 Harry and Inez divorced. Sec 5; Row 27; #5 GPS Pic
15. Babbs, Arthur Glenn (1921-1987) and Patricia (1934- ). He built magic for U.F grant in his early years and opened a magic shop in Thornville Ohio where he built his creations. In 1961 he came to Colon, where he worked for Abbott's until his death. His stage name: "Arturo." Sec 6; Row 69; # 8 GPS Pic
16. Fabek, Vince (1947-1991) was involved with magic, balloons and puppets. His stage name was "Holiday." He was employed in the nursing field and lived in Colon for the last 17 years of his life. He was a member of the Puppeteers of America and the Howdy Doody Historical Society. Sec 7; Row 31; # 5 GPS Pic
17. Jones, "Little Johnny" (1898-1995) and Catherine (1899-1997) his wife for 75 years. He was the "Conjuring Humorist." His epitaph reads: "Now I have to go and fool St. Peter." He first tried his hand at professional magic when the Depression hit. He is best known as a nightclub performer with a full-evening show. During World War II he was with the USO. He retired after giving his final performance at the 1964 Abbott's Get-together. Sec 7; Row 29; # 3 Pic / GPS Pic
18. Lund, Robert (1925-1995) and Elaine (1926-2006) who owned and operated the American Museum of Magic; Marshall, Michigan. Realizing he lacked the flair for performing, Lund decided to become a student of magic history. His accumulation was called the "largest such collection in private hands." Sec 7; Row 29; # 5 Pic / GPS Pic
19. Blackstone, Harry Jr. (1934-1997) Harry followed in his father's footsteps in becoming a magician of considerable renown. He first appeared in a magic act swaddled in a diaper when he was 6 months old. His nanny had to leave early that day, and his mother was left with no choice but to take Harry Jr. onstage, where she usually posed as the Statue of Liberty and was made to disappear. She substituted a baby bottle for her torch. Mr. Blackstone brought his "magnificent, musical, magical show" to the Majestic Theater in 1980. Sec 5; Row 28; # 5 Pic / GPS Pic
19a. Also buried here is Harry Blackstone III For Harry Blackstone Sr. see Bouton, Harry. GPS Pic
20. Fox, Karrell (1928-1998) His epitaph reads "It Was Fun." He was an integral part of the Magic Get-Together of Abbott's Magic with Foxy Follies for over 30 years.. He did USO shows during WW II at age 16. By the age of 18, Karrell had appeared on the "Ed Sullivan Show". He managed the Abbott Magic store in Detroit. Sec 7; Row 33; # 1 Pic / GPS Pic
21. Alan, Don (McWethv) (1926-1999), and Lois Jean (Proffer) (1932-1989) Don was a Magician and Entertainer. He appeared on TV talk/variety shows, including Ed Sullivan, Steve Alan and Johnny Carson. He was most noted for his American TV program "Don Alan's Magic Ranch." Sec 7; Row 27; # 5 Pic / GPS Pic
22. Dunn, Ricki (1929-1999) was a comedian and thief as "America's Greatest Pickpocket." Dunn ran away from home as a teenager to join the circus, developing his skills in the "Ten-in-One" shows. He was an assistant to magician Card Mondor. By the early 1950's, Rick had teamed with Channing Pollock and Robert Orben. He later developed his pick pocketing act. He worked cruise ships, night clubs and Las Vegas. Sec 7; Row 27; # 8 Pic / GPS Pic
23. Rench, Jack (1924-2002) Magician, Musician and Circus Drummer. His wife Wilma was 19 years old in 1948 when she answered an ad for the organist for the Abbott's Get-Together. The surprise guest that first night was Edgar Bergen. In 2011 she decided to retire but holds the record for most performances at the Get-Together. Sec 7; Row 22; # 8 GPS Pic
24. Straw, Marx Edward (1935-2005) A sleight of hand expert, Marx was a Colon boy who became a prodigy of Percy Abbott of Abbott Magic Company. Sec 7; Row 33; # 7 GPS Pic
25. Nosek, Terry (1936-2005) was a was a magician, comedy mentalist, designer of award winning effects, convention entertainer, author of magic books, magic store manager/demonstrator. He graduated from Loyola in Chicago with a degree in marketing. In 1960 he married Mary Jo and became dad to 3 children, Michael, Marie and Colleen. During his early adult years Terry became a children's magician, "Swami Salami," with Colleen assisting. Terry would say, "Now we've never met, right?", she would say, "No dad". Sec 7; Row 33; # 2 GPS Pic
26. Barrows, Ralph "Jack" (1935-2007) Magician and Author, He was a President of Magical Youths International, and served with the Society of American. Magicians. He later moved to Colon Michigan to worked at Abbott's as chie salesman & demonstrator in their showroom. Later he worked for FAB Magic (also in Colon). Sec 7; Row 31; # 6 Pic /GPS Pic
27. Booth, John Nicholls (1912-2009) and Edith Kriger (1907-1982), John was a Minister, Author, Magician, Lecturer and Cinematographer. Rev. Booth's magic career began before his ministry and continued throughout those years and beyond. He was a mentor and wrote several classical books on magic. Sec 7; Row 33; # 5 GPS Pic
28. Huston, Kenneth Roy (1940-2009) and Yuka Darlene (1941 - ) Roy was a magician for 50 years and a professional drummer and dancer. His mother, known professionally as Rita Raye, was one of his assistants in his shows. Huston later worked spook shows from coast to coast, combining shows with Bill Neff. Sec 7; Row 21; # 7 GPS Pic
29. Conklin, Jerry (1928-2010) and Shirley (1934-1987) In 1961, Jerry moved his family to Colon and began working at Abbott's Magic Company. Soon afterwards, he became a professional magician, and the "The Amazing Conklin's" traveled throughout the United States and Canada. Jerry lived in Colon for fifty years. Sec 7; Row 30; # 1 Pic / GPS Pic
30. Moorehouse, Henry Louis (Hank) (1934-2011 ) & Jaculan Joan (1937- ) Operating a small magic company in his home he continued to expand the business until 1974, when he opened a retail store in neighboring Ann Arbor called the "Magic Emporium." Hank worked with Abbott Magic Company for many years. He was a White Pigeon resident and they honored him by naming a street after him. Sec 7; Row 31; # 7 Pic / GPS Pic
31. Bendix, David (1934 -2013) A native of New Orleans, Bendix, was very active in the New Orleans magic community from 1950-1980. He invented The Bendix Bombshell Wallet. Sec 7; Row 41; # 1 GPS Pic
32. Willmarth, Philip Reed (1931-2014) Phil was a past-President of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (2007-2008), and was, for many years, the editor of the Linking Ring, a magazine for magicians. Born in New Castle, Pa., Mr. Willmarth's interest in magic began as a young boy when his father, a physician, gave him a book on magic. He was hooked! Sec 7; Row 42; # 5 GPS Pic
33. Mullica, Thomas Blaine (1948 -2016) was a comedy magician and impressionist who performed on television specials. On his seventh birthday his mother bought him a "Sneaky Pete Magic Kit" for Christmas. After 3 years in the army, he moved to Colon, Michigan, building illusions and demonstrated magic for Abbott's Magic Company. His signature effect is the manipulation and vanishing of several lit cigarettes in his mouth. His mentor was Red Skelton. In later years he played many of Red's characters. Sec 7; Row 20; # 5 Pic / GPS Pic
34. King, Kevin (1968-2017) Comic magician. Performed at comedy clubs across the country and on cruise ships in the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Mexico. Sec. 7; Row 43; # 7 GPS Pic
35. Windley, Charles (1942-2017) Charles Windley was a professional magician all his life. He did a season or two with Clyde Beatty/Cole Bros. Circus. He owned a magic shop in Norfolk, Virginia. He said, "I got into magic originally because I stuttered." Ten years later his public speaking was flawless. Sec 7; Row 21; # 6 GPS Pic
36. Linsell, David (1953-2018) He worked in technical training and photographic equipment sales at Olympus America for 29 years and then found his true vocation at Potter & Potter Auctions as a photographer of magic memorabilia and other fine art until retiring in 2018. He also thrived as a freelance photographer, specializing in performance portraits of world famous magicians. He was a fifty-year attendee of the Abbott's Magic Get Together and its official photographer. Photographed magicians around the world. Sec 7; Row 21; # 6 Pic / GPS Pic
37. Odette, David (1965-2018) Newspaper photographer. Collector of magic memorabilia and performer. Performed magical comedy entertainment for corporate functions, restaurants, schools and private parties. After the birth of his first child, he became a stay-at-home Dad while also working as a professional magician, performing at festivals, corporate and private shows around West Michigan, including several years as part of the "But Waif, There's Mors". Sec 7; Row 14; #3 GPS Pic
38. Watson, William Donald (1931-2018) was born July 27,1931, in Detroit, but always called Colon his home. As the son of "Monk" Watson, Bill grew up in a show business family; traveling the country, He enlisted in the Air Force where he met and married the love of his life, Marilyn "Mickey" Watson. He loved to play the piano and banjo to accompany himself singing. Bill spent his last years living in Colon and was the MC at the 2002 and 2008 Get-Togethers. Sec 5; Row 21; # 7 Video / GPS Pic
39. Haney, Denny (1945-2019) a proud American and Vietnam Veteran who served four tours of duty. Upon his return to the US, he began his career as a professional magician. Through the 1980's and 90's he was a successful corporate entertainer and was one of the highest paid magic acts in the country. He wanted to give back to the magic community so he took the money he earned on the road, and opened up a studio where magicians could come and learn, practice their craft, rehearse and exchange ideas. He owned magic shops in Maryland and Las Vegas. Sec 7; Row 42; # 4 Pic / GPS Pic
40. Darwin, Gary (1935-2019) Born Gary Lee Meador in Denver, Colorado, he was one of the first magicians to perform in Las Vegas in the 1960s. He began performing death-defying acts as "Darewin, the man with thirteen lives." People had trouble pronouncing his real name, so "Darwin" it became. He started the Darwin Magic Club in 1968 which met each Wednesday for fifty years. He also wrote many magic books and produced over two dozen video tapes. Sec 5; Row 32; # 3 GPS Pic
41. Fontana, Sonny (1957-2019) He was best known, especially at The Magic Castle, for his amazing shadow artistry and he was a Shadow Consultant for Francis Ford Coppola's film "Dracula". He could do amazing shadow profile impersonations. It was an act that took him around the world many times. He created many unique and amazing acts
including the Telephone Act, Hand Shadow Act and the Invisible Man. He was a published origami expert and created many original figures. Sec 7; Row 41; # 3
42. Thompson, Johnny (1934-2019) was an American comedian and Las Vegas illusionist who performed under the stage name The Great Tomsoni with his wife, Pamela Hayes. "The Godfather of Magic." Known as the Great Tomsoni & Co., he and his wife Pam performed around the world. He was a consultant to many of the top magicians. Sec 7; Row 20; # 6 PicGPS Pic
43. Nielson, Norm (1934-2020) became hooked on magic when his father took him to see Herman, a barber who performed magic. Norm hung out with Herman but he never revealed to Norm the secrets of his magic. Through observation, Norm stated learning quite a bit. Eventually Norm went to his first convention where he met his idol, Neil Foster, who was a teacher at the Chavez School of Magic in California. His signature piece was his floating violin, he and his wife Lupe owned one of the largest collections of magic posters. He also manufactured a high quality line of magic props. Sec 7; Row 27; # 6
44. Blaney, Walter "Zaney" (1928-2020) A true Texan who stood at 6' 6", Walter was a Magician and inventor who became fascinated with the magical arts when he started performing as a magician during his college years. During those years he met and married the love of his life, Joyce, Lottle Sefcik. After graduating from the University of Texas in 1940, the couple traveled the entir country with Joyce assiting Walter performing magic for school assemblies. In 1975, he was a headliner at the Abbott Magic Get-Together. His famous Ladder Levitation is engraved on his tombstone. Sec 7; Row 43; # 4 GPS Pic
45. Carnell, Ron (1950-2021) was born in Battle Creek, Michigan some 25 miles north of Colon. He was a self-taught magic enthusiast who turned professional after his retirement. He has worked his magic on stages throughout the Midwest and performed at places like the Soaring Eagle Casino, Gun Lake Casino, Great Escape Stage Company, and has most recently appeared on national television performing on ABC Sunday Morning News.Carnell is also on the Board of Directors at the American Museum of magic in Marshall. He locally was known for his close-up trickery at the River Lake Inn, near Colon. Sec 7; Row 37; # 6 Pic / GPS Pic
46. Rench, Wilma (1929-2021) Wilma was a local gal, (born in Leonidas, Michigan), about five miles north of Colon. Wilma was an extremely talented organist and became a professional in every way. Wilma was 19 years old in 1948 when she answered an ad for the organist for the Abbott's Get-Together. She related her nervousness waiting on Percy Abbott. He spread out some music for her and it was "American Patrol." Wilma didn't need the music and after a few bars she was hired. The surprise guest that first night was Edgar Bergen. In 2011 she decided to retire but holds the record for most performances at the Get-Together, not as a magician, but as a remembered and talented organist. As a professional organist Wilma played for local bands, the Abbotts magic get together, some of the largest circus's in the country and was the organist for the Colon and Athens Methodist Church's for many years. Sec 7; Row 22; # 8 Pic / GPS Pic
For information on being interred at Colon's Lakeside Cemetery contact Natalie Wyant (Township Clerk) at 269 432 3371
- Graves may be extra for persons living outside of Colon Township
- (2022 plots were $400 for residents, $500 for non residents).
- They currently have two additional rows (45 and 47) reserved for magicians.
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