Dave Parker was born David Waterman on July 7th, 1934 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. His father owned a cigar shop. When World War II broke out, the Waterman Family, being Jewish, went into hiding in Bergen, North Holland. Fortunately, Dave’s father had the foresight to take all of his merchandise from the store with him, and so the family was able to make a living by selling tobacco on the black market. Young David was not permitted to go outside during the war in fear of being caught. To help pass the time, one of the men who was in hiding with the family, an amateur magician, taught David magic and juggling. When the war was over, the family moved back to Amsterdam and David became involved with Circus Elleboog, a youth circus. While performing with them, the circus was visited by Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, who tossed David a ball which he caught on a mouth stick. A photo of this was in many of the newspapers throughout the country. You can see the photo below.
Queen Juliana throwing a ball to Dave Parker
David took on the stage name of Dave Parker and continued to develop his juggling skills, specializing in 3 balls, 3 cigar boxes, 3 hats, and ball and mouth stick work. One of his first big breaks was when Dutch comedian Wim Kan hired him to perform with his theatrical troupe. In 1955, Dave began using a black and white theme, dressing in black and using black hats, white balls, and white cigar boxes.
He incorporated dance and comedy into the act as well to great effect. Dave Parker ended his act with an amazing impression of Charlie Chaplin. The impression was so good that it was even praised by Chaplin’s daughter, Geraldine. He intermixed hat and cane tricks with the impression.
Dave Parker had a very successful career, performing in every country in Europe as well as throughout Africa and the Middle East, the United States, and Japan. Most famously, he was a featured act at the acclaimed Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris from 1962 to 1972. He loved his time at the Crazy Horse. Parker would sleep until noon, practice a while, and then explore Paris. He believed in living a very clean life and never drank or smoked. He had a large circle of close friends, including juggler Freddy Kenton.
Dave Parker made many television appearances, including The Hollywood Palace and The Good Old Days. He was friends with Sammy Davis Jr., who brought him to Los Angeles.
He retired in 1995 when he realized that much of his audience didn’t recognize Charlie Chaplin. He spent most of his retirement alone, as his daughter moved out when she turned 18 and then Dave’s wife left him shortly after. He spent his retirement seeing as many circuses and variety shows as he could. He was also a life member of the IJA.
Parker died on January 15, 2008 at the age of 73. At his funeral, slides of Parker with Sammy Davis Jr. in Las Vegas, with Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, and with Barbara Streisand in London, attesting to his amazing career.
Below are videos showing Dave Parker performing. While his technical abilities were not a high as some others who performed with the same props, such as Bela Kremo, Kris Kremo, and Rudi Schweitzer, David Parker kept audiences entertained for decades and traveled the world with his act.
For a third video of Dave’s act, click here.