AJ Cantu (1896-1949)
AJ Cantu's Real Name
Abraham J Cantu
Aliases Professor Tucan
Place of Birth
Cantu possessed the uncanny ability to produce a number of doves and pigeons from thin air. He was a skilled manipulator specializing in the magic of bird production.
Cantu was the creator of the "Buckle Count" trick.
AJ Cantu was born Abraham J Cantu in Monterrey, Mexico on November 24, 1896.
As an adult, he moved to the USA, and began dabbling in magic after a short tenure as a barber. In his late twenty's, Cantu met Magician Len 0. Gunn invited him to become a member of the Los Angeles Society of Magicians.
The two became best friends; Gun showed Cantu his first magic trick and assisted him in every way in becoming a professional magician. In 1928, Cantu participated in a contest held by the society, and won a prize for his trick of finding a card in a cigarette selected from the audience.
That same year, with the aid of Gunn and American magician, Frankson, Cantu performed Yosemite National Park and subsequently launched a successful career performing in theaters and nightclubs across the nation.
In 1931, Cantu got a bit act for the movie "Politiquerias," the spanish language version of "Chickens Come Home" starring famed comedic duo, Laurel and Hardy.
In the movie, Cantu, as part of the entertainment for Ollie's dinner guests, performed numerous magic tricks, including the production of playing cards from thin air and a cigarette manipulation act.
Cantu also toured his native Mexico, but, because his name was relatively common there, he reversed the syllables of his last name and billed himself as "Professor Tucan." Also, in the late 1930's, Cantu toured Europe, performing in popular places such as London's Grosvenor House Cabaret.
On the outbreak of war, Cantu returned to America. After a fallow period during which he apparently created and perfected his method of producing doves and pigeons, he was offered a contract to play Leon and Eddie's nightclub in New York.
In 1939, American film producer Mervyn LeRoy hired Cantu as a technical aid for the 1939 movie "At The Circus," starring the Marx Brothers.
In the 1940's, he worked with a female assistant, and performed such tricks as a tear and restore newspaper act, at the end of which the paper is crushed and then reopened only to produce a pigeon. He also performed a coin manipulation act and more bird productions from handkerchiefs.
He became renown for his dove productions an inspired many magicians, including Channing Pollock.
Cantu died an untimely death. He was killed in a car accident on August 27, 1949, while en route to an engagement in Morgantown, West Virginia.
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